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May 03, 2011 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-03

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
New award for MFA
1 istudents announced


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Now & 2011-12

RELEASE DATE- Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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(c)2011 Tribune Medila Sis, Inc.

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New award offers
creative writing
students money to
work after college
Daily StaffReporter
Graduate students in the
University's creative writing
program have been given a gift
that students working their way
through college seldom receive
- the gift of time.
A new monetary gift from
Helen Zell and the Zell Fam-
ily Foundation will provide
$25,000 for one year of post-
graduate funding for graduates
of the University's Master of
Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Program, allowing former stu-
dents to complete work started
during the course of earning
their degrees.
Eileen Pollack, the pro-
gram's director and a professor
in the department of English
Language and Literature, said
students in the MFA Creative
Writing Program qualify for
post-graduate funding if they
have high academic standing
and plan to stay in Ann Arbor
while they produce finished
Pollack said the fund will
exist as a three-year experi-
ment, starting for the class of
2012 and ending in 2014. She
added that the additional fund-
ing is expected to increase inter-
est in the already successful
"Because of the generosity
of our donors and the Univer-
sity and our wonderful faculty,
we've kind of worked our way
up to become one of the top two
MFA programs in the country -
out of hundreds and hundreds
of them," Pollack said. "So we're
very proud ofthat."
The MFA Creative Writ-
ing Program was established
in the late 1980's, but the pro-
gram didn't begin offering post-
graduate funding until 1999,
when Hendrik Meijer and the
Meijer Corporation established
the Meijer Fellowship. In 2007,
Helen Zell gave the program
funding to expand its post-grad-
uate aid to endow five graduates

a year.
Pollack said the generous dona-
tions give the program an advan-
tage over others and the gift from
the Zell family will provide the
program with an "edge" in recruit-
ing new students in the future.
There are currently 22 students
in each graduating class - 12 fic-
tion writers and 10 poets - all of
whom receive financial aid pack-
ages amounting to $8,000 a
semester and $6,000 for summer
work, which covers the entirety of
their coursework expenses.
Pollack said the two-year
MFA Creative Writing Program
remains competitive against
three-year programs because the
funding allows graduates to con-
tinue the work they began in the
program for an additional year.
She added that some programs
policy to only give financial aid to
particular students didn't adhere
to their program's mission to sup-
port a writing community rather
than create cutthroat competition.
Daniel Keane, who just com-
pleted his first year in the MFA
Creative Writing Program, said
the addition to the Zell fellowship
improves the already nationally
acclaimed program.
"A really good thing about the
program here is that they're really
focused on our careers as writers,"
Keane said.
Keane said he plans to pursue
the funding in order to work on
his fiction for a third year, adding
that providing third-year funding
for all graduates will solidify the
program's position as the top in
the country.
Megan Levad, assistant direc-
tor and 2008 graduate of the MFA
Creative Writing Program, was
one of three poets in the program
to receive post-graduate funding
from the Zell Fellowship.
Levad said she thinks the new
funding will help graduates of
the program better transition into
their careers by allowing them
additional time to create a body
of work. Levad added that stu-
dents in the MFA program grow
together creatively and that pro-
viding funding will foster support
among graduates when they need
it the most.
"One of the great things about it
being available to everyone is that
they will now have real continuity
as a writing community," Levad

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