MFA series brings writers from across the country

Isabelle Williams

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Pacific University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing program held its first residency conference of the year on the scenic coastal town of Seaside from Jan. 10-17. Featuring writers from across the country, the bi-annual conference welcomed professionals from all genres to share their work with fellow authors, MFA students and the public. 

The lineup of 19 visiting faculty authors who shared their writing at the conference include novelist Molly Gloss, famed multi-genre writer Chris Abani and poet Ellen Bass. Bass found that her favorite part of the conference was hearing the graduating students’ work. “It’s deeply gratifying to hear how much this experience has enriched them,” said Bass of discovering students’ writing processes, “both as writers and as people.” 

According to Shelley Washburn, director of the MFA writing program, the residency’s primary purpose is to “create a study plan and exchange writings and ideas” with professional writers in their area of study. The residencies, held in January and June in Seaside and Forest Grove respectively, mark the beginning of each semester for MFA students. The program centers around having students interact with seasoned experts in their specific field of writing.

Linda Colwell, an alumnus of the MFA in Writing as well as a regular resident at the conference, describes the experience as one that has helped her collect creative wisdom even after she has graduated from the MFA program. “I return to the residency to find inspiration from all of the faculty and visiting writers and because it keeps me writing and thinking about writing,” Colwell explained. The next residency will take place in Forest Grove June 18-28, 2020 and will undoubtedly feature readings and talks by renowned writers from around the country once again.