The Seattle Pacific MFA program that I started here is nearing an end. Just this morning I sent in my last writing and book annotations. Another residency follows later this summer and then it's over. I had intended to write about it as I went along but somehow there just hasn't been time for much blogging about the program because I was too consumed with doing the program. Maybe I can still add some things here after the fact.
One thing I thought about this morning as I sent in my final packet of work is the reading requirement for the program. Part of the program's philosophy is that good reading is essential to good writing. In fact, the program requires reading a total of 60 books and writing a 2-3 page annotation on each. A portion of the titles are required, the others can be self-selected according to your genre of interest and input from your mentor.
Here are some of the books that were required during the past two years:
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Confessions by Augustine
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor
Waiting for God by Simone Weil
Poetry and essays of Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante
Genesis, translated by Robert Alter
Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I know a number of writers read this blog from time to time so they might be interested to hear a goal reading: writing ratio as per my mentor in the program. He suggests to aim for 100 pages of reading at a minimum for every 100 words of writing! And he doesn't mean read 100 pages of research-type reading for every 100 words of writing from that research. He means saturate yourself with 100 pages of good literary writing of any kind for every 100 words of whatever you happen to be writing about. Research-type reading is above and beyond. That's an incredible standard.