MFA Creative Writing Program
Writing Program students who are interested in gaining experience teaching college-level writing have the opportunity in their second year to serve as teaching assistants in a range of writing-intensive special topics courses at the BFA level. Special topics classes are divided into a lecture portion, conducted by a member of the Critical Studies faculty, and a discussion section/writing workshop, led by the graduate student TA. The TA thus gains experience in teaching students from all disciplines from across the Institute.
In the fall semester of their second year, while teaching for the first time at the Institute, TAs will be concurrently enrolled in the Graduate Teaching Practicum, a seminar on writing pedagogy which aims to support students while they are teaching and help them find supportive community with each other; introduce them to leading theories of adult learning and writing/composition pedagogy; and offer specific strategies that emphasize creativity in the critical writing process. Through this course, students begin to develop materials for a professional teaching portfolio and receive information on how to find and apply for teaching positions. Students also receive ongoing individual mentorship in their journey as educators, so that by the time they leave CalArts they are experienced teachers, prepared to teach their own college writing courses.
With mentor approval, students may receive 3 units of core MFA Creative Writing Program credit for publishing internships, on and off campus.
In February 2017, SUBLEVEL, a new literary magazine housed in our program, will launch online. SUBLEVEL is devoted to the nexus of literature, poetics, art, criticism, philosophy, culture, and politics. It inherits and reflects the dynamism of contemporary Los Angeles as a hub of literature, art, and activism, while also stretching beyond our locality. Based in the CalArts MFA Creative Writing Program, an innovative and interdisciplinary environment dedicated to the experimental impulse in writing and thinking, SUBLEVEL is a literary publication immersed in the world of art without being in service to it. We make no hard distinctions between creative and critical enterprise, but rather celebrate writing of any kind that we find stimulating, timely, or otherwise compelling. We will publish original essays, interviews, roundtables, and other features online; there will also be an annual print component. In time SUBLEVEL will expand in ways we can only begin to imagine. SUBLEVEL is produced in collaboration with the online magazine ENTROPY, and in conversation with EAST OF BORNEO, an online art magazine also housed at CalArts. Students in our program have the opportunity to work on SUBLEVEL, but it is not a student publication, nor does it publish the work of current students. We neither focus on faculty or alumni of CalArts nor exclude them.
Interning at Les Figues provides valuable insight into the operations of a successful small press. While Les Figues Press internships are competitive and not restricted to CalArts MFA Writing students, the press has a longstanding relationship with our program and has provided internships to a number of our students, in addition to publishing several alumni. Interns assist in all aspects of Les Figues operations, including editorial, marketing, development and administrative tasks. These may include publicity projects, special events/readings, copy-editing, developing website content, grant writing, tracking and logging reviews, marketing research, data entry and more. For more information, see http://www.lesfigues.com/lfp/.
Litmus Press Internship
An internship with Litmus Press provides students with the opportunity to learn the inner-workings of a small, not-for-profit arts organization in independent publishing. Litmus Press, based in New York, is dedicated to supporting innovative, cross-genre writing. Litmus publishes full-length books of poetry, translations, and other writings, and for 13 years published Aufgabe, an annual journal of poetry, essays, notes, reviews, talks and poetry in translation. Depending on production schedules, an intern's tasks will range from managing and reading new submissions, to copy-editing and proofing books, to helping the press with publicity and fundraising activities, to writing press releases and web updates, to building social networking. There may also be opportunities to staff at readings, festivals and book fairs featuring Litmus Press authors and books. For more information on Litmus Press, please visit www.litmuspress.org.
Getting It Out There: Professional Development for Writers
“Getting It Out There” is a required course for all second-year graduate students in the MFA Creative Writing Program. It is focused around a series of panels in which guests discuss possible career paths for writers today, including publishing, editing, journalism, freelancing, reviewing, founding and running journals and small presses, curating reading series, web design, founding and managing art spaces and other non-profits, entering Ph.D programs, teaching, and more. We discuss submission processes to publishers, agents, and journals (both print and online), as well as the various apparatus of professional life, including websites, CVs, grant proposals, applications to residencies, and job applications. Students in “Getting It Out There” also attend and play an active role in the Visiting Writers series.
Next Words is both a reading series and a publication featuring new work by graduating MFA Writing students. The readings take place at venues throughout Los Angeles during the spring of each year. The book is released in conjunction with the final Showcase reading at REDCAT, which features a marathon reading by all of the graduates. Next Words is organized by second year writing students, with dedicated administrative support. It provides the Los Angeles literary community a formal introduction to the new and exciting work coming out of our program.
Past venues include:
SPRAWL is an on-campus reading series organized by first year students. Sometimes SPRAWLs take the form of an informal open mic readings; other times they are highly curated events involving first and second year writing students and students from other programs in the Institute. Whatever the design, SPRAWL is an opportunity for current students to congregate and enjoy reading and/or hearing new work outside of the classroom.
Community Arts Partnership (CAP)
The award-winning CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP), a co-curricular program of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), offers free, after-school and school-based arts programs for youth ages 6-18 in every discipline taught at CalArts. Programs are offered at public schools, community centers and social service agencies, covering a thousand square mile radius across Los Angeles County. With classes led by a teaching corps of accomplished CalArts faculty, alumni and student instructors, CAP participants learn to create original works of art and to experiment with prevailing conventions of artistic expression. CAP’s success has served as a model for other arts education organizations locally and nationally. For information on CAP stipends for student instructors, see Financial Aid.