Last night, we celebrated another graduating class from the MFA program here at The Ohio State University with a gala reading and reception. It’s that time of year when thousands of MFA grads across the country come up against that question, “What’s next?” The truth is that for many of those thousands of grads the…

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I was a young writer at a time when the short story enjoyed an era of great popularity, an era of Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jayne Ann Phillips, Ann Beattie, Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford, et. al. Bill Buford, then editor of Granta, coined the term “Dirty Realism” to describe the work being done in…

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Around five o’clock one evening, an emergency notice came on my phone, advising me to seek shelter immediately. Then the tornado sirens began to wail. My wife Cathy and I gathered up our orange tabby, Stella the Cat, and headed to our basement. The rain came and the hail. Then, everything went still. The wind…

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It’s MFA thesis defense season here at Ohio State, which always reminds me of my own MFA experience at the University of Arkansas. So much of my education as a writer was a process of becoming aware of how much I didn’t know. At the time, it was often discouraging to realize just how humbling…

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Here at the beginning of April 1, I think about the rapidly approaching deadline for those of you about to make a decision on which MFA program to attend. For those of you with more than one offer to consider, I’m re-running this post from five years ago, one in which I offer some advice…

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