Interview with Jeff Mann, Virginia Tech

S_ImagesPeopleMannJeff Mann‘s creative writing is informed by his interests in Southern history, the gay/lesbian experience, and Appalachian folklife. He has published three award-winning poetry chapbooks, Bliss, Mountain Fireflies, and Flint Shards from Sussex; three full-length books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, and Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology; two collections of personal essays, Edge: Travels of an Appalachian Leather Bear and Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South; a novella, Devoured, included in Masters of Midnight: Erotic Tales of the Vampire; a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; and a volume of short fiction, A History of Barbed Wire, which won a Lambda Literary Award.  He is Director of Creative Writing at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Robin Tung: What does the admissions committee look for in a candidate?

Jeff Mann: We look first and foremost for a candidate with an excellent writing sample. Having some teaching experience is very welcome, though certainly not required. We also look for folks who seem eager to learn and to be part of a university literary community.

RT: What are admissions rates like?

JM: We had around 190 applicants the last time.  We took 8…but normally we can only take 6 or 7 (because of funding).

RT: Does the program have certain stylistic leanings?

JM: Not really. If you look at the work of our faculty, you’ll see that it’s exceedingly diverse. So we prefer diversity of all sorts in our students as well.

RT: How closely do faculty work with students, and will there be any changes in faculty in the next year?

JM: Since our program is so small–8 faculty members and around 21 students-faculty do work closely with students. The faculty will be the same during the next year: we have no one incoming or leaving.

RT: What do you think is unique about Virginia Tech’s MFA program?

JM: The diversity of our faculty and students, and the opportunity for students to study new media writing.

RT: How are alumni faring post-graduation?

JM: Very well! Several have won literary awards and published books, and quite a few have gotten teaching jobs.


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