Cover art for podcast MFA Writers

MFA Writers

70 EpisodesProduced by Jared McCormackWebsite

MFA Writers is the podcast where host Jared McCormack interviews creative writing MFA students about their program, their process, and a piece they’re working on.

70 Episodes | 2020 - 2023

Edward Daschle — University of Maryland

January 31st, 2023


In a small program with a cohort of just three students, who you’re around makes a world of difference. On this episode, Edwards Daschle talks about finding a writing community, a welcoming environment to write both …

Mary Kate McGrath — Boston University

January 17th, 2023


Most MFA programs last 2-3 years, so what’s it like to earn this degree in just 1-1.5 years? Mary Kate McGrath describes the pros and cons of Boston University’s accelerated program. Plus, she and Jared discuss …

De’Andre S. Holmes — Columbia College Chicago

January 3rd, 2023


Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt writing imposter syndrome! We all have our hands up. On this episode, De’Andre S. Holmes of Columbia College …

Rerelease: Chibuihe Obi Achimba — Brown University

December 20th, 2022


The podcast team is on winter break. Thanks for listening, friends. We wish you all a great end of the year. We'll be back with a new episode in two weeks. 

Chibuihe Obi Achimba sits down with Jared to talk about the …

Kaitlyn Airy — University of Virginia

December 6th, 2022


On this episode, Kaitlyn Airy talks about how her experience as an adoptee shapes the themes of her work on abandonment, identity, and history. Plus, she and Jared discuss the benefits they have both reaped after taking …

Special Episode! Jonathan Escoffery — Debut Author of If I Survive You

November 22nd, 2022


Jonathan Escoffery, author of the highly acclaimed debut collection If I Survive You, sits down with Jared to discuss how this book grew out of his …

Nikki Lyssy — University of South Florida

November 8th, 2022


On this episode, Nikki Lyssy tells Jared about how, as a blind writer, she uses research to access the sighted world and fill her fiction with vivid imagery, while in her nonfiction, she explores her own experience with …

Special Episode! Lindsay Bernal — MFA Applications Admissions Coordinator Edition

October 25th, 2022


It’s the third annual MFA application episode! This time, Jared is joined by Lindsay Bernal, poet and Academic Coordinator for the MFA program at the University of Maryland. She answers listener questions (starting at …

Rerelease: Special Episode! Gregory Spatz — MFA Applications Faculty Edition

October 11th, 2022


Happy MFA application season to all who observe! As you craft and revise your applications, here's last year's annual MFA application episode from a …

Sean Dolan — Western Washington University

September 27th, 2022


It’s increasingly common for writers to get accepted in their second (or third) attempts at MFA applications. In this episode, Sean Dolan shares what …

Emily St. Martin — UC Riverside, Palm Desert Low-Residency

September 13th, 2022


Can you find a close community in a low-res program? Emily St. Martin, having met her best friends in her MFA, says absolutely yes. She joins Jared …

Rachelle Toarmino — UMass Amherst

August 30th, 2022


As the editor-in-chief of Peach Mag, Rachelle Toarmino is consistently focused on the work of others. She chats with Jared about her own writing …

Steven Duong — Iowa Writers’ Workshop

August 16th, 2022


Welcome to Season 3! It’s finally time to tackle the oldest and most famous MFA of them all: the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. On this episode, Steven …

Rerelease: George Saunders — Story Club

August 2nd, 2022


This week, as the pod team enjoys the last of our vacation, we’ve got a rerelease of a special episode from Season 2 of the podcast: Jared's …

Rerelease: Adachioma Ezeano — University of Kentucky

July 19th, 2022


Pod's out for summer! We wrapped up Season 2 on our last episode and are busy planning Season 3. In the meantime, enjoy one of our favorite episodes from this past season. We’ll be back in August with brand new …

Taylor Byas — University of Cincinnati

July 5th, 2022


On the season 2 finale, Taylor Byas talks to Jared about how her fiction background helps her develop sharp images and accessible lines in her poetry while her poetic knowledge taught her to take more risks in her …

