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The MFA Chronicles: Ucheoma Onwutuebe

The MFA Chronicles: Ucheoma Onwutuebe

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 week, we spoke with Ucheoma Onwutuebe.

image The MFA Chronicles: Ucheoma Onwutuebe

She is the recipient of the 2022 Waasnode Fiction Prize and has received residencies from Yaddo, Art Omi, and the Anderson Center. Her works have appeared/are forthcoming in Catapult, Bellevue Literary Review, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, Off Assignment, Bakwa Magazine and elsewhere. She is currently an MFA student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas

What motivated you to pursue an MFA?

I wanted to give my writing the best chance I could find. I was also tired of corporate life in Nigeria and needed a change. I had visited America for a residency and the ease I experienced convinced me that my writing would thrive better in a place of constant  electricity, where I didn’t need to pull my hair each time my laptop/phone batteries died. 

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

The selection was a gamble. I had applied the year before and got into non-funded programs. In the  second round, I looked at only fully funded programs. I got into two. I chose Vegas for the weather. Visa process would make you lose weight. 

How has the MFA program impacted your writing and creative process? 

It’s been great sitting in classrooms full of writers from different parts of the world. Also the school libraries are world class. I have easy access to books I’ve always wanted to read.

Who are you reading now? 

My classmates. I’d start reading books  again at the end of the semester. 

What are your writing goals? What are you working on now? 

Goal is to not be a hungry artist.  I’m working on a novel, essay and short story collections. 

What advice would you give to other Nigerian writers considering pursuing an MFA degree? 

Pray about it, if you believe in prayer. It’s a move that alters your life. I’m glad I did it. Nothing beats getting paid to study, nothing beats the experience of teaching college-level writing and composition. America, though it has its issues, is a generous country. Forget about twitter hot takes, your craft as a writer is a ticket that opens many doors for you and the MFA is one of such doors. 

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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