Boise State’s Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is nationally ranked and recognized as one of the top programs in the country, attracting award-winning faculty and students from all over the world.
Kerri Webster, a visiting assistant MFA professor, said that the program is small and highly competitive, admitting only two to three students each year in the genres of poetry and fiction. The students are admitted on a varied basis, the most important being the writing sample included in their application.
“People come from all over the country and world,” Webster said. “It’s really an exciting mix of people from different backgrounds and different aesthetics.”
Currently, the program has three international students from China, Pakistan and India. From Webster’s perspective, all of the students are highly motivated and dedicated to their craft.
The students take four workshop courses, which, according to Webster, are the centerpiece of their degree. In addition to their workshop courses, the students complete a master’s thesis, which results in either a collection of poems, an assemblage of short stories or a novel, depending on the genre the student is studying.
“I hope these students leave being truly excellent at their craft,” Webster said. “I hope they leave here not necessarily with a thesis that becomes a book, but working toward publishing their first books.”
Hope Kelham, a first year MFA student, comes from Purdue University’s undergraduate program, where she studied varying degrees for five years. She didn’t start writing poetry seriously until her junior year. Her work focuses on social issues and how they affect interpersonal relationships.
Kelham selected Boise State’s MFA program for a variety of reasons, one of them being that it is a three year program, versus being a two year, like most programs across the country. The program is a time where she can focus on reading and writing poetry.
“Time is a big part of an MFA program,” Kelham said. “As an undergrad, I was pulling myself in three different directions, but now I have the time to focus.”
Another reason Kelham was attracted to Boise State’s program is its journal, “The Idaho Review,” where students, and other writers, have the opportunity to be published.
Kelham found the program’s primary professors, Martin Corless-Smith and Kerri Webster, to be knowledgeable. In particular, Kelham sees herself in Webster’s work, which circulates around women and gender.
“This program is a dream,” Kelham said. “I have time and expertise. One of my larger goals in life is to have a book published.”
For Sydney Britsch, a third year MFA student, the best aspect of the program is how close the students are to one another.
“I’m here to take in as much as I can, learn as much as I can,” Britsch said. “I’m here to grow and push myself both creatively and personally.”
Britsch appreciates the diversity of the professors. According to Britsch, Corless-Smith is a traditional poet, while Webster is a contemporary poet focused on a multitude of subjects.
“Personally, I’ve grown a lot in my time in the program,” Britsch said. “I’m learning how to make art an active part of my life. I feel like that is vital, especially now.”