Luna Adler — Brooklyn College

June 21st, 2022


Luna Adler talks to Jared about moving between fiction and non-fiction, Brooklyn College’s unique novel-writing workshop aimed at accommodating the …

Taylor Sklenar — Iowa State University

June 7th, 2022


Taylor Sklenar of Iowa State University’s MFA in Creative Writing and the Environment talks with Jared about how growing up in a small town influenced his interests in chemistry and theatre, combining those interests in …

James Craig Hartz Jr. — Oregon State University

May 24th, 2022


On this episode, James Craig Hartz Jr., a Combat Medic turned MFA graduate, tells Jared about flipping the traditional military homecoming story into one filled with resilience, hope, and hard-won healing. He also …

Siloh Radovsky — UC San Diego

May 10th, 2022


Siloh Radovsky sits down with Jared to talk about her path from anarchistic activism to experimental writing, the blurry line between fiction and nonfiction, and the joys and pains of teaching in an R1 institution.

Gauri Awasthi — McNeese State University

April 26th, 2022


Gauri Awasthi talks to Jared about how McNeese allowed her to earn an MA and MFA in three years, decolonizing the poetry cannon, and how she first …

Rerelease: Vanessa Chan — The New School

April 12th, 2022


Jared's taking this week off to focus on finishing his thesis, so enjoy this rerelease with Vanessa Chan who recently signed a fabulous deal for two …

Erin Slaughter — Florida State University

March 29th, 2022


How does a creative writing PhD compare to an MFA? Erin Slaughter talks to Jared about the focus on professionalization in her doctoral program at Florida State University compared to the exploration and experimentation …

Chibuihe Obi Achimba — Brown University

March 15th, 2022


Chibuihe Obi Achimba sits down with Jared to talk about the anguish and extreme joy of transferring a poem from imagination to language, using writing to explore the impacts and losses of modernization and civil war in …

Katie M. Zeigler — St. Mary's College of California

March 1st, 2022


Over the last ten years, Katie M. Zeigler filled out an MFA application six times and never submitted. Now in her second year at St. Mary’s College …

Gabrielle Grace Hogan — The New Writers Project, University of Texas at Austin

February 15th, 2022


Poet Gabrielle Grace Hogan of the New Writers Project at the University of Texas at Austin talks with Jared about using images to find theme in poetry, giving ourselves permission to write about happiness, and improving …

Special Episode! George Saunders — Story Club

February 1st, 2022


Jared sits down with author and Syracuse Professor George Saunders to discuss his advice for new and prospective MFA students, the value of trusting your writing intuition, the best (and worst) kind of workshop …

Jason Rodriguez — School of the Art Institute of Chicago

January 18th, 2022


With a background in cinema, Jason Rodriguez of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago sits down with Jared to talk about how film influences his …

Rerelease: Marcus Jamison — University of South Carolina

January 4th, 2022


The podcast team is on vacation (re: staycation)! Enjoy one of our favorite episodes from the earliest days of the show. Regular programming will …

Cordis Paldano — Minnesota State University, Mankato

December 21st, 2021


Both stage acting and fiction writing are practices in understanding and embodying characters. Cordis Paldano of Minnesota State University, Mankato joins Jared to discuss the ways his acting career informs his writing, …

Luke Larkin — University of Montana

December 7th, 2021


Literary fiction on Monday, pulp on Tuesday, YA on Wednesday, poetry on Thursday. Luke Larkin of the University of Montana tells Jared about crossing …

Keely O’Connell — University of Alaska Fairbanks

November 23rd, 2021


Skiing to campus and living without running water may not be typical aspects of the MFA experience, but they are common at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. On this episode, Keely O’Connell tells Jared about her …

Rerelease: Special Episode! Cady Vishniac — MFA Applications

November 9th, 2021


As we approach the first application deadlines of this MFA cycle, enjoy this rerelease to help you tackle questions such as: Should I get an MFA? …

