Department of English
Rhodes Tower 1815
Jeff Karem, Chair
Adam Sonstegard, Graduate Program Director
Imad Rahman, Director, Creative Writing Programming; CSU Campus Coordinator for the NEOMFA
Steven Reese (Youngstown State University) NEOMFA Director
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is offered as part of the NorthEast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a four-university consortium incorporating the faculty and resources of Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Youngstown State University, and the University of Akron. The degree program offers five different concentrations: fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, and literary translation. Curriculum focuses on the techniques of professional writing and the analysis of literary works from the point of view of the practitioner while electives enable the study of whatever subject area will further the student’s writing interests. A required internship offers practical workplace experience from a wide range of fields, including teaching, editing, grant writing, arts marketing, and arts administration.
The program is designed to meet the needs of both part-time and full-time students. Workshops and craft and theory courses are routinely offered in the evenings. Students can register freely across institutional boundaries for graduate courses offered at any of the participating universities and taught either by regular faculty or by visiting resident writers.
A NEOMFA Executive Committee, made up of representatives from each Consortium university, governs the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, oversees the subcommittee on the admission of students, appoints NEOMFA graduate assistants, and makes policy decisions for the Master of Fine Arts program. It also hears student petitions that specifically address NEOMFA arrangements or policy.
Faculty Publications and Research
The thirty faculty members of NEOMFA have gained regional and national recognition as creative writers and literary translators with a distinguished record of publications, performances, and awards. Faculty publication records include over fifty book-length works of poetry, fiction, and translation, and hundreds of short stories and poems published in such journals as American Poetry Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, and many others. The Playwriting Faculty has a record of performances from university theater programs to professional stages, locally, nationally, and internationally.
Creative writing awards won by Program Faculty include fellowships and/or awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission, the Pushcart Prize, the Chilchote Award, the MacDowell Colony, and even ASCAP awards for musical theater. Program Faculty regularly attend conferences, visit other institutions to give readings and workshops, and serve on committees and boards for regional and national organizations for the promotion of the literary arts. In addition, many faculty members are involved with outreach to schools, arts organizations, and regional communities.
For a full listing of program faculty with publications and performances, consult the NEOMFA Web site at http://neomfa.org/faculty
The English Department is home to the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, publisher of more than 135 books of contemporary poetry since 1971, offering one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for a book of poetry, and connecting the University to a national community of poets. Each summer since 1991, the Department of English has also sponsored the Imagination Writers’ Workshop and Conference, bringing both emerging and established writers from across the nation to read and teach on campus. In addition, for over thirty years, the University has housed Whiskey Island Magazine, a student-edited literary journal, publishing local, regional, and national work. Resources at other Consortium Universities include the Wick Poetry Center and Wick Center Poetry Books at Kent State, the Youngstown State Poetry Center and Etruscan Press, the Akron Series of Poetry, and the student literary journals, Akros, Luna Negra, and Penguin Review.
In almost every case, financial assistance will come through the student’s gateway university. At Cleveland State, graduate assistantships in English provide students with an opportunity to teach in the Writing Center, assist faculty on editorial or other academic projects, and in some cases to teach Freshman English classes. All graduate assistantships provide tuition waiver and a stipend. A few tuition waivers may be available for part-time students. Students must apply by February 1, in order to be considered for a graduate assistantship in the following academic year. The English Department also awards tuition scholarships as prizes in annual creative-writing contests and through the Leonard Trawick Scholarship fund.
Students interested in a career teaching creative writing at the college or university level should apply to the MFA program (as opposed to the English MA concentration) in Creative Writing. An MFA will by no means ensure a college level teaching job. Substantial publication is increasingly the qualifying factor, but under the professional guidelines which govern such programs, the MFA has become a minimal degree requirement. Program students should select workshops and arrange their studies to help them write as productively as possible. An MFA program is designed to provide focus and to support creative work in ways the rest of the world does not. The quantity and quality of the writing itself, rather than the formal degree, is the proper measure of a writer’s success. Therefore, time in the program should be as productive as the student can make it. It is also important for students to plan for a writing life which offers no guarantees of financial reward or of teaching positions. When selecting an internship, it will be useful to keep this writing-life conundrum in mind: few jobs make space for the demands of creative writing, but many jobs demand people with writing skills.
To apply to the NorthEast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program:
Complete the Application for Graduate Admission at Cleveland State, checking the “English - Creative Writing NEOMFA” as the intended program of study and checking Master’s Degree. To facilitate the process, we strongly recommend that applicants use the online application system at https://applynow.csuohio.edu/CSUApply/index.jsp?careerHint=GRAD
The submission process requires that an applicant have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with an overall grade point average of 2.75 or higher and a 3.0 average in courses in English. Applicants must provide transcripts of all previous college work and, for NEOMFA applicants, three letters of recommendation. Students interested in teaching assistantships should submit a sample of academic writing, normally a research paper from an undergraduate course.
In addition to submitting an application to the Cleveland State University, applicants must also submit to the NEOMFA office, three letters of recommendation, a one-page statement of purpose, and a creative writing portfolio. Send to Steven Reese, NEOMFA Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional details about the NEOMFA see http://neomfa.org/prospective-students.