Guest Post by Deborah Bayer

Several years ago, when I became serious about reading and writing poetry, I considered applying to low-residency MFA programs in poetry. I did my research on the best programs; I began assembling my application materials. Then I began reading works by poets who chose not to get an MFA, and I began to examine my motives. Since poetry is a late career for me, and I already have a steady day job, I don’t intend to teach. What I do want is an environment that will make me read a lot, write a lot, get helpful feedback on my poems, get to know some world-class writers, and be in a supportive community of writers. With the network of poets I’ve met through taking classes at local colleges, taking workshops with Murphy Writing Seminars, and through SJ Poets, I’m able to accomplish all of the above at a fraction of the cost of an MFA, and there will be no big letdown when my program ends, because it never has to. Email me ( if you have suggestions on how I can improve my “self-directed” MFA, and come to Dante Hall on March 26, when I will be opening for Cynthia Arrieu-King, one of the teachers I’ve been fortunate to study with.