Special Episode! Gregory Spatz — MFA Applications Faculty Edition

October 26th, 2021


The annual MFA application episode is back! This year, Jared is joined by Gregory Spatz, Professor and Program Director of the MFA program at Eastern Washington University, who explains what the application process …

Adachioma Ezeano — University of Kentucky

October 12th, 2021


Jared talks to O. Henry Prize winner Adachioma Ezeano of the University of Kentucky about finding her love of literature through Nigerian novels and …

Natalie Warther — Bennington College

September 28th, 2021


Natalie Warther of Bennington College talks to Jared about the potential of flash fiction to introduce literature to nonreaders, making the writer’s …

Ashley Sojin Kim — University of Florida

September 14th, 2021


Jared and Ashley Sojin Kim of the University of Florida discuss learning about suppressed historic events through poetry, adding form restrictions to enhance the creative process, and networking with publishers at UF’s …

Katie Schorr — Hunter College

August 31st, 2021


In this episode, Jared talks with Katie Schorr of Hunter College about overcoming rejection and the failure to sell her first novel, finding her …

Shreya Fadia — Indiana University Bloomington

August 17th, 2021


Welcome to Season 2! Jared is joined by Shreya Fadia of Indiana University Bloomington to discuss incorporating genre elements in literary work, making a career change from law to writing, and how editing Indiana Review

Special Episode! — Jared on Music at Midnight

August 3rd, 2021


With deep gratitude, we have reached the end of Season 1. The pod team is taking a little vacation and launching Season 2 in two weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this rebroadcast of Music at Midnight, a podcast published …

Tarik Dobbs — University of Minnesota

July 20th, 2021


Drawing attention to American and Israeli occupation in the Middle East, Tarik Dobbs of the University of Minnesota crafts experimental poetry based on extensive research and personal experience. Tarik joins Jared to …

Aggie Stewart — Newport MFA at Salve Regina University

July 6th, 2021


How do emotional pacing and narrative structure influence one another in a story? Jared talks to Aggie Stewart of the Newport MFA at Salve Regina University about her memoir, a braided narrative examining family trauma. …

Keith Enterante — San Diego State University

June 22nd, 2021


Fantasy. Sci fi. Literary absurdist fiction. Keith Enterante of San Diego State University’s novel excerpt has it all. He joins Jared to talk about the support and warmth of his program, the importance of starting and …

Evan Fleischer — Emerson College

June 8th, 2021


Pursuing an MFA is not only about improving your own writing, but also that of your peers. Evan Fleischer of Emerson College talks to Jared about how …

Ellie Black — University of Mississippi

May 25th, 2021


Humor. Experimentation. Sound play. Ellie Black of the University of Mississippi talks to Jared about how her poetry has gotten increasingly weird, the influence of the Gurlesque movement, and the benefits of a high …

Antonio Villaseñor-Baca — University of Texas at El Paso

May 11th, 2021


What does a bilingual MFA program look like in practice? Antonio Villaseñor-Baca of the University of Texas El Paso joins Jared to talk about studying cross-genre work in English and Spanish, launching a music magazine …

Special Episode! — Felicia Rose Chavez and The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop

April 27th, 2021


Creative writing workshops have remained largely unchanged since their creation in 1936. But what if there’s a better, more empowering, more inclusive way? Jared talks to Felicia Rose Chavez about her new book, The …

Alejandro Puyana — Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas at Austin

April 13th, 2021


With political and social unrest rocking his home country of Venezuela, Alejandro Puyana turned to writing as a way to process. He applied to MFA …

Jemimah Wei — Columbia University

March 30th, 2021


In Singapore, a young nation focused on economic prosperity, the path to the writer’s life can seem uncertain. Against this backdrop, Jemimah Wei of …

Jeremiah Barker — Litowitz MFA+MA, Northwestern University

March 16th, 2021


A joint MA+MFA program allows students to deepen their understanding of literary criticism and theory while crafting creative works. Jeremiah Barker of Northwestern University tells Jared how they balance the workload, …

Koyé Oyedeji — Warren Wilson College

March 2nd, 2021


A low-residency MFA program helped Koyé Oyedeji of Warren Wilson College develop the discipline to work full-time while writing his composite novel. …

