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MFA in Creative Writing - Low Residency

Marjorie Sandor

Fiction, Nonfiction

Marjorie Sandor
  • Personal


Marjorie Sandor is the author of four books, most recently a memoir, The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction.  Her story collection, Portrait of my Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award in Fiction, and an earlier essay collection, The Night Gardener: A Search for Home won the 2000 Oregon Book Award for literary non-fiction.  Her essays and stories work have appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, AGNI, The Harvard Review, and Opera News, and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize and elsewhere.  She is the editor of a new anthology, The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (St. Martins Press, 2015).  She lives in Corvallis, Oregon where she is a member of the MFA faculty at Oregon State University.

Mentor. Workshops and classes in fiction and nonfiction.

Statement: “One day in college, my favorite teacher came to the limit of her patience with me. I had nearly suffocated a personal essay full of similes and metaphors and the word ‘I.’ She looked at my five drafts, handed them back and said, ‘You can do better than this. Just tell the truth.’ The simple rightness of this struck me like a blow to the head, and still does: it is a model of great teaching. Of course I still commit, on a daily basis, the sins of over-decorating, of willful obscurity and unmediated anger and blindness to irony, but I know, thanks to her, that there is another way. And I try to follow her example as a teacher, too. The Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg once said she wanted to be ‘the recording angel’ of her family. I like this idea, and even better, her example. Her sentences are laconic, unadorned, stripped down in language and tragic in historical context, but rich in compassion, humor, and irony. She regards her characters with an astonishing tenderness, from a little distance, as if she hovers just above the earth’s surface, still part of its atmosphere, but not confined by its petty passions. Another great writer, Nadine Gordimer, says you must write as if you were already dead. I almost know what she means, and I will spend the rest of my life reaching to accomplish it, if only in a single sentence that bears witness to the beautiful failures we are bound, by our humanness, to create. I read for it, write toward it, and teach with it always in mind.”