Graduate students in Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA program gave a creative writing workshop for residents of the Wonderfully Made shelter last week. It was the first collaboration between the Red Earth MFA and Wonderfully Made, but there are plans to make it an annual event.
The shelter, located in the northeast part of Oklahoma City, is a home for homeless women and their children.
Jeanetta Mish, Red Earth MFA interim director, said the purpose of the workshop was to help residents use creative writing as a means of self-expression and reflection.
“Some people find writing a therapeutic exercise, especially when life gets difficult,” Mish said. “We hope we can help the residents learn how to use writing as a creative outlet for expression of their lives and experiences and also as a way to improve writing skills that are necessary for everyday purposes such as job applications.”
The creative writing students who volunteered are participating in the Red Earth MFA pedagogy coursework. The students prepared for their visit by choosing their writing prompts and activities, and then took their projects to the Wonderfully Made shelter. While there, the students learned about the shelter and its various programs from its director, Lisa Baldwin Miller.
The creative writing students were divided into two teams — one to work with the children and the other with the adults. The program views these workshops as both training for its students in teaching writing and also as community service. Current plans are to include a community service workshop or event during most residency periods.
The Red Earth MFA is a low-residency, two-year degree program. It includes five residencies — one each summer and each winter plus another at the end of the program — for approximately 10 days each. Between residencies, students study long-distance with faculty members who are all practicing creative writers. For more information about the program call (405) 208-5127 or visit www.okcu.edu/english/redearthmfa.