Danielle P. Williams — George Mason University

February 16th, 2021


An MFA-sponsored trip to the Mariana Islands allowed Danielle P. Williams of George Mason University to reconnect with her ancestral culture. She …

Sarah Ruth Bates — University of Arizona

February 2nd, 2021


What’s it like to work on a research-driven nonfiction book in an MFA while freelancing on the side? Sarah Ruth Bates of the University of Arizona joins Jared to talk about how the nonfiction genre is more than memoir, …

Bryan Byrdlong — Helen Zell Writers’ Program, University of Michigan

January 19th, 2021


How is the zombie of Haitian folklore a poetic metaphor for how society treats Blackness? Bryan Byrdlong of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the …

Emily Holland — American University

January 5th, 2021


Should I go straight into an MFA or take some time between degrees? Emily Holland of American University talks to Jared about how she decided to go …

Kaj Tanaka — University of Houston

December 22nd, 2020


Have you ever wondered how contest winners are selected? Kaj Tanaka of the University of Houston takes us behind the scenes of Gulf Coast’s Barthelme …

Michal “MJ” Jones — Mills College

December 8th, 2020


What’s it like to write a poem from the perspective of someone you despise? Michal “MJ” Jones of Mills College joins Jared to discuss their thesis …

Special Episode! Cady Vishniac — MFA Applications

November 24th, 2020


Should I get an MFA? What should I consider when applying? How can I strengthen my application? In this special episode, Jared is joined by Cady …

Dana Liebelson — University of Wyoming

November 10th, 2020


What’s a journalist doing in an MFA program? Dana Liebelson of the University of Wyoming tells Jared how her journalistic habits facilitate and complicate her fiction writing, how her work has become increasingly …

Marcus Jamison — University of South Carolina

October 27th, 2020


Can writing be a form of protest? And if so, is there room for hope? Jared sits down with Marcus Jamison of the University of South Carolina to talk …

Vanessa Chan — The New School

October 13th, 2020


Do we write because we understand or do we write to reach understanding? Jared and Vanessa Chan of The New School unpack this question. Along the …

Hannah Cajandig-Taylor — Northern Michigan University

September 29th, 2020


Every word matters when writing flash fiction and poetry. Jared sits down with Hannah Cajandig-Taylor of Northern Michigan University to talk about writing and revising short works, crafting plot twists and unexpected …

Matthew Dougherty — West Virginia University

September 15th, 2020


Singer-songwriter turned novelist Matthew Dougherty of West Virginia University joins Jared to talk about writing songs versus writing prose, fictionalizing family lore, and winning three literary contests.

Matthew …

Marcos Damián León — University of California, Riverside

September 1st, 2020


What’s it like to be a YA writer in an MFA program? Jared talks to Marcos Damián León of the University of California, Riverside about crafting young …

Clancy Tripp — The Ohio State University

August 18th, 2020


Clancy Tripp of Ohio State University talks to Jared McCormack about what happens when people believe your satire, how OSU encouraged her to …

Ali Geren — University of Arkansas

August 4th, 2020


Jared McCormack talks with Ali Geren of the University of Arkansas about writing accessible poetry, growing up in small-town America, coming out in a poem, working a second job during the MFA, and drawing inspiration …

Preety Sidhu — Louisiana State University

July 21st, 2020


On this episode, Jared sits down with Preety Sidhu of Louisiana State University to discuss how to finance an MFA (Hidden fees? Healthcare? Cost of living?), how to outline a novel, and how to write stories that …

Sasha Debevec-McKenney — New York University

July 7th, 2020


Sasha Debevec-McKenney of New York University joins us to talk about completing her thesis during a pandemic, diversity in MFA programs, networking …

Mary Henn — University of Missouri-Kansas City

June 23rd, 2020


Mary Henn of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri State University joins us to talk about gender, trauma, writing as healing, and …

MFA Writers Trailer

May 21st, 2020


Host Jared McCormack describes the upcoming MFA Writers podcast launching in June 2020.

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