Students and Alumni of the Writing and Consciousness MFA Program
Pauline E. Reif is a writer/artist in the MFA in Writing and Consciousness program. "As an MFA student," says Pauline, "my world and thus my art are expanding as a result of the diversity of genres and disciplines held within this program. I'm seeing my work anew through interaction and collaboration with my peers and professors and the variety of lenses offered, and am opening creative doors I'd not thought possible before. I'm also developing a new and essential appreciation for the foundational aesthetics of my artistic lineage and those who've influenced my artistry with their own." Pauline's final MFA project is a play entitled "Stars Through a Blackened Branch," which will explore and give witness to the remarkable life of Etty Hillesum. A young Dutch-Jewish woman, Etty died in Auschwitz at twenty-nine years of age following an intense spiritual transformation that she recorded in her diaries and letters. Check out Hidden World: Notes on an MFA Project to learn more about Pauline's play.
April Serr is a writer/visual artist in the MFA in Writing and Consciousness program. "The first year of our MFA program was riveting," says April. "Encircled by gifted teachers, mentors and students I found myself fully immersed in a creatively stimulating environment where I was taken deep into a fully engaged, intellectual and practical learning experience. As a result of this rich and diverse curriculum, I continue to find my own work opening, deepening and coming into clearer focus." April's MFA project is a collection of four mystical novellas, which will have visual illustrations.
In 2008, CIIS transferred the MFA in Writing and Consciousness and the MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts to CIIS. Many dynamic artists graduated from the MFA in Writing and Consciousness and the MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts from New College of California. We are pleased to highlight the accomplishments of these artists.
Graduates of the MFA in Writing and Consciousness
Abigail Wick (2009): "For the past year, I worked as a Creative Writing and Literature instructor at San Francisco's prestigious Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy, where I developed a pedagogy of social justice, informed by my training with the Writing and Consciousness (WRC) MFA. Additionally, I have edited multiple manuscripts, including works by Daphne Gottlieb, Scott Selby, and Greg Campbell, author of The New York Times best-seller, Blood Diamond. I draft and edit arts grants, assisting primary grant writer Jason Ditzian to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for world-class Bay Area performers. Along with Nina Schnall, a fellow WRC graduate, I coordinated an anthology release party and reading for Shift, self-published by our MFA cohort and edited by Bruce Machado. I adapt my poetry into sound/noise/music collages using a software program called Audacity. I also adapt my poetry and writing into performance art, often drawing upon the Butoh process. My forthcoming project is a collaboration with modern dancer Deia de Brito. We are choreographing a piece using 'The Sound Cave,' an interactive sound sculpture by Tyson Ayers, featured at Million Fishes Art Gallery."
Praise From Recent Graduates
Lelani Clark, MFA 2008, Writing and Consciousness:
“I have already seen fantastic benefits from my MFA work. I am in the process of completing nine short stories, most of which are ready to be sent out for possible publication in literary journals. I was accepted to the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop (run by a prestigious and well-known literary journal) on the merit of a short story that I wrote and workshopped while working towards my degree at New College and CIIS. Professionally, I am now teaching online college courses and plan on applying for jobs as an English instructor at the local university. I would not have been able to consider or be qualified for either position without the MFA work. In addition, I am developing a career as a working writer through my freelance and anthology publications. I am nothing but thankful and appreciative for all I have learned while working on my Writing and Consciousness MFA. I have achieved dreams beyond my wildest imaginings through the discipline and inspiration instilled as a result of my work in this program.”
Janet Ector, MFA 2008, Writing and Consciousness: The experience of exploring the power and beauty of literature and voice in the cohort model provides a rich, in-depth critical analysis of the development of our culture while also providing an arena of free exploration of positive methods for violating the traditional standards and restrictions of cultural expression. This program is rigorous and experimental. A rare combination in our time.
Abigail Wick, MFA 2008, Writing and Consciousness: "Writing isn’t when the fingers stroke the keys or the pen taps the page, writing is the art of relentless, often ruthless, observation. We are artists of the eye – indeed, all of the senses. Whether that be whooping in poetry class to create a cacophonous audio recording or breaking bread together at the reception table before a poetry reading. We learn the art of friendship, solidarity, commitment, honesty– not to mention making up and extending forgiveness after a disagreement. We are each other’s chosen family. We are a community of collaborators, thinkers, visionaries, eccentrics, weirdos, misfits, darlings, heroes, all of us. We aren’t being pushed through a degree mill, we are forging connections with educators and peers that will...indelibly alter the way we approach the world…”