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The Residency Experience

Our MFA is flexible in requiring just one residency commitment a year: back-to-back weeks in July at the storied Fishtrap Gathering of Writers at Wallowa Lake near the artsy town of Joseph, and in nearby La Grande on EOU’s campus. These experiences offer distinct vibes under the same skies, separated by a scenic 1.5-hour drive around the Wallowa Mountains, known as the Little Alps of Oregon. Students may opt to attend just two summer residencies or they may attend a third on-campus week in a third summer and take slightly less distance-based coursework.

At Fishtrap, students enjoy a morning generative workshop with the conference’s world-class faculty (see the 2023 line-up) and gather in the evenings for faculty readings and open mics under the lakeside tent. There’s ample time for writing by the lake or taking trails into the Wallowas. For those unable to get away from home for two weeks, a virtual Fishtrap workshop option is also available (see the 2023 offering). Of course, we whole-heartedly encourage in-person attendance: this place, this community, is stunning.

In La Grande, on EOU’s view-filled campus, students take a morning craft class and an afternoon critique-based workshop with our award-winning MFA faculty and in the evenings attend La Grande Lit Week readings and conversations with more award-winning authors at downtown mainstays like our local brewery, coffeeshops, or a brick-lined music venue (Lit Week is open to the public and runs concurrently with the residency). In the afternoon, Lit Week visiting writers also teach 1-hr classes on special topics that are optional for students. During free hours, students write, hike or otherwise explore this outdoorsy area, watch a film, go bowling, and drink a lot of coffee. Meals and conversation late into the night inspire imaginative leaps and grow bonds between fellow students and faculty mentors.

Through the rest of the summer, students continue to work one-on-one at a distance with their EOU workshop instructor to push forward a project they started or shared during the on-campus week.

Rigorous coursework continues remotely during the academic year (see the full course of study). Our faculty work closely with students on their writing and provide instruction in contemporary literature, rhetoric, and special topics crafted to address student interests. We also provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning opportunities such as optional practicum classes in creative writing pedagogy, editing and publishing, and “professional portfolio,” in which students build professional materials specific to their long-term goals. Opportunities also exist to participate in the editing of our literary journal Oregon East and help with program communications and event planning, whether for credit or as a volunteer.