Vicki Madden (’16): A Migration to Writing

vickimadden2016With 25 years in the New York City public school system under her belt, Vicki Madden is shifting gears. “I didn’t start to write until I was 50,” she says. “You could say this was a classic mid-life thing,” she says laughing. “But I felt there was something missing.”

Then the unexpected happened. In September, 2014, The New York Times published her op-ed, “Why Poor Students Struggle,” and it became one of the most shared, emailed, and viewed pieces of the year. It was a huge vote of confidence. “It felt as if someone said, ‘Yes, you can keep writing!'” she says. “It just helped me refine my interest.”

Now in the middle of a low-residency MFA, Vicki is working on a memoir, tentatively titled, Found Wanting:  A Memoir of Migration and Desire — the story of her own migration from a working-class family in Washington State to a full-ride in the Ivy League. It addresses many of the same issues as her op-ed: class, shame, exile, and exchanging one’s old world for a new world.

Saltonstall is her first residency. “One of the things I’ve been able to do here is see my whole manuscript — all 150 pages,” she says. “When I’m only able to write on Saturdays, I can only zoom into a specific chapter. Here, I can go back to notebooks and pick out important details. It’s an incredible luxury to to be able to keep my focus on the material for so long.”