MFA in Writing & Publishing (Residential)

Faculty Greeting

Trinie Dalton, Faculty Chair, welcomes you to the MFA in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

The willingness to continually revise one’s own location in order to place oneself in the path of beauty is the basic impulse underlying education. One submits oneself to other minds (teachers) in order to increase the chance that one will be looking in the right direction when a comet makes a sweep through a certain patch of sky. The arts and sciences, like Plato’s dialogues, have at their center the drive to confer greater clarity on what already has clear discernibility, as well as to confer initial clarity on what originally has none.

— Elaine Scarry,
On Beauty and Being Just

To crystallize and redefine what is already clear, and to elucidate the ineffable—these are skills we need as writers, and these are among the aesthetic goals we pursue at VCFA’s MFA in Writing & Publishing. The educational model in this new residential program unifies the finest elements of the USC Master of Professional Writing and VCFA’s Low-Residency MFA in Writing Program, two programs I’ve been privileged to teach in for many years. Since MPW now finds its home at VCFA, our new curriculum directly integrates the cross-genre and industry-facing programming nurtured by USC MPW’s Director, Brighde Mullins. And—as VCFA is already a pioneer in a pedagogy that entails close mentorship, collegiate alliance between faculty and students, and individualized courses of study—our residential curriculum is malleable enough to be responsive to each incoming class. A graduate program thrives when the student body has a supportive and uninhibited, yet rigorously guided setting in which every voice is consistently heard. Our students’ needs come first, always.

We support individual exploration, progressive experimentation, and cross-genre as well as cross-disciplinary thinking, though not at the expense of immersion in individual genres—if you can articulate your aims and passions, we can shape a course of study that offers you the right balance of concentration, specialization, and latitude to play. Play? Yes, play within a demanding, creative learning environment is far from diversion, it is an occupation that leads to revelation, invention, declarations and performances of authorship and creative identity. Without open-mindedness, education cannot yield the artistic cognizance and personal permission it takes to embrace authentic subject matter, writing style, genre, and medium. This cognizance metamorphoses project-to-project and manuscript-to-manuscript throughout a writer’s life; stock writing advice won’t help. A writer needs instruments to provoke the critical thinking and aesthetic consciousness required to identify and implement various projects throughout creative life. 

I have experienced this necessity as an author myself, and have developed learning and teaching strategies through classroom experiences in MFA Writing and MFA Fine Art programs, as well as in undergraduate education similarly wide-ranging. Teaching not only writing to writers, but writing to artists, teaching ESL, teaching at-risk youth, and more has taught me the value of translation and correspondence, both terms that I interpret broadly. Cross-genre and cross-disciplinary learning promotes translation between fields, which is crucial in any globally conscientious atmosphere. MFAWP’s emphasis on experiential and service-based learning also enhances this awareness, and includes what we call our industry-facing approach. Our Publishing & Fieldwork curriculum, Directed Study opportunities, and other practice-oriented activities encourage guided self-direction to cultivate the discipline, fortitude, and deep commitment it takes to survive as an innovative writer. 

Our founding faculty bring diverse, manifold, multi-genre talents into the classroom. These are colleagues I have personal experience with, praised repeatedly by students for their magnanimous, energized, inspired, and punctilious approaches. This faculty understands that good teaching entails determined and confident, yet sympathetic mentorship as students strive to craft distinctive paths. 

Learn how to write in the classroom, and learn through life experience and exposure how to be an actively engaged writing citizen. It is an exciting and rare opportunity to create and participate in a brand new collegial community precipitated from two well-established heritages. I welcome your voices in continuously shaping this program as we traverse constantly shifting, always stimulating literary landscapes.

Trinie Dalton,
Faculty Chair, MFA in Writing & Publishing at VCFA


Miciah Bay Gault

Program Director, MFA in Writing & Publishing
Editor, Hunger Mountain

866-934-8232, ext. 8779
[email protected]