NJCU Memoirist Accepted into Prestigious MFA Program

NJCU Memoirist Accepted into Prestigious MFA Program

Natasha Persaud ’15 has a unique story to tell—and, this coming fall, CUNY Hunter College will help her tell it. Recently accepted into Hunter’s prestigious MFA Creative Writing Program, Persaud plans to use her time at the college to complete her passion project, a memoir titled The Dirt from the Yard.

As a child, Persaud was raised by her grandmother in a tumbledown tenement house in Guyana. Amenities were few, but the place did have its upsides; Persaud was surrounded by love, friends, and the beauty of nature.

As for her parents, Persaud didn’t know them—except as an occasional voice on the end of a long distance telephone call. Her mother and father left Persaud behind when she was an infant in order to find a life in the U.S.

Once her parents felt they were settled—nearly eight years later—they sent for her. Persaud made the trip north when she was nine years old. It was quite a culture shock. In the span of a five-hour plane ride, Natasha traveled from summer to winter; a green forest to a grey city; open spaces to stifling crowds; and an indulgent grandma to a pair of strict parents she didn’t recognize.

“I have always written,” Persaud says. “I don’t remember a time when I was not writing. This was especially true when I came to America. Writing was a way to help me cope; it was a way for me to deal with things that I didn’t really understand.”

Persaud was encouraged to apply to NJCU by her boyfriend. Once in the University’s Journalism Program, she found a place of comfort and support. Persaud was encouraged by NJCU faculty to “get out there.” “They really helped me,” she asserts.

Professor of English Edvige Giunta in particular, encouraged Persaud to send out her work, read it in front of audiences and, most importantly, to develop her writing.

“When I enrolled in a Memoir class at NJCU with Professor Giunta, I told her I had a story to write,” she recalls. “Under her guidance, I learned about the work writers do, learned to hone my craft, to work the words, and to deconstruct a piece of literature to meet the writer, not just the narrator.”

Persaud is eager to develop these skills further in pursuit of her MFA.