Somewhere in the blog-world I was reading a a few-months old discussion of MFA vs. non-MFA poets which bothered me. The fucking self-righteous center of the universe attitude which spawned it made me ashamed that I myself am enrolled in an MFA program.
For years I did just fine without it. By the time I started, I had finished two chapbooks (The Archaeologist's Daughter and Bloody Mary), had even had one accepted by a press besides my own, and was quite close to finishing a book manuscript--(almanac). I already had my MA in Lit, no longer had any plans to go for my PhD., or to teach. I was just writing steadily onward, publishing alot--mostly online--and even coming close in a few chapbook competitions and contests. And then I find out CC is going to offer a grad poetry program, and sucker for punishment I am, I decided to apply, since I'm here anyway and all. And I can't argue that I'm not getting anything from it--the craft classes have been great, spawning new projects and pushing me in new directions. But are my MFA studies absolutely necessary to succeed--I doubt it. It actually seemed more people liked my poems before I started the program. And certainly, we know the whole workshopping thing isn't really working out. I rarely put the MFA thing in my bio, even, since it's only a small fraction of my life as a writer.
The posting also brings up connections, an idea which makes me nauseous. I can't say I have, or really WANT to make connections that way, outside of interacting with my fellow students (and even that at a minimum), I'm not much for faculty and visiting poet sucking-up. I know so much of this whole poetry career thing depends on that, and it seems sort of wrong somehow. For so long, I was completely cut off from other writers, I'd say until about four years ago, and hate to think, that had my work been any good then (which it really wasn't that much anyway, but still,) that I'd have been unable to stand a chance simply because of that factor.
grr...I suppose there are some MFA poets (and certainly, thank god, not all) have to convince themselves that their degree gives them some corner on the poetry market or otherwise they have to admit that with enough reading and writing, anyone with half a brain,a smidge of talent, and a drive to make something of it, can do it...