So I'm sitting in the Indianapolis airport, waiting to catch a flight home after my trip to visit IU and Bloomington. I LOVED IT THERE!
The people: In previous workshops, I usually tended to vibe with a few people who seemed to be as passionate about their writing as I was. I would end up really vibing with 2, maybe 3 people each time and I was satisfied with that. Sitting in on the IU poetry workshop was like being in a room filled with only those kinds of people I would vibe with. So that's like 11 other people that are on the same page as me and share a similar passion. Maybe every MFA program is like that...maybe not...but I felt like I was in my element at Indiana. And it felt good.
The faculty: First, they rotate directors every three years, switching between a poet and a fiction writer. I definitely didn't get the sense that this school favors one genre over the other, which was nice. They do the same with the editor of the Indiana Review. This program really cares to be diverse in every way. The current director, Samrat, is really easy to talk to and he has a welcoming personality. I loved the feedback that Catherine Bowman was giving in workshop. She had wonderful suggestions and she also paid attention to how students were critiquing one another and seemed to make a point to make encouraging comments about particulary good criticisms. I was really impressed with that and I'm excited to have her take a look at some of my work! I actually can't wait to see what the students will say either. Their responses had depth and passion behind them. I could see myself really caring to know what they thought and believing that what they have to say matters. I sat in on a lit class taught by Ross Gay and I was a little awe struck (can you be just a little awe struck?) by his insights and the way he engaged the class in discussion in a relaxed but impassioned way. So that was exciting.
The city: I love downtown Bloomington! I ate Tibetan food (there's a lot of Tibetan things..who knew?) and pancakes with strawberries baked into them. I want to live within walking distance of downtown which pretty much means being within walking distance of IU too. There are coffee shops, book stores, bars, yoga spots, and tons of ethnic food places. It's just right as far as size. I mean, it's not Miami, but it definitely isn't Idaho either (I'm an authority on both lol).
So, I definitely made the right choice. I can't wait to get started in the Fall!