Dave Eggers about the demographic narrowness of MFA-granting universities in this country:
“[W]hat’s scary about MFA programs is that there’s a huge amount of privilege these universities hoard. They basically have years and years and years of free writing time they can dole out. And what’s fascinating is that if you actually look at the profile of writers doing an MFA program, they look nothing like the rest of our society. They’re almost always between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-seven, so it’s almost never people with families. That eliminates a ton of folks who should be qualified for this. But because they don’t give the students enough money, if you’ve got two kids there’s no way you can get this two years of writing. I think for me the biggest problem is that, again, if it doesn’t look anything like the rest of our country, what the fuck is going on? I don’t want to read writing from twenty-six-year-old hipsters. I include myself in that category, for real.
It’s like, sixty-something percent of the adults in this country have got kids. I would love to see that kind of age range represented, because I feel like it would deepen our literary tradition. And it’s not like MFAs control the bulk of everything that gets written. But it’s a lot of money and a lot of privilege that they do control. So I’m like you, I think that at least a third to half of all MFA seats should be reserved for people with families. And the schools should figure out ways to get the kind of money so that people with families can get two or three years to write, you know, see the way our literature would change. Our literature would change in ways that would challenge all of us.”
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