Thursday, June 7, 2018

Congratulations, 2018 MFA graduates!

Summertime, and the living is easy—especially if you just finished a graduate program after completing 13 writing courses and a 100-page thesis. I’m hoping the members of our 2018 MFA graduating class are taking a deep breath before going on to the next great thing: finishing their books, publishing essays, teaching creative writing, editing for magazines, founding a literary center…the possibilities are as varied as they are. In the meantime, I’m still savoring the experience of hearing our writers read from their finished work at the MFA graduate reading and celebration, held in Hatch Library on May 11. The topics ranged from clandestine horse riding to adventure mountain climbing, from working as a harried school photographer to working in a hair-raising chimp research facility, from decorating a wildly inappropriate cake in a Catholic school contest to running a 26-mile marathon in the wake of a tragedy…and more.

All proving that one can write about anything under the sun and moon and make it interesting—if the writing is good. It was more than good. It was exhilarating, powerful, moving. And in the end, it silenced the room, as graduating student Amy Consolati read from her most recent work about battling cancer via a video she had recorded from her hospital bed.

Amy’s fierce, unexpectedly funny, and truthful reading that day reminded each of us in the room why we do what we do. Why we write. Why we teach. Why we tell stories. Writing helps us not only describe the world but grapple with it. It helps us navigate the shocks and upheavals of daily life. It helps us connect to one another when so much of contemporary society contrives to keep us isolated and alone, in our cars, in cubicles, in front of our screens. As long as we have literature, we are never alone.

Thank you, Amy Consolati, Pam Estes, Carolyn Free, Andrés Moral, Kim MacQueen, Kara Noble, and Andrea Prettyman, for showing us why writing matters—and pointing the way to the writers who will come after you. And deep thanks to the extraordinary MFA faculty who traveled many miles to give each student a personal introduction: Mel Allen, Adam Braver, Lisa Romeo, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Tommy Shea, and Kate Whouley. See the photo gallery for pictures of the reading and the celebration: we toasted, passed around slices of lemon cake, and shared more stories before heading over to the graduate Strawberries and Champagne celebration. A fitting end to a day of joy.

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