The Twelve Week Curriculum
How does it work?
Next, you’ll complete an application.
Every writer can apply for free to be placed with a Mentor of their choice. These applications, completed in just a few minutes, will look to balance the needs of the writer’s accessibility and the program’s rigorous standards.
We are looking for writers to show us that they are serious about their craft and education, and earlier applications receive priority in decision making. Our four main criteria for identifying great writers for the program are: (in order of importance) Enthusiasm, Professionalism, Workshop Experience, and Craft Knowledge.
After selections, you’ll join your writing group.
Up to ten writers will be selected for each Mentor. You’ll spend the week before launch preparing for the program and meeting everyone in your group.
The Program Begins
TWO WEEKS OF DIRECT INSTRUCTION WITH YOUR MENTOR AND GROUP OF 5 OTHER WRITER- LEARNERS
EIGHT WEEKS OF 1-ON-1 MENTORSHIP WITH YOUR MENTOR AND SMALL GROUP WORKSHOPPING WITH YOUR WRITING GROUP
TWO WEEKS OF LITERARY CITIZENSHIP TRAINING AND READINGS BY STUDENTS AND FACULTY
The first two weeks
Your Mentor will lead the class through two weeks of rigorous direct instruction.
This will consist of two 3-hour live Zoom classes with the Mentor, online discussions with your cohort throughout the week, the generation of new material, and the reading and study of select craft materials on literary technique.
All weekend Zoom schedules will be defined by the writing groups themselves, in order to best fit into everyone’s busy life schedule.
The next eight weeks
After your Mentor gets to know each writer and their individual goals through the direct instruction period, they and every writer develop a plan for continued learning over the next eight weeks. This plan, the Learning Contract, may be a general goal of improving craft and ability, or it may include a direct thesis project the writer wishes to complete.
You’ll send the Mentor two packets of work over the two months, which they will respond to in writing. These packets will vary depending on your project plan but may contain: essays reflecting on assigned readings, new writing, edited writing, etc. This is where your learning really gets a committed and individualized follow through— key to any significant growth as a writer.
Concurrent with the mentoring, the PocketMFA team will also facilitate peer workshops for the writers. These workshop sessions will be intimate and rigorous discussions around original writing, learning texts, and more. The PocketMFA team utilizes a unique version of the Lerman Critical Response Process for our workshops.
The final two weeks
The last two weeks of the curriculum are separated from the first ten, happening in either the summer or winter exclusively. See our Annual Schedule below for the dates.
The Writing Life Residency will be a chance for the entire cohort, all genres and writers, to get together. To keep the events accessible, the residency will unfold over 8-9 nights, after USA working hours, on Zoom. Each night will consist of a mixture or learning activities, community building, and student and guest performances. Every student will have the chance to publicly read their work in front of their mentors, peers, friends, and family.
Some topics for the learning activities may include developing publication strategies, creating community outside of academia, getting an agent, building social presence, finding grants and residencies, freelance editorial work, hosting readings, & more.
Our Summer Writing Life Residency for 2023’s calendar included:
- Submitting to Magazines: Everything You Need to Know with Josh Roark
- A Conversation Around Sustainable Process with Ken Liu
- Reading Out Loud: Performance 101 with Faylita Hicks
- The Query Letter with Agent Malaga Baldi
- Generative Session: Prose Poetry with Jose Hernandez Diaz
- Generative Session: Revision with Editor Courtney Harler
- How to Research (and Know When to Stop) with Annia Ciezadlo
- Author Publicity Q&A with Morgan LaRocca, May Zhee Lim, and Zoe-Aline Howard
- How to Get Involved in Publishing with Josh Roark, JP Dancing Bear, Jenny Molberg, and Courtney Harler
- The Spirit of Creative Writing with Carmen Acevedo Butcher
- Goal Setting for Writers with Racquel Henry
- Public Reading with Eva, Blake, and CJ
- Public Reading with Janelle, Malissa, Felicia, and Jose
- Public Reading with Fran, Kristi, Nick, Shelby, Timothy, and Mickie
- Public Reading with Hal, Jordan, Heather, and Jose
- Public Reading with Amy, Jordan, and Wanying
January 15 – March 31
April 15 – June 30
July Residency exclusive to Winter & Spring Cohorts
July 1 – September 15
September 15 – November 30
January Residency exclusive to Summer and Fall Cohorts
Every Writer at Pocket MFA commits to at least ten hours per week of learning: reading, writing, and group discussion. They will complete an individualized project plan that will move their writing career forward, engage with a personal mentor who will push them further as a writer with a unique voice, be considered for Advanced Standing enrollment with our partner MFA programs, leave with a clear and actionable plan to progress their careers as writers, and get the opportunity to work with our partner literary orgs to establish editorial work on their resume.