University of Mississippi

Student Success

Although a relatively young program, we can boast of some pretty impressive student success stories. Students have published work in journals like Crazyhorse, The Oxford American, Epoch, The Sun, Glimmer Train, and others. They’ve had work anthologized in The Best American Poetry , broadcast onNational Public Radio, and turned into short films. We’re enjoying a five-year streak of students being published in Best New American Voices, and each summer our students receive fellowships to conferences such as the Sewanee Writers Conference.
STUDENT STORIES A view from inside the University of Mississippi MFA in Creative Writing Program

“During my Ole Miss days (2005-2008), I got splendid instruction and warm encouragement from my writing teaches and enjoyed the companionship of writers and musicians in a charming, culturally rich town. The freedom to participate in workshops outside my primary genre proved a plus: Trying my hand as a ‘fictioneer’ helped me as a poet. Also, taking literature seminars with the University of Mississippi’s seasoned, personable professors fed my creative work. My poetry collection, Gust, from Northwestern University Press, includes nearly all of my MFA theis. Ole Miss and Oxford did right by me.”—Greg Alan Brownderville


“Early in the second year of my Ole Miss MFA, I was writing a lot of bad stories about Americans working in Iraq. After one particularly frustrating workshop, Barry Hannah gave me a lovely handwritten letter with a pirate stamp on top and a message that said, ‘Bring your tales closer to home.’ I’m pretty sure that finding myself a teaching job in Iraq wasn’t what Barry had in mind. But that’s what I did, and I’ll be forever grateful to Barry, Tom Franklin, Jack Pendarvis and the entire Ole Miss MFA faculty for not only helping me decide to go but also saving my place in the program and my funding for when I returned.”—Ryan Bubalo

“It’s amazing the maturation that three years of serious work and camaraderie with other writers can yield, and I am thankful for the time and generous funding provided by my Grisham Fellowship, which afforded me the opportunity, straight out of college, to put my poetry first. Ole Miss’ MFA program isn’t just any program, though. It has the wonderful quality of being big enough to draw Pulitzer Prize-winning authors to give readings but small enough that, on any given night, a professor might join students for dinner after class.” —Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The program at Ole Miss made me a writer. I was a mess on the page when I got there: adverbs everywhere, copying every author I admired as if I could channel them without notice. Ole Miss cured me of that. It wasn’t just the workshops, although they were crucial. It was, instead, the community, folks who quickly became friends pushing me to do my best. It was late-night talks on front porches and at the City Grocery bar, classes on Form, Craft and Influence, and the constant stream of great writers coming through Square Books. All in all, I learned what good writing was during my time in Oxford, as well as the lifelong dedication it takes to produce it. And, I also had a hell of a good time.” —M.O. Walsh, The Prospect of Magic (short story collection)

“My Ole Miss MFA experience was essential to my development as a poet. As the Grisham Fellow, I was not only given ample time and encouragement to write, I was also afforded the opportunity to coordinate the Grisham Visiting Writers Series and serve as senior editor of The Yalobusha Review. While under the guidance of Beth Ann Fennelly and Ann Fisher-Wirth, I published 25 poems in journals such as Cimarron Review, Smartish Pace, River Styx, and Subtropics.” —Danielle Sellers, Bone Key Elegies

“I came to Ole Miss from New York with a half-finished documentary film and some very rough short stories, expecting vaguely to improve my fiction. Now, beginning my third year of the MFA, the classes I’ve had in fiction and creative nonfiction have offered me far greater fluency in my prose. In my two years here, I’ve published nonfiction and been a finalist in a national fiction contest. I’ve had the time and support to successfully finish my film, which showed at a renowned festival (IDFA) and was signed with a distributor during my second year in the program. Although I am a student in fiction, the faculty have championed my development as a writer across genres, and as a filmmaker. The limited number of students admitted to the MFA and the close community here encourage this kind of individualized mentorship, which seems to me a rare strength of this program.”—Rachel Smith