On Breaks

One purpose of this blog, I think, is to give those interested in the program a sense of what life is like here in Wyoming. Here’s a list that might help. It’s no surprise to me, not really, that Laramie made the Coldest Cities in America list. Again.

Here’s another list. This one actually did surprise me. Pot capitals, really?!

Of course, one nice thing about the MFA here is funding, enough so that, during those hard winter months, you can get up and go. What follows are some trips (summaries of which remained unedited by me) that our students took over the break. Most, if not all, were funded.

Caleb Johnson: “I drove all over Florida, beginning at the Alabama state line and heading east to Saint Augustine. Then back west toward the Gulf of Mexico and finally south to Tampa. Along the way, I drank from The Fountain of Youth, stood beside the Atlantic Ocean, floated in and kayaked down a crystal-clear freshwater spring, retraced parts of the De Soto trail, visited a mermaid park, stood where De Soto first (possibly) landed, walked through a mangrove forest and swam in the Gulf.

All that and I also made headway on a few writing projects I’d been stuck on.”

Erin Fortenberry: “Traveled around Louisiana on some grant money in order to research a creative writing project I’m working on. This included visiting some LA barrier islands with a grad student in order to do a winter bird-count. Some other things that happened: midnight Cajun fishin’, zydeco two-steppin’, nutria spottin.'”

Kali Fajardo-Anstine: “Over break I didn’t do too much. I had a story come out in Existere Journal of Arts and Literature current issue. Also, I was accepted into the summer writing program Las Dos Brujas Writer’s Workshop.”

LuLing Osofsky: “I went to India to do an “essayistic exploration” of gender and utopia as it plays out at the largest intentional community in the world, known as Auroville. Auroville was founded by a French woman in 1968 known simply as “The Mother.” Indians and foreigners both have continued to build the city of Auroville, whose purpose is to be a model for humanity– wherein enlightenment is not simply for lone ascetics but for entire communities, and all of humanity. If it sounds a little new agey, it is. There were lots of flowing purple pants, incense, crystals, yoga, but also sustainable farming, tremendous work on caste rights, and still, tensions between Auroville and neighboring Tamil villages. Anyway, I interviewed a bunch of old hippies, and a fascinating cast of characters all with different ideas about utopia, and the role of women in an idealized society, as well as goddess worship in Hinduism, and how “the feminine” informs architecture in Auroville.

I befriended 1981 Miss India. She taught me some classical dance and explained her both blessed and tormented experience as a Brahmin beauty queen middle aged unmarried Indian woman. I got dysentary and it was not pretty. Stray cats wandered into my hospital room as roaches crawled across my feet and in my feverish delirium I got LSD superbrain where everything was swirling in hot pink and I could solve linear algebra problems that had been stumping me since highschool. Lying in the sunken hospital bed all the things that never made sense did. I even solved the “narrative arc” problem of my thesis.

Now I am home in Laramie and it is snowing and I do a little bit miss the gorgeous colors of saris and the wafting of jasmine and saffron, but I am so, so thankful for the QUIET.”

Yes, it is quiet here. Evens out the cold, I’d say.

It’s a small list of what students did. I’ll post more as I get them.

Reading these really reminds me how good the company is here.

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