Kellie Doherty interviews David Stevenson, UAA Creative Writing & Literary Arts Program

David Stevenson, Director of the UAA Creative Writing & Literary Arts Low-Residency MFA Program
miss this year’s Northern Renaissance Arts & Sciences Reading Series, which
begins Sunday, July 14, 8pm at UAA’s Rasmuson Hall 101 with author Linda Hogan.
View the reading schedule
How long have you been working at UAA?
I am
just beginning my sixth year. I started in 2008 when the program
transitioned from a traditional MFA program to the Low-Residency model.
What do you like most about your job?
like almost everything about my job.  Probably the single most satisfying
aspect of the work is watching students’ writing published on a national stage
and reaching a wide audience.
How long does the CWLA MFA program
usually take? 
a three year program.
You only have a select number of
students, how many writers apply to the MFA program?
competitive, and we can’t accept anywhere near the number of applicants we
consider. But they tend to self-select, so we’re not as competitive as
some other programs.
Why do you turn prospective students
most important part of prospective students’ application is their writing
sample. We take the ones we like, the ones we think are promising, the
ones in which we see a glimmer of . . . something. And they’re competing
against others writing in the same genre.
What are some of the thesis projects?
the thesis projects are book-length works in their genre, with a thesis essay
that demonstrates student’s reading and learning in their genre.
What kind of opportunities open up for
writers in the MFA program?
of our students take their work in their Literary Practicum and extend it
beyond the scope of their studies. The Practicum usually involves a literary
project in the community. Some of the very successful projects have
involved veterans returning from war and working to get their stories written
and out into the public. I think it’s safe to say that most of our
students are not here necessarily to “advance their careers” in the traditional
sense. Most are here simply to improve their writing, to see how far they
can take it in three years. It’s also true that an advanced degree can be very
useful in the marketplace and can nicely enhance a career in the arts or
Have any well-known authors come out of
the MFA program?
program has historically produced many successful writers such as Dana Stabenow
or— more recently—Don Rearden, whose novel
Raven’s Gift
is now published in four countries, or Christine Byl, whose
new book
Dirt Work is making many
summer reading lists around the country. Since we’ve only graduated two
classes of writers in the low-residency program it’s a bit premature to talk
about them as “well-known.”  But many of them are very successfully
published, including Sara Loewen, whose memoir
Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands is a gorgeous book published
by the University of Alaska Press, and Vivian Faith Prescott, who has already
published two books since graduating and whose third will be out next year,
also from the University of Alaska Press.
What other aspects of the program should
our readers know about?
have many literary events that are open to the public, particularly The
Northern Renaissance Arts & Sciences Reading Series. The series is
offered every July in conjunction with our residency and features faculty
authors, as well as guests. This year’s guests are Linda Hogan, the
well-known Chickasaw writer, Gary Freeburg the Alaskan photographer whose
recent book features the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and Joan Kane, who, of
course, lives here in Anchorage. The readings start on July
14 in the evenings at Rasmuson Hall, on the UAA campus. A complete
schedule can be found here:
What advice would you give budding

The Creative Writing & Literary Arts Program reviews applications once a year. The next deadline to apply is Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The earliest applicants may apply is November 2013.

Dr. David Stevenson has taught creative writing for more than 20 years, at the University of Utah, University of California David, and at Western Illinois University, where he was full professor and director of the Graduate Program in English. He first came to Alaska in 1977 on a ski mountaineering expedition to Mt. Kennedy, a remote peak near the Alaska-Yukon border in the St. Elias Range. He was educated at the Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington and University of Utah. He writes often about the mountaineering experience in both fiction and nonfiction prose and has published widely in journals, including the American Alpine Journal, where he has been book review editor since 1996. Recently he was named the winner of the inaugural Rick Bass/Montana Prize for Fiction Award by the Whitefish Review for his story “The Bear Outside the Door.”

1 thought on “Kellie Doherty interviews David Stevenson, UAA Creative Writing & Literary Arts Program”

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, David! And, for all you do for the literary scene in AK.

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