Last week I printed the Statement of Purpose I sent to MFA programs in 1998. Below is the one I sent in 1997. (I like the 1998 one better, I think…though among MFA program evaluators, both were greeted with equal indifference, as far as I could tell.)


Statement of Purpose

I plan to write poetry because I want my letters anthologized. “Dear Poetry, How are u? How is e? How are all the little words that rhyme with Christina Rossetti? I would very much like to be affecting, but today one must be ironic, and one must say one before two, though it’s two every one loves. ‘Aren’t those two cute together?’ And they are so much so it makes you cry and makes me want to dry heave and whine, ‘I want to make people cry, poor wretch, without the aid of my onion breath, and yet I’m too sophisticated for sentimental claptrapcrap (note the neologism.) If you can feel sorry for me just a little I’ll gladly grovel. I’m not proud.'”

At least I’m honest, though. Or at least I’d like to be thought honest. “Well, Mr. Thought Honest, you’re a hypocrite. But take solace in being a relatively small land mammal, unlike a hippopotamus.” These are complicated theses, Diogenes, and your kind attention makes me weak in the knees. Please! Explain my brain. We elucidate snide critiques of each other, that squooshy grey matter and I. It makes my head as heavy as lead, and I stagger about beneath it trying to keep body and skull together. Someday my scalp will open like a lid and the earth will open like a lid and I will fall from one into the other and everything will be simpler. “I have an M.A. in British History from the U of C. My influences include Marianne Moore, Stephen Crane, and the New York school poets. I have had poetry published in Sidewalks,Parting Gifts, and Pleiades, and a short story published in Fugue. Every morning before work for the past couple of years I’ve gotten up at 4:30 to write. Often, though, I just fall back asleep.”

Is that all right?