Boston University Creative Writing Mfa

I interviewed hundreds of people, twenty-five minutes or at length (for over a month or more). It was hard to do that, but Sloane, Maggie, and Lina were the most comfortable with my presence in their lives at length and across poignant moments.

They let me into their minds ten times more than the next person.

This week, we’re excited to feature Jean Charbonneau, an alumnus of our program from 1998!

Jean was born in Montreal, and studied creative writing at Harvard Extension School and the University of Southern Mississippi before getting his MA in creative writing from BU.

How did you find the women you interviewed, and how did you decide on these three in particular? I would go to bars and restaurants and corner stores and talk to people, trying to find the person who would be THE person.

I moved to several of the towns of both the women in the book and others who didn’t make it into the book.

Reading and writing fiction (under the wonderful tutelage of Leslie Epstein and Ha Jin) helped me to consider language more in my nonfiction. Lisa Taddeo is a journalist who has contributed to I usually avoid thinking about writing in terms of catharsis, but working on this really did help me to resolve some things.

I never like to read nonfiction written in staid manners, and so it was beyond helpful to be in BU’s amazing fiction program while I wrote what would become my first novel (out next summer) and my collection of stories and finishing this book, which I don’t think would have been the same without BU. It has a lot of parts to it, and I kept thinking I needed to take one thing or another out, but in the end it didn’t work without everything–all the complications.

The MFA in Creative Writing prepares writers to teach and to become better critics of their work and others’.

The program attempts to make students scholars of literature—that is, aware of those upon whose shoulders they stand.


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