THE MFA PROGRAM FOR WRITERS
In 1976, Ellen Bryant Voigt, renowned poet and master teacher, founded the nation’s first low-residency creative writing program. In 1981, the program relocated from Vermont’s Goddard College to one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, Warren Wilson College. Today, more than thirty-five years after its inception, the prestigious Warren Wilson MFA program remains one of the top writing programs in the nation.
Students of the program range in age from their early twenties to mid-sixties, in profession from teacher and journalist, chemist and bartender, to lawyer and lumberjack, and join us from all over the United States, Europe, and Asia. Our faculty have won virtually every major honor in the country, including MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, Pulitzer Prizes, and the National Book Award. Several have served as state poets laureate, and two have been named national poets laureate. Our alumni have published hundreds of books, and their work has recently been featured in the New Yorker and on the front page of the New York Times Book Review.
Friends of Writers, a not-for profit 501(c)(3) organization, enriches American poetry and fiction by cultivating new and vital literary voices. We do this by raising funds to support students, alumni and faculty of our partner, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. The MFA Program pioneered a model of low-residency study based on three core values: community, rigor, and diversity. Community provides support for the individual writer; rigor encourages that individual’s finest work; and diversity—in aesthetic, ethnicity, gender, age, occupational, geographic, and economic background—ensures that American writing reflects the entire nation.
Friends of Writers was established in 1991 as an independent non-profit organization. It was begun by faculty and alumni of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for the immediate purpose of raising scholarship funds. In addition to providing scholarships for WWC MFA students, it provides scholarships to the alumni conference, as well as paying other costs associated with the alumni conference. In recent years, anonymous donors have established additional funds for current students, alumni, and faculty.
Also in recent years, the MFA Program faculty have produced five writing anthologies. The editors and all contributors to those volumes donated 100% of each book’s advance and royalties to Friends of Writers’ scholarship funds; when necessary, they have also paid for reprint permissions, so Friends incurred not a single penny of expense to produce the books.
The only costs for Friends of Writers are essential legal and accounting fees. There is no office, no paid staff. Board members donate their time, the cost of travel to semi-annual meetings, and phone, FAX, and postage expenses. All donations flow directly into the scholarships to support our literary community.