2012, Year of Poets & Writers

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It started as poems and short stories and quickly expanded to songs. She would love to write a novel, screenplay, and maybe even a memoir once she has lived a little more. She has got a lot to say. Tammy was blessed with a voice that she finds super annoying but other people thankfully really like. Carolina has written in Lunas Locas, an LA all womens writing circle centering voices of color. Hi Caterina, just to correct a few misimpressions I think you may be under and I should note that all of these clarifications are available, also, in the online, freely-available methodology article for the rankings, which I definitely recommend to you and any others reading this : 1 None of the surveys completed for the rankings proper were conducted on my personal website; 2 substantial empirical evidence about those surveyed is available in the methodology article including the bases for their information, the number of programs they applied to, and many other pieces of internal demographic data ; 3 many education rankings, including the longest-running and most popular such rankings in the United States those published for the last quarter-century by U.

In any case, I know none of these responses are particularly surprising to you; you e-mailed me directly about the rankings last month, asking all these questions and more, and I answered you in some detail -- in fact at greater length than I have here. During that prior exchange, you were going by a different name I don't know what your real name is, but it wouldn't change my responses in any case, of course and you indicated that the primary reason for your ire toward the rankings was your dissatisfaction with the ranking of your alma mater -- a ranking you felt was hindering your professional opportunities.

To that concern I can only say that the program you mention is highly ranked, that employers do not in fact hire new employees on the basis of rankings designed for use by applicants nor should they , and that certainly no ranking system can please the graduates of every program -- the important thing is that the ranking methodology be transparent, coherent, readily available, and probative.

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Which is certainly the case here. Thanks for your comments, --Seth Abramson. I'm supposed to be persuaded by your argument above, Seth? Harvard law degree or not and by the way, my former "white-trash" parents got full rides at Harvard, so I'm not intimidated by your resume : You consistently contradict yourself on this point; you admit, on the one hand, that there's nothing scientific about this "ranking" system, but on the other hand, you try to justify your "rankings" as meaningful.

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You can't HAVE it both ways, as much as you seem to want to. I actually took the time to read--quite carefully, in fact--your "methodology. By the way, I've noticed how often you respond to your critics by saying "Perhaps the source of your confusion is You did the same in your response, on this site, to me.

I don't know what you mean by your "personal" Web site. Later I'll write more about your apparent misapprehension of my points, but for now: Don't assume that those of us who find fault with your "methodology" fail to comprehend it; your "methodology" section wasn't "comprehensive"; it was, instead, unnecessarily long.

Hi Caterina, I'm not sure what my educational background has to do with anything?

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In any case, I actually wasn't trying to persuade you; I know from our previous conversations off-site that you can't be persuaded, my factual clarifications were actually intended for others who might be reading this and erroneously believe that some of the things you've said are accurate.

Your latest comment adds some new inaccuracies that now must also be addressed which is disheartening, but keeping the methodology for the rankings clear, concise, and available to all is one of the tasks that's been set for me and that I set for myself. I did not say there is "nothing" scientific about the rankings; in fact, the methodology article is quite clear that this isn't so. The funding, job-placement, fellowship-placement, student-to-faculty ratio, and selectivity rankings all use available hard data the largest such stock of MFA-related hard data in the world and constitute a statistically-sound ordering of that data, just as the rest of the rankings table which recites nearly ten other program features for every program listed is constituted almost entirely of hard data.

Education rankings are not merely a single column; media outlets which publish rankings deliberately and conspicuously publish all constituent data so that consumers of the rankings can use individual columns as they see fit.

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So yes, someone interested only in attending a program considered excellent by one's peers is likely to use the left-most column in the rankings, that column by which the rankings are ordered as some method of ordering must be found ; but those who are more interested in other program features will use the other -- separate and distinct -- rankings columns to create their own hierarchies, and they will then of course further inflect those hierarchies, as they should, with their own subjective values and interests.

Anyone who wants to only use the "scientific" portion of the rankings table, which is substantial, is free to do so and need not worry about the vagaries of surveys. I've always addressed your concerns head-on -- if you don't like the answers, I do believe it's for the reason you already gave me in prior correspondence: you don't like what the answers mean for your personally and professionally. But as a researcher my obligation is to accuracy and to all consumers of the rankings, not one person.

I hope you can understand that. Best, --Seth P.

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The Creative Writing MFA Blog was not founded by me, is not owned by me, is not run by me, and is "voiced" by depending upon the day and the post any of the site's seventeen moderators, of which I'm only one. My personal website, The Suburban Ecstasies, was founded by me, is owned by me, and is authored exclusively by me -- and none of the polling for the rankings was conducted there, as I've already said. Seth, I've been mostly gracious to you in our few email exchanges, but I object to the way you so often condescend to those who disagree with you.

I can be persuaded by a good argument; the best you could do the last time was to say that "we'll have to agree to disagree. I brought up credentials, by the way, because you advertise yours in every possible context. Thus, it's unfair of you to claim that I'm the one who can't be persuaded I conceded something rather significant to you once, actually--I still have the email in which I did so, in fact. I know for certain that some people won't post comments about anything you've said or written for the same reason I nearly didn't.

You put yourself out there on the Internet, after all--more so than any other serious poet I can think of anywhere, at any time. For one thing, many of your postings are exceedingly long— words or more, in some cases—and they therefore take a long time to read. I hope others will post soon so that I can retreat from the discussion and just observe. Please don't respond to this comment; I'm asking you that as a favor. You've had your say, over and over and over again.


