Cose che posso dire circa i Corsi di Scrittura MFA adesso che non insegno più

Mi è capitato di trovare un articoletto sul Guardian che parlava di questa roba qui:

Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One

Source: The stranger

Voglio riportarne dei pezzi, provare a tradurre qualcosa (malamente, che tradurre non è il mio lavoro) perché è interessante e fa anche un sacco ridere. Pare che sul web si sia scatenata una gran polemica a proposito. Tanto per chiarire la mia posizione sin dal principio: penso che il tizio (Ryan Boudinot)  abbia ragione su tante cose e che sia volontariamente rude, cosa che apprezzo. Quindi se sei un aspirante scrittore insicuro evita di leggere sta roba che ti chiudi e basta. Se sei un benpensate… beh, che ci fai qui? Se invece hai  voglia di farti due risate e di prenderti un po’ in giro è una lettura divertente. 🙂

I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.

Writers are born with talent.

If you complain about not having time to write, please do us both a favor and drop out.

I went to a low-residency MFA program and, years later, taught at a low-residency MFA program. “Low-residency” basically means I met with my students two weeks out of the year and spent the rest of the semester critiquing their work by mail. My experience tells me this: Students who ask a lot of questions about time management, blow deadlines, and whine about how complicated their lives are should just give up and do something else. Their complaints are an insult to the writers who managed to produce great work under far more difficult conditions than the 21st-century MFA student. On a related note: Students who ask if they’re “real writers,” simply by asking that question, prove that they are not.

Se ti lamenti di non avere tempo per scrivere, per favore fai un favore a entrambi e molla. […]

Gli studenti che chiedono se sono ‘veri scrittori’ semplicemente facendo questa domanda provano di non esserlo.

If you aren’t a serious reader, don’t expect anyone to read what you write.

Without exception, my best students were the ones who read the hardest books I could assign and asked for more. One student, having finished his assigned books early, asked me to assign him three big novels for the period between semesters. Infinite Jest, 2666, and Gravity’s Rainbow, I told him, almost as a joke. He read all three and submitted an extra-credit essay, too. That guy was the Real Deal.

Conversely, I’ve had students ask if I could assign shorter books, or—without a trace of embarrassment—say they weren’t into “the classics” as if “the classics” was some single, aesthetically consistent genre. Students who claimed to enjoy “all sorts” of books were invariably the ones with the most limited taste. One student, upon reading The Great Gatsby (for the first time! Yes, a graduate student!), told me she preferred to read books “that don’t make me work so hard to understand the words.” I almost quit my job on the spot.

No one cares about your problems if you’re a shitty writer.

I worked with a number of students writing memoirs. One of my Real Deal students wrote a memoir that actually made me cry. He was a rare exception. For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy. They want someone to feel sorry for them, and they believe that the supposed candor of their reflective essay excuses its technical faults. Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.

I tuoi problemi non interessano a nessuno  se sei uno scrittore di merda.

Ho lavorato con un certo numero di studenti che scrivevano memorie. Uno dei miei studenti ‘Real Deal’ [le eccezioni notevoli] ha scritto delle memorie che mi hanno fatto letteralmente piangere. Era una rara eccezione. Per la maggior parte, gli studenti MFA che scelgono di scrivere memorie sono narcisisti che usano questo genere come terapia. Vogliono qualcuno che li compatisca, e credono che il supposto candore dei loro saggi riflessivi ne controbilanci i difetti tecnici. Il fatto che sia stato molestato da bambino non fa sì che la tua incapacità di mantenere lo stesso tempo verbale per più di due frasi sia più sopportabile. In effetti, dover sgobbare su 500 pagine delle tue memorie da studente crivellate di errori mi fa solo desiderare che avessi sofferto di più.

It’s not important that people think you’re smart.

After eight years of teaching at the graduate level, I grew increasingly intolerant of writing designed to make the writer look smart, clever, or edgy. I know this work when I see it; I’ve written a fair amount of it myself. But writing that’s motivated by the desire to give the reader a pleasurable experience really is best. I told a few students over the years that their only job was to keep me entertained, and the ones who got it started to enjoy themselves, and the work got better. Those who didn’t get it were stuck on the notion that their writing was a tool designed to procure my validation. The funny thing is, if you can put your ego on the back burner and focus on giving someone a wonderful reading experience, that’s the cleverest writing.

Qui The stranger c’è il testo completo. 

Qui c’è la risposta di J.C. Sevcik, lo studente le cui memoria l’hanno fatto piangere. LINK

Un piccolo estratto, per chiudere con una nota di dolcezza:

Apparently I rose to Ryan’s standards with my memoir. But let’s be clear. Ryan’s opinion is merely that: Ryan’s opinion. Ryan alluded to me in his piece clearly enough for our MFA community to recognize me, whom he referred to as one of the “real deal” writers he’s worked with during his tenure as an adviser. He unexpectedly listed me as one of his favorite Pacific Northwest writers in a subsequent interview, a flattering but dubious honor because it was couched in disparaging comments about cohorts and colleagues whom I love, respect, and admire. It put me in an awkward position with a lot of friends who were offended by his remarks, and left a whole bunch of people wondering what an unknown like me was doing next to names like Rebecca Brown, Maria Semple, Tom Robbins, Neal Stephenson, and Raymond Carver (I’m touched to be mentioned in such good company, but I definitely don’t deserve it).

But here’s some hilarious irony: I was late. A lot. I had a serious problem with laziness and procrastination and time management, and I complained about not having enough time. (I even asked for advice on managing my time, which Ryan gave generously. Really good advice, in fact.) Because Ryan seemed to take a sadistic joy in assigning a heavy reading load my first semester, I asked for shorter books my second. I’ve always been an avid reader but didn’t decide to take writing seriously until I was 20. I didn’t get around to reading The Great Gatsby until grad school. I love David Foster Wallace but still haven’t read Infinite Jest. I handed in work riddled with typos. And I totally used my memoir as therapy.

Yet despite being guilty of all the writerly cardinal sins Ryan complained about, I’m still the “real deal” in Ryan’s eyes.

And as far as I’m concerned, anyone who writes and keeps writing is the real deal, too.

Img:I’m writing u a poem by saltyshadow


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