The past few weeks, I have been wrestling with an important decision: whether to focus on creative nonfiction or poetry for my graduate work. In nearly all writing MFA programs, a student must choose well in advance–during the application process–what their focus will be. I have been thinking long and hard, and realizing that creative nonfiction is likely the best choice for me.
Creative nonfiction is not as common in writing programs as fiction or poetry. When I add in my strong desire to incorporate playwriting into my studies, then the list shrinks even further. Right now, I have eight schools on my list that fit those priorities, and that are also in locations in which I could reasonably live. Climate (for health reasons) and city size (for logistics) are my primary considerations for livability.
The trouble that I am running into as I develop my writing is knowing what should go into an MFA application portfolio for creative nonfiction. I have to assume it is more than just memoir. I assume that personal essays fit the bill, though I have not done much along those lines. Does literary critique–or any other sort of critique–work for the portfolio? Are there any other subgenres that I’m just flaking on?
If anyone has advice on this subject, I would greatly appreciate it.