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Can I now have a tiny slice of this ongoing discussion? Just in case that wasn't clear to you. Further, if these prospective students have done such a remarkable job researching these programs for themselves, why do they need you to rescue them with your data? Why not serve as a more disinterested—meaning, impartial—participant in this process?

I think you would be more credible to many of your critics. The quality of the alumni was one of the most important factors for me, as was the makeup of the faculty. That the program has really wild MFA parties? But I picked up the phone and called them to ask about funding. I'm mystified as to why you included that in a section on methods. I could spend much more time raising questions about that section. As far as applicants' research is concerned: I highly doubt that most MFA applicants look up every single program or even most of them online for themselves.

I liked Tom's book, very much. I read it before I'd ever heard of you. I used to like his site, too, but it became too contentious--and certainly not because of me, someone who's posted only twice there, and posted only extremely short, innocuous comments. But if he's going to turn the book into a formal rankings game, I probably won't enjoy future editions. I'm on or WAS on your email list. You could have written me privately to confirm that I was the person who posted the comment; I would have been happy to tell you. I'll need to find out now what the magazine's official policy regarding online privacy is.

Hi Caterina, I think you're failing to distinguish between condescension and this simply being a conversation in which I have more facts and more experience at my disposal -- not because I'm any better than you or anyone else, but because this project is one I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on.

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You've consistently made your comments personal, which is consistent I would guess with the fact that, as you've told me several times here and elsewhere, this is a personal issue for you. It is not a personal issue for me. I don't have an educational pedigree I'm trying to protect; I don't have an ax to grind. I know how the rankings were compiled and I merely correct misstatements on that topic whenever and wherever they arise, the better to spread accurate information rather than disinformation or misinformation.

So I will continue to correct your misstatements because it's my job to do that. I'm afraid I honestly don't see any of this as defending myself. I see it as correcting you. You continue to repeat that you've read the methodology article, but I'm afraid I don't believe you. You note, for instance, that we have no way of knowing how important a consideration location was for surveyed applicants -- but we do, as that information is clearly stated on pg. You ask, with seeming bewilderment, why programs weren't contacted directly; in last year's methodology article which you indicated previously you had read there's an entire section devoting to answering just that question.

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In any case, that said, there's much we agree on: The most common critique of the rankings is that current students and faculty should be surveyed about their own programs; I'm glad that you see, as I do, the impossibility of that methodology though later in your note you seem to contradict yourself by bemoaning the fact that those surveyed "have no direct experience with the programs"; that sounds like a walk-back to me.

But where we diverge is in your insistence that for instance a program's acceptance rate is not hard data, but rather "hard data" in scare-quotes , a somewhat petty bit of recalcitrance which doesn't suggest you're interested in a serious discussion here. The important thing, though, is that just because you don't see the value in anything but unranked recitations of hard data doesn't mean that others do not.

For all that you imply that I am narrow-minded and obsessive, the methodology I've spent years working on in conjunction with many others, BTW; it's hardly the case that all the work has been mine is intended to suit the disparate needs and interests of thousands of applicants, whereas the assessment regime you insist upon is really only targeted toward increasing your own chances of getting a job, if I understand you correctly.

Likewise, you persist in smearing the rankings, or at least the contextual demographic surveys done in conjunction with the rankings, as somehow the product of my own opinions e. It's customary for me and a lot of people, I think to engage with others by their first name; as I didn't know what your true first name was or is, I put both possibilities in my last note to you. Generally speaking, it's easier to get someone to honor a plea that they not respond to you if you avoid a personally insulting them, b misstating facts you know are important to them, c asking non-rhetorical questions they're in a position to answer, or d misleading your reader as to things you've said previously, or that another has said previously, or regarding your own level of research on a topic.

I respect that ambition enormously; certainly, engaging Art directly is the first and foremost thing on the mind of nearly all artists myself included. But those who aim to give back to their communities in other ways as well -- whether it be by running a reading series, being an editor, starting up a non-profit to benefit poets and writers, or, yes, trying to widely disseminate heretofore unavailable information to an information-starved class of persons -- generally have to put themselves "out there" more often to perform these other functions of a community member.

I know you don't like a lot of what I say, and I'm certain you think much of it distracts, too, from my primary function that of a poet , but I can only tell you that I recognize gathering this data entails not only a good deal of work but also a good deal of responsibility, and I try to deliver on that responsibility by always being available to discourse about the work that I do. If that makes me unpopular among some, I hope many more others will see it merely as a case of me trying to hold myself accountable. And if the overwhelmingly positive response I and others have received regarding the new rankings is any indication, I do think most folks understand this is just a question of a poet taking a non-artistic role in his community very seriously.

But have no fear, I take my poetry even more seriously than this! I have always respected you and your work, but I feel you were very rude and condescending to the other poster. I feel you had no right to publish her real name; if she wanted people to know it, then she would have posted under her name.

We all make mistakes from time to time. My goal was to correct some incorrect things the OP said and to address her in a less frantic and more respectful fashion than she did me. Addressing someone by their real first name is part of that, for me. It's how I was raised. I also showed a lot of patience toward this person in some very aggressive off-site correspondence, and I suppose patience is an exhaustible commodity. Mainly, though, I just fundamentally have much more respect for people who state strong opinions under something other than a pseudonym.