I wonder how many poet laureates of the United States never received their Master’s. I am sure I could find out somewhere but I am afraid I would be disheartened by the answers. It isn’t like I am ever going to be seeing that position in my lifetime but I am still curious with a shot of dread.
I suppose contests could be a way of going about moving up as a poet, or even the “right” publications but a lot of contests are run by universities that just happen to have MFA programs or editors who are often still favoring their schools. Am I saying these things are rigged? No, I’m not. There are a lot of places where only the work matters. A lot of people with an MFA do win awards but that could be because they are better due to their learning and commitment. Though I have had the privilege of seeing winning/losing entries in a few contests and I don’t nearly come up with the same winners as the judges do but people will just say it is subjective.
Professors and fellow students help with publication and job opportunities, that is true for any MFA. It must be wonderful but, at the same time, it kind of smacks of favoritism. Then again, what doesn’t these days?
Master’s holders say they are often looked at harder and longer when someone is deciding on their stuff because, after the degree, they are held to a higher standard. It could be true. I mean, editors sometimes peer down at me because I DON’T list a degree anywhere so the opposite has to be true. I just wish I knew which one of us was at more of a disadvantage.