A building at Bennington College that inspired Shirley Jacksons most famous novel.
This building on Bennington's campus inspired Shirley Jackson's most famous novel. (Tickets for tonight's party are here). Photo by Christopher Frizzelle

It's Wednesday, which means the Silent Reading Party is tonight at 6 pm PST. If you have never heard of this party, start here. If you want to see what others have said about the party, see here and here and here.


The sponsor of tonight's party is the graduate creative writing program at Bennington College, the same campus that Donna Tartt used as the basis for the college in her masterful novel The Secret History. Bennington is also where I got my MFA.

Current creative writing students in the program will be guests at tonight's party.

Bennington Writing Seminars, the graduate creative writing program at Bennington College, is the sponsor of tonights party.
I got my MFA at Bennington, and the experience changed my life. Christopher Frizzelle

A lot of people are curious about getting their MFA in creative writing, but they have a job, they have kids—there's no way they can move to Vermont. That's one of the great things about Bennington Writing Seminars: You do it from afar.

It's a low-residency program, which means it's basically a two-year correspondence course, with only two visits to Vermont per year, in January and June, for 10 days each; the rest of the year, you work from home. Right now, during social-distancing, even those 10-day residences are being done from home, via Zoom, and students in the June residency, which is taking place this week, will be at tonight's party.

Another great thing about this MFA program? You do not have to have an undergraduate degree to apply or be accepted. You just have to know how to write. I do not have an undergraduate degree, but thanks to Bennington, I do now have a master's degree.

Students are required to read five books a month, but they can choose whichever books they want. During my time in the program, I read Dante's Inferno, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Claudia Rankine's Citizen—all of which permanently rearranged my imagination.

Applications for the upcoming January term are due on September 1.

Ill be reading this biography of James Baldwin tonight. And you? What will you be reading?
I'll be reading this biography of James Baldwin tonight. And you? What will you be reading? Christopher Frizzelle

Speaking of Giovanni's Room: We are announcing today that it will be the next selection of the Quarantine Book Club, beginning on Saturday, June 27. Sign up here.

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As for the reading party: Did you see this message this morning from the very first musician at the reading party, Kyle O'Quin? It's very relaxing and worth your time.

The party's current musician, reigning champion of the piano Paul Matthew Moore, will be playing tonight, starting at 6 pm PST.

You're invited. See you there!

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