Stephen Dunn Applies to Graduate School
This is the letter written by Stephen Dunn to one of his teachers, Mr. Offit, at New School. In this letter, Stephen is asking Mr. Offit for a reference letter for graduate school application. At the time, Dunn was twenty-eight years old and as indicated in the letter, his decision to go to graduate school is a recent one. The overall tone of the letter is very humble and polite. He indicates his recent publication endeavors and his plans for his future. In addition, he indicates the schools he is interested in.
Mr Offit's reply is positive and much more enthusiastic. He calls Dunn's writing "elegant" and is happy to recommend him. In his reply, he indicates that Dunn will make an "excellent teacher." That is, of course, a very true statement as Dunn is well-liked among his students today.
Below is the transcribed version of this letter and the response:
Dear Mr. Offit;
I’m hoping you remember me. Over a year ago I took your Fiction Writing course at the New School for two semesters. My writing seemed to interest you, but of course these things are difficult to gauge. If it did, and you remember me, I would appreciate if you would give me a recommendation to Graduate School.
The decision to go to Graduate School to obtain a Creative Writing Masters degree is a late one for me. I‘m 28. Naturally, therefore, it is fairly well thought out and reflects a certain seriousness on my part. My wife and I have spent the past year living in Spain where I wrote poetry (mostly) as well as fiction. Recently, I’ve had two poems purchased by the Atlantic Monthly.
My ultimate aim is to teach. So far I’ve had a favorable interview at Brown and am in the process of filling out xx applications for Buffalo and Rochester as well. If you were to recommend me there is a two page form which you’d have to fill out. This I would send you. If you choose not to recommend me, of course I will understand. To simplify your reply please indicate your answer below. Thank you.
Remember Steve Dunn?
Of course. Elegant stylist.
Probably more poet! Than
novelist, My mind’s on
S D to be an excellent teacher,
note: Brave letter. This “kid” could go
all the way.