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If winning a Pulitzer Prize seems too big a hurdle, one can aim for marrying a Pulitzer Prize winner. Apparently that works just as well.

Or one can someone who looks destined to win one -- but that feels like a risky move. The only thing worse than being married to a big prize winner must be being married to someone who has been denied a big prize.

Given Rachel Donadio’s choice of words, it isn’t surprising that you drew a negative conclusion about the admissions process at MacDowell. In truth, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon applied for residency each year that they’ve come to MacDowell. Their applications were reviewed by the same peer panel that reads every literary application at MacDowell. Perhaps Ms. Donadio meant that Chabon and Waldman were taking turns staying at home to parent their four children. Regardless, it seems important that artists not be discouraged by misinformation.

While it’s true that MacDowell is competitive (about 250 residencies vs. 1700 applicants in 2004), the sole criterion for acceptance is talent as demonstrated in the work sample, the critical element in the application. Contrary to the essay’s implication, MacDowell is not entirely populated by famous writers. MacDowell serves emerging and established artists; the average age of all artists who came to MacDowell last year is about 40 years. Anyone may apply in one of seven artistic disciplines: literature (poetry and prose), theater arts (playwrights and librettists), visual arts, music composition, interdisciplinary arts, film/video and architecture. The two-page application is available at www.macdowellcolony.org. Financial aid, based on need, is available to offset the cost of travel to and from New Hampshire.

I'm glad that you flagged the Alliance of Artists Communities at the top of your post--the AAC is a terrific information clearinghouse for artists interested in residency programs. The Alliance’s annual conference will come to Pittsburgh this November, hosted by the Studio for Creative Inquiry at CMU. Artists are invited to come to two panel meetings (free) on Saturday, November 11th; details are available at the AAC web site.

David Macy
Resident Director
The MacDowell Colony

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