Luke Percy, fiction
Why did you choose Alabama for your MFA? What were you doing before you came here?
I think the most honest answer here would be: Alabama chose me. As an international student who decided very late in the application season to pursue an MFA, I scattered my applications all over the board. Not only was UA the first school to get back to me (with an incredibly personal, welcoming email I might add), they offered the best deal. The funding was impossible to turn down, and so was the writing freedom I’d gain in a school as accepting as this one. The Montessori approach allows students to develop and hone their interests, free from judgment or interference, in an environment that truly supports individuality.
After I graduated in 2009, I spent a year and a half teaching English in South Korea. I spent the next year and a half backpacking through South America, reading, writing, working as a barman for a Scotsman in a Thai restaurant, caring for capuchin monkeys in an animal sanctuary. The MFA seemed like the perfect next adventure.
How have the courses, faculty, and resources here helped you define and carry out your projects?
I was a psychology major in undergrad. I didn’t take writing classes before I came here. So EVERYTHING was new to me. The fiction forms, the vocabulary, the unique workshop model fostered in Michael Martone’s hypoxic class [a fiction workshop]. And it was all fantastic. Peers have been nothing but supportive; teachers encouraging. The learning curve was crazy. I learned so much so quickly. I was allowed to explore my writing interests and writing styles and soon found projects that I cared about committing to.
Though this is a big program, and faculty members are busy people, they have made themselves available to me whenever I’ve requested. They’ve been kind, helpful, and friendly in a way only people living in South (so I’m told) know how to be.
How does getting an MFA degree fit into your goals for the future?
Well. I’d quite like to publish and be read by millions. A hunch: 4 years to practice my craft may go along way to helping that happen. But should I fail in this very realistic ambition—well how might a degree like this not be helpful to me in the future? Writing skills can be applied anywhere! Plus, the opportunities provided here look great on a CV. Just saying. Teaching college students? Teaching school kids? Teaching prisoners? Reading for a nationally reputable literary journal? Editing for that journal? This school is the bee’s pyjamas is basically what I’m saying.