- About MFA
- Program Details
- Student and Faculty News
- Photo Gallery
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.