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The MFA Chronicles: Chukwudaru Michael

The MFA Chronicles: Chukwudaru Michael

The MFA Chronicles blog series offers perspective on the experiences of Nigerian writers who are currently on MFA programs, shedding light on the challenges and rewards of such a journey. 

Nigerian writers who aspire to pursue their writing dreams can gain valuable insight into the application process, program selection, cultural and language barriers, and how to overcome them.

This month, we spoke with Chukwudaru Michael.

image The MFA Chronicles: Chukwudaru Michael

Nigerian writer exploring life through fractured lenses, Chukwudaru Michael pushes the boundaries of learned ideologies while reconstructing reality with her treatment of text on a technical level. Using elements of African rituals and incantations, she invites the reader to play in a world that encourages all the fluidity of selves.

What motivated you to pursue an MFA?

I have always loved writing, yet it often felt as though an essential component was absent. I aspired to discover that missing element within the structured environment of academia and through engaging dialogues with fellow writers who share the same fervent passion for the written word.

How did you select the program you attended and what was the most challenging aspect of the application process?

I researched the top writing programs in the United States and applied to a number of them. The most challenging part of the application process was crafting my Statement of Purpose. For months, I wrote, edited, rewrote, and re-edited, with some assistance from friends. Despite my efforts, it still felt awkward and unsatisfactory. Then, one morning, just a week before the deadlines, I woke up, grabbed my computer, started a new document, and wrote the Statement that ultimately secured my acceptance into two programs.

What were the most significant lessons or insights you gained during the program that continue to influence your writing today? 

I invest a great deal of responsibility and tenderness into my writing. The program illuminated aspects of myself I had not fully recognized. This self-awareness was essential, as it deeply informs my work. I possess a fluidity that resists being confined to one place, yet there is a steadfastness in my writing that defies the mainstream and exists on its own terms. This makes it incredibly precious to me.

Who are you reading now?  

I am always reading Helen Oyeyemi. I am also currently reading Chinua Achebe’s “Arrow of God”. Can you tell I am homesick? Haha.

Since completing your MFA, have you pursued any publishing opportunities or writing projects that you’re especially proud of, and how did your MFA experience contribute to your success in those endeavors?

Although I haven’t been submitting or publishing during my MFA, I have been deeply involved in multiple writing projects that I’m very proud of. My MFA education has played a crucial role in sharpening my skills, connecting me with a supportive community of writers, and giving me the discipline and confidence to take on challenging projects. The workshops and feedback I received during my MFA have been extremely valuable in shaping my current work, and I believe that these projects will eventually lead to successful publishing opportunities when they are ready. I just turned in my thesis. As much as I am excited with it, there is still so much to be done and I want to do it.

In the context of the evolving literary landscape, particularly in Nigeria, how do you see the role of MFA programs changing or adapting to better support emerging writers, and what improvements would you suggest for future MFA candidates?

Given the changing literary scene in Nigeria, it is important for MFA programs to evolve in order to better support up-and-coming writers. This can be achieved by integrating local perspectives with global traditions, placing emphasis on digital literacy and publishing skills, facilitating networking opportunities with established authors, championing diversity and inclusion, and encouraging interdisciplinary approaches. Aspiring MFA candidates should consider programs that prioritize both literary craftsmanship and practical abilities, appreciate diverse voices, and provide avenues to connect with the wider literary community. This will help writers effectively navigate the dynamic and competitive landscape of contemporary literature.

Interested in sharing your MFA experience with us? Please fill out the form here.

About the Writer: Precious Obiabunmo is a graduate of English and Literature at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She’s the Digital Content/Community Manager at Kachifo Limited. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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