Marginalia, Graduate Blog

How a Poet Keeps Warm in Chicago

It's January. This view from the fifth floor of the library would certainly be desolate and gray right now (Photo by David Fairbanks)

It’s January. This view from the fifth floor of the library would certainly be desolate and gray right now (Photo: David Fairbanks)

Before classes even started last semester, my cohort and I met up with a few of the graduate poetry faculty to meet everyone and for them to answer any of our lingering questions. After Tony Trigilio described a particularly fierce storm that sent a tree limb or two crashing onto his car, he said something about the weather that I’ve repeated to visiting friends and people considering moving to Chicago: “It’s not small talk to discuss the weather in Chicago, it’s a survival mechanism.”

How a Poet Keeps Warm in Chicago

Before classes even started last semester, my cohort and I met up with a few of the graduate poetry faculty to meet everyone and for them to answer any of …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Importance of Things That Aren’t Poetry

Cartoonist Kevin Budnik reflects on the year gone by. I reflect a bit on why non-poetry media is necessary to me.

Cartoonist Kevin Budnik reflects on the year gone by. I reflect a bit on why non-poetry media is necessary to me.

Somewhere here on the Marginalia blog it tells you that I manage the Twitter account @PoetryMFA, and while I was scrolling through my feed on the train (as you do), I came upon a tweet saying that people who produce poetry should be reading more than they write. The tweet is lost to time (or my lack of a desire to go through my Twitter feed and find something from a week ago), but the idea stuck with me, as it’s one I only somewhat agree with.

The Importance of Things That Aren’t Poetry

Somewhere here on the Marginalia blog it tells you that I manage the Twitter account @PoetryMFA, and while I was scrolling through my feed on the train (as you do), …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

On the Importance of Friends

The Minds of Winter reading with Doe Parker (CCC 2018)

The Minds of Winter reading opened with Doe Parker (CCC 2018), photos by David Fairbanks

Do not trust anyone who tells you that graduate school is easy. There will be weeks where it’s exactly everything you want it to be educationally, artistically, and socially, but there are also weeks where you will likely doubt yourself as an artist, as a student, and as a human being. It can be tempting to think of the writer working in solitude toward their magnum opus, romanticizing the isolation and buying into the hype of what makes someone a true artist. After all, all a person technically needs is something to write with/on and time. But there are few remedies for those dark weeks than the company of friends, if only to hear them say that they are experiencing the same things.

On the Importance of Friends

Do not trust anyone who tells you that graduate school is easy. There will be weeks where it’s exactly everything you want it to be educationally, artistically, and socially, but …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

A Day in the Life

You know, that one band.

You know, that one band.

It’s that time of the semester, when prospective students are assembling their graduate school applications, wrangling their professors for letters of recommendation, and writing a different statement of purpose for each of their different schools, because the MFA application process can never be easy. It’s also when schools like Columbia host open houses to meet said prospective students.

A Day in the Life

It’s that time of the semester, when prospective students are assembling their graduate school applications, wrangling their professors for letters of recommendation, and writing a different statement of purpose for …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Juggling Responsibilities vs. Juggling Chainsaws

Tony Trigilio, David Fairbanks (me), John Gallaher, and Courtney Zellers (photo courtesy of Courtney Zellers)

Tony Trigilio, David Fairbanks (me), John Gallaher, and Courtney Zellers (photo courtesy of Courtney Zellers)

I’m going to let you in on a secret, a thing that accomplished writers probably aren’t supposed to let their readers know: the deadline for this blog snuck up on me. As the Graduate Ambassadors at Columbia College, we give you insights into grad school life in our program with a blog post every three weeks or so, which means they are scheduled out well in advance. I have a note on my calendar app reminding me when this post is due (and every post for the rest of the semester), but the last three weeks have been so busy that it snuck up on me. And that felt like the perfect topic for a blog post: juggling responsibilities.

Juggling Responsibilities vs. Juggling Chainsaws

I’m going to let you in on a secret, a thing that accomplished writers probably aren’t supposed to let their readers know: the deadline for this blog snuck up on …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

We’re All Mad Here

The Cheshire Cat - John Tenniel

The Cheshire Cat – John Tenniel

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

In my last blog post, I promised you an answer to one of the most important questions in the search for the right graduate program: why Columbia? But before I get there, I feel it’s important to say that I can’t answer it for you — everyone needs to do that on their own — but I hope the particulars of why I chose Columbia College Chicago for my Poetry MFA can give you an idea of what the school has to offer.

We’re All Mad Here

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’ ‘How do you …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Discovering a New Home in Chicago

Requisite photo of "The Bean," taken well after settling into the city. (Photo by David Fairbanks)

Requisite picture of “The Bean,” taken well after settling into the city. (Photo by David Fairbanks)

The idea of “home” is a bit strange. Most people eventually lose the home they grew up in, either literally or metaphorically, and spend part or even all of their adulthood looking for somewhere that is more than simply a place to store their things.

For me, I found home walking from Union Station to my first admitted students’ day at Columbia during an unusually brisk April just over two years ago, but I took a somewhat winding road to get to where I am now: a first-year candidate in the Poetry MFA Program at Columbia.

Discovering a New Home in Chicago

The idea of “home” is a bit strange. Most people eventually lose the home they grew up in, either literally or metaphorically, and spend part or even all of their …

Creative Writing – Poetry, MFA David Fairbanks, david.fairbanks@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Penultimate Post

bristol renaissance faire

Bristol Renaissance Faire

When I first arrived in Chicago two years ago my good friend and cohort member Ethan Chambers told me I should check out the Bristol Renaissance Fair. He said it would be the coolest thing I did while living in Chicago. Okay, he may not have said that exactly, and I may not have believed him. I’m from a small town where fairs are the common practice, but I never imagined a real life, fairy-tale village in the middle of a forest!

The Penultimate Post

When I first arrived in Chicago two years ago my good friend and cohort member Ethan Chambers told me I should check out the Bristol Renaissance Fair. He said it …

Creative Writing - Poetry MFA Justin Grogan, jgrogan@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Nine things to know before gradschool

Creating Art is my passion!

What I am up to! Okay, now seriously, the nine things to know or do!

I’ve recently been thinking about some of the things I wish I had done or known before coming to grad school, and so I’ve compiled some of my thoughts here for you. This is a list of 9, and I imagine there are still 91 other things I wish I had known!

Nine things to know before gradschool

I’ve recently been thinking about some of the things I wish I had done or known before coming to grad school, and so I’ve compiled some of my thoughts here …

Creative Writing - Poetry MFA Justin Grogan, jgrogan@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Middle of the Way

Sunset

It’s officially summer and the realization that I won’t be returning to classes in the fall is setting in. I am of course delighted and fueled with joy over taking the next steps in my life, however, there is a part of me that knows just how much I will miss seeing my fellow classmates and professors.

The Middle of the Way

It’s officially summer and the realization that I won’t be returning to classes in the fall is setting in. I am of course delighted and fueled with joy over taking …

Creative Writing - Poetry MFA Justin Grogan, jgrogan@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605