Writers enrolled in the MFA in Writing program may choose to attend a summer residency in Slovenia in lieu of Vermont.
The Slovenia residency is scheduled at the same time as the Vermont residency and is open to all but those entering their first semester, including alumni and postgraduate writers. The group typically consists of 14–20 people, including two faculty.
The Slovenia residency is divided between the ancient town of Škofja Loka and the capital, Ljubljana. Škofja Loka is known as the most well-preserved medieval town in Slovenia and provides an authentic cultural experience. The time in Ljubljana gives participants the opportunity to explore the cultural center of the country. The residency schedule includes excursions to cultural, artistic, historical, and natural settings, as well as meetings, lectures, and readings with Slovene writers.
An intimate and intense series of workshops, lectures, readings by the faculty and Slovene writers and translators, as well as field trips to literary and historic sites and to beautiful natural settings described by various writers will introduce students to one of the oldest European cultures. Some recent visiting writers have included Branimir Mozetič, Andrej Skubic, Mira Rosenthal, and Evald Flisar, among many others.
Students can look forward to possible excursions to the Soca valley where Hemingway began A Farewell To Arms, a cave Dante visited before writing the Inferno, the award-winning World War I museum at Kobarid, the alpine towns of Bled and Bohinj, with its 15th Century Church of St. John the Baptist, a hike to the falls in the national park Slap Savica where one of France Prešeren's most well-known poems is set, a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp with wall writings including a quote from Dickens, Roman ruins, mountaintops, and medieval churches with intriguing frescoes.
Fred Chappell, novelist, essayist, poet, and winner of the Bollingen Prize, once wrote an essay describing his ideal MFA program as one in which craft workshops were replaced in part with study of local fauna, music appreciation, natural history, geography, art appreciation, and so on.
Chappell's point is that a writer who knows only craft and not the world writes in a vacuum, and that the resulting writing can be sterile and self-referential. On the other hand, happy collisions occur when we read and experience out of our comfort zones; the result is an influx of creativity.
The philosophy of the Slovenia residency subscribes to this general principle. The point is to introduce students to the culture of another country known for its extraordinarily high percentage of writers; in many ways, the whole country is a classroom and learning experience.
Director of Student Recruitment
866-934-8232, ext. 8589
“I would have been content with the small moments that made me smile: dipping my toes into the cold water at Vintar Gorge, devouring the garlic delight of the Soča trout…But then the trip just got better and better. How could I forget a late-night reading with my peers at Metelkova, a cozy bar with our names lit up on the wall? Or the hidden inspiration in the depths of the Škocjan Caves? Whether it was learning significant WWI history or listening to Slovene poetry for the first time, I felt fortunate to be exposed to another world that inevitably opened up the world of my writing. The dialogue and seeds of friendship left a lasting impression on me.”
- Nicole Chu (Slovenia 2014)