Interview with MFA Alumna Dot Winslow
Dot Winslow is a recent graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program. She was an assistant poetry editor for Lunch Ticket and has been recently published in Waymark. She is a California Poets in the Schools trainee and studying to become a Certified Applied Poetry Therapy Facilitator.
How did you go about preparing for your readings?
My mentor read my manuscript draft and made some suggestions, and once the project period was over I chose my favorite pieces to read and pieces that were influenced in particular by my mentors. I practiced my readings with my home workshop groups and friends, to get a feel for what would work well and to work out potential issues and timings. What I found most helpful was the advice I received from more experienced poets who had done countless readings and practicing with friends as my audience when I got to school. They helped me work out my timings and what I wanted to say for my thank yous, which I ended up writing down and interspersing through my reading.
Compared to when you first started the program and now, how did you feel confidence-wise on sharing your work with the public? What have you noticed about your work?
When the time came for my reading, I viewed the experience as dessert. The experience of reading in front of such a large audience was nerve-wracking but also fun, since I had worked so hard for that moment. I had also done brown bag readings every residency and read at open readings during the project periods, so I had practice before at smaller events.
Now that you’ve graduated, what would you say is the biggest takeaway from the program?
Community and guidance are the biggest takeaways. The program gives students the opportunity to network and creates a support system of peers, friends, and mentors, and if students use their time to develop these relationships and skills, they come away with an invaluable experience. My writing improved due to the involvement in the community through my friends and Lunch Ticket and through the guidance my mentors gave me, which I will be able to utilize for the rest of my life.
What plans/goals do you have now that you’ve graduated?
I plan to read for pleasure and find the center of gravity in each book and collection I read, and expand my personal canon and continue the practice of writing. I will continue to build and be involved in my literary community at home, and begin going deeper into my training to become a poetry therapist.
What advice would you give to new students and those planning on applying to the MFA program?
My advice is to search inside yourself and examine your intentions and define what your vocation is. This program helped me to discover my vocation because I followed my passion for writing poetry, and now I can actually help others with my craft. This is what Antioch does best: it marries the passion of the art with the mindful responsibility of helping others. Show this desire in your application and prove how dedicated you are to this passion and to the two years of work ahead.
By Lily Caraballo