In Spring 2021, the Creative Writing MFA at City College saw an unprecedented enrollment spike. It’s not exactly clear why it occurred, but Director Michelle Valladares has some ideas about that. She has lots of ideas, in fact, about unique and exciting ways to grow the program even more while still maintaining a manageable cohort size. She is inspired by the program’s location in Harlem and is coming up with all kinds of ways to engage with the community, like the Archives as Muse: A Harlem Storytelling Project. In addition to hearing about Michelle’s innovative ideas, you’ll learn about some of the program’s outstanding alumni and faculty and successful students, a source of pride for Director Valladares. Award-winning crime novelist Walter Mosley is one of those esteemed alumni and the one who described CUNY MFA programs as the “Blue-Collar Harvard.”
It was a pleasure to sit down in person with Michelle and learn more about the MFA program which was recently profiled in Inside Higher Ed. Thanks to Angela Harden, adjunct professor and general manager of CCNY’s WHCR 90.3 FM: The Voice of Harlem, we had the perfect place to record.
Michelle is Director of the MFA Program and Lecturer in English, teaching both undergraduates and graduate students. Explore her writing and filmmaking.
Two more notes about the episode:
- Identification: Brendan Kiely is the Young Adult (YA) author who Michelle mentions.
- Clarification: Rather than forfeit his fee, poet Paul Muldoon donated his speaker fee back to the program.
Listen to Episode 65 now!