In OSU-Cascades’ low-residency MFA risk-taking is the standard for art-making. In our program, you will find the solidarity, intimacy and inspiration to show up and write bravely—wherever you are, however complex your “real life,” whatever the storms you have to brave to get to the desk and thrive. Our curriculum is engineered to fit the pace of your life, to nurture sustainable writing habits, and to teach you the skills needed to sustain a creative livelihood after graduation.
Our innovative, holistic curriculum is designed to build all of the muscles around the imagination. Our students take unique courses like Compositional Improvisation (which, as Core Faculty Poet TC Tolbert puts it, is another way of being alive), Poetry for Prose Writers, Turning Empathy Into Action, Collaboration & Installation, and Writers Without Borders. We invite Distinguished Visiting Artists to join us for our ten-day residencies at Caldera Arts and install interactive art exhibits like DACA lounges and Dream Sanctuaries made from origami butterflies. All students participate in a Graduating Student Collaborative Capstone, a public project that demonstrates creativity, vision, risk and place-based art-making.
In the MFA in Creative Writing at OSU-Cascades, we believe writing is an act of attention, where attention is a way of caring for the world. We believe growing creative writers requires so much more than instruction in craft, the history of literature, and the landscape of contemporary creative writing. Apprentice writers need to learn to take risks, to mess up the metaphor, to reach too far, to reach in the wrong direction, to invest in the questions that don’t have easy answers, to stay with the moment of questioning and soul-ache and uncertainty and physical and emotional doubt—because that is where art happens, when there is something at stake for the writer. If the writer isn’t changed by the act of writing, the writer isn’t doing work. As Robert Frost famously said, No tears in the writer, no tears for the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
Our Core Faculty is one of the most diverse in the country, and all of the writers who teach in our program are committed to teaching students to write and speak about matters of race, discrimination and social justice in the workshop and in their personal and professional lives. Our students works with a group of nationally-recognized teacher-practitioners that is less than 50% white and less than 50% male. Our students are exposed to non-Western and non-Anglophone literatures, collaborate on social-justice driven projects and receive instruction in how to create a public persona as an artist, how to grow an artistic community, and how to engage with audiences in ways that are meaningful and nourishing for both artist and audience.
The low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is designed to balance the modern writer’s need for both solitude and community, for both freedom and responsibility—to give our students the freedom as well as the discipline to write. Our comprehensive approach to creative writing pedagogy incorporates instruction in the craft, community, and profession of creative writing, educating our students in every aspect of the craft of writing and the writing life.
While each student follows an individualized course of study, in general, students who graduate with our low-residency MFA in Creative Writing degree will have the skills to:
Internships are an important opportunity for our MFA in Creative Writing students to experience the ways in which, as CAConrad puts it best, we are artists and WE ARE USEFUL.
Internships are largely self-directed; you will, however, benefit from the guidance and advice of a faculty supervisor.
Caldera is founded on research-based, positive youth-development values, which offer access to constructive and sustained relationships with adults; activities that build life skills; participation in a supportive, valued community; and culturally sensitive practices. Under the supervision of Program Director Emily Carr, teaching interns lead reflective writing and interview workshops for Caldera's High School Youth Program. In these foundational workshops, Caldera students discover that it’s okay to write and have feelings and emotions. These writing labs create an open, welcoming environment for students to write and express emotion, practice public speaking, and advocate for themselves. They are designed to give students permission to keep writing and expressing how they feel.
Located in the Old Ironworks District of Bend, the Workhouse offers an atmosphere of camaraderie, excellence, innovation and creativity. It’s a space for creative exchange between buyers and makers from all disciplines, for building a vibrant and sustainable local community, for sharing ourselves in the hopes of living in a better world, simply because we keep on trying. Working with and learning alongside makers from the Workhouse teaches us to foster vital and creative relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs and to get back to work.