A Kiln That Desires to Leave No Brick Half Baked

Many of you know of my connection to New St. Andrews College, but a number of you may not know about one of the more exciting projects under the aegis of NSA that I am involved with — which is to say, the Camperdown Writers’ Kiln. This is the name of the MFA program that we have been offering for the last two years.

We are interested in shaping writers, who in turn will be able to shape words in a way that will shape the lives of readers. Our qualifications to undertake this arduous task can be seen in the logo I have posted below. I am, of course, drawing your attention to the fact that the apostrophe is in exactly the right place.

Two questions may have occurred to you. First, what on earth does Camperdown mean? Well, if you had gone to the web site like you were supposed to earlier, and as I distinctly encouraged you to do, you would already have your answer. As it is, I will simply tell you here that the name comes from a Camperdown Elm tree in Scotland, which is the ancestor of all the Camperdown Elm trees in the world. That original tree is sui generis, one of a kind.

The second question has to do with what we are trying to accomplish with this program. Well, here it is:

We want our graduates to publish and create professionally. This is not a degree to create teachers, as much as we love them. Our goal is for every successful MFA candidate to leave the program ready to pursue publication. The entire program is focused on that end goal and our faculty will do everything in their power to make it possible.

But we are trying to do this without manipulative and unrealistic promises. We don’t want to cash in on the deep desire that too many people have to “become writers,” like a host of fifth grade boys who want to play in the NBA. Too many MFA programs are appealing to such an unrealistic desire, and the end result is that they wind up taking quite a bit of money from people under false pretenses. No program can put in what God left out, and so as a consequence this program is deliberately small and deliberately selective.

So if you are a competent wordsmith already, if you have reasonably-grounded goals for publication, if you write for the same reason that dogs bark, and you want to spend some time in a refining fire, this program may be for you, and we would like to encourage you to apply.