Tracker Pixel for Entry

AN ESSENTIAL NON-ESSENTIAL

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Writer's Block | May 6th, 2016

By Karen Kohoutek

I came to the MFA program through a series of flukes and coincidences. I happened to attend a student literary reading a friend was hosting at the public library, that was led by Mark Vinz, one of my former professors. He caught me afterwards, and he told me about the then-new MFA program.

A few weeks later, I was interviewing with him and Lin Enger to become their first teaching assistant, and I left a corporate insurance job to return to academia, changing the whole course of my life. With a section of Freshman Comp to teach, and the full load of my own graduate credits that went with it, most days I left for campus at 6 a.m., and didn’t get back until 10 p.m.

I had to schedule times to wash my hair.

But the MFA was an amazing experience. The professors were great, and even better was the camaraderie of a diverse group of writers – differing not only in their personalities and life experiences, but in what they wrote about, and the style in which they did it. Unlike some creative writing classes, no one ever tried to push me into a house style. Instead, the teachers worked to help draw out our own voices.

It took a while to fully put these lessons into practice, but it was the MFA that caused me to commit to sharing my writing publicly. Without it, I might well still be writing furtively in notebooks I wouldn’t want anyone else to see.

The program’s closing was a loss to the university and the larger community disproportionate to its size. The literary activities that expanded out from it, and its very existence, represented an ideal that’s invaluable to society. It showed that people right here in Fargo-Moorhead were truly committed to embracing the arts and making them central to their lives, and provided a collective role model of embracing the intangibles that give life any meaning at all.

Even in the act of paying tribute, I feel guilty about all the students, especially the ones already in the area or at MSUM, who are missing an opportunity that was invaluable to me, and won’t see any similar opportunities on the horizon.

It’s fitting that the program’s last days should be marked with a New Orleans-style funeral: a celebration of what was in the midst of what’s been lost. In New Orleans, on Mardi Gras morning, neighborhoods are awakened by the Skull and Bones gangs, revelers in skeleton costumes, many of which are emblazoned with the chilling colloquial phrase: “You next.”

We can be sure that some other absolutely essential non-essential is already in line to be next.

IF YOU GO:

MFA in creative writing: New Orleans Funeral Celebration

Thursday, May 12, 9-11:30 p.m.

Usher’s House, 700 1st Ave N, Moorhead

Recently in:

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part five in the series on racism in North Dakota. The state is no stranger to hate groups seeking attention, and while Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement form hit lists of North…

I have purchased many computer printers in my time, some good, some bad, some terrible! It has always been a necessary evil to have a printer on your desk. Early dot matrix printers were a nightmare to keep running, keep the paper…

Friday, April 28, Various timesMarcus West Acres Cinema, 4101 17th Ave, FargoThis movie, based on the award-winning novel by Kent Nerburn, is a story about a road trip through Minnesota and the Dakotas showing the beauty, tragedy,…

We’re living through hard times, but they are hard times with an important basic amenity: strong, tasty beer and ale, brewed by independent craft brewers. When did it all start? Historians are in disagreement. In 1976, the low…

Are we nearing the end of the human race?Moore’s Law is a rather simple observation made by Gordon Moore back in 1965 when he founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, two very important computer chip makers. He remarked that he…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

All About Food

​Twist

by Logan Macrae

On Saturday at 4:40pm I headed into Twist to grab a quick bite to eat before work. I was promptly greeted by one of their friendly serving staff. I was in a bit of a hurry as I worked at 5:30pm and I needed to get in and out, and…

By Sabrina Hornung and Tom Bixby sabrina@hpr1.comGoing back in time for one night only, the Sidestreet Grille presents a powerfully nostalgic show. You’ll remember where you were and what you shouldn’t have done!And how to…

Now on Netflix instant watch and not to be missed is director Keith Maitland’s “Tower,” one of the most memorable and gripping films of 2016. Carefully, even meticulously, constructing a moment-by-moment chronological account…

Arts

Gardens Galore!

by Sabrina Hornung

After months of planning, a theme was chosen. This year the Plains Art Spring Gala totes a decadent Art Nouveau-inspired theme with Gardens Galore. Art Nouveau imagery is known for its flowing, organic, nature-inspired forms as it…

Ovid’s mythological tales undergo dramatic transformation by award-winning director/playwright Mary Zimmerman as Concordia, MSUM, and NDSU deliver theatrical productions of three of her modern takes on his work.Concordia’s…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

If you are at all like me, you have been itching to fire up the grill and get down to some outdoor cooking. If you and I are really alike, you probably almost always have a beer in one hand when there’s a grilling utensil in the…

What are essential oils anyway? Have you been hearing a lot about them, smelled them, and perhaps even purchased them but have no idea what they are or what they do?You are not alone. The essential oil industry is a booming one,…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

The North Dakota State Water Commission has violated state law more than 600 times in recent years by issuing permits for industrial use of water (read: fracking oil wells) from the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Employees…