Director's Message

Our First Year

Summertime greetings!

As we take pause from our whirlwind academic year, I’d like to celebrate the first birthday of our fledgling MFA program.  

We welcomed a cohort of five talented students—three poets and two fiction writers—who bonded right away, dubbing themselves “The Band of Poets.” They shared many writing interests and challenges despite working in different genres, and elected to stay together in their monthly workshops. In January a new student interested in fiction writing joined the “Band” and surprised us with poems during the summer residency. The cross-genre conversation has been lively, supportive, and inspiring!

I’m grateful to my Dominican colleagues--Judy Halebsky, Thomas Burke, and Marianne Rogoff--for their dedication to our students.  As mentors, they not only instruct, but build the kind of friendship that’s essential to a thriving writing community. Our program would never have gotten off the ground without them.

During the residencies, our students participated in workshops, panel discussions, and writing activities led by a diverse treasure of poets, writers, and teachers from the Bay Area. Al Young, Robert Hass, Nina Schuyler, Terry Lucas, Ellery Akers, Ellen Bass, Indigo Moor, just to name a few, came to share their expertise. Take a look at the complete roster on our website:  We thank the Marin Poetry Center for helping sponsor our poets. We look forward to a continued partnership!

Throughout the summer our students are reading in preparation for their fall semester. I’m enjoying designing their syllabi and planning for a rich literary winter residency. As David Jauss points out in “The Real Story about Low-Residency MFAs” (Writer’s Digest), “the low-residency model is the ideal way to learn to write, and…can offer an education vastly superior to that of traditional programs.” That was back in 2014, and the low-res programs have only gotten better!

I have just returned from a week of poetry writing at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. The week’s intensive reminded me of the deeply pleasurable work of writing; moreover, I’m eager to bring what I learned from my fellow SVCW poets into my MFA teaching.

This has been quite an adventure—I look forward to another productive year ahead.

Joan Baranow, Director
Low-Residency MFA Creative Writing
Dominican University of California

Joan Baranow