May 21, 2003
Molly Albracht won't be the only member of her family receiving a master of arts degrees in creative writing this week. Thanks in large part to her encouragement, her father David Albracht will receive the same degree.
"You tend to think it's a father being the mentor of his children, but Molly has been the mentor for me throughout this entire program," said David, 54, a Sebastopol resident. "She's just been keeping me going and she's definitely been an inspiration. I wouldn't be writing any poetry if it weren't for her."
Molly, 32, also a Sebastopol resident, fell in love with reading at age 4, after her father "had me march around the kitchen memorizing words on flash cards," she said. By the fourth grade, she was reading Franz Kafka and "War and Peace."
About five years ago, Molly encouraged her father -- a tile-setting contractor by day -- to join her writing group and overcome his shyness through poetry.
After David nurtured his talent in several extension classes at Sonoma State, Molly encouraged him to join her in applying for the master of arts program in creative writing at SFSU for fall 2000. They both were among the 10 percent of applicants accepted into the prestigious and highly competitive program, for which they were required to submit 15 to 20 original poems.
David's mother, Mary Albracht, is a key inspiration for both of them. Mary, who grew up in the Great Depression and raised six children, wrote beautiful poems and was an avid reader despite having a sixth-grade education. Mary kept her poetic talent to herself until she gave a collection, a worn spiral notebook with about 18 poems, to Molly as a graduation gift in 1996 when she recieved a bachelor's degree from Sonoma State University.
Ever since Molly and David began attending SFSU together, the Los Angeles natives have continued to support each other in classes, writing and life in general. They have developed a close friendship that most parents and grown children can only dream of -- taking classes together, carpooling to campus, providing feedback on each other's poems, and enjoying an occasional beer together on campus.
Creative writing students and faculty have enjoyed their presence in class.
"I think that both are remarkable in being so able to be open around each other and not display a competitive nature," said Maxine Chernoff, chair of the Creative Writing Department. "Seeing their relationship in the class, their respect for each other, for instance, was very instructive for the other students about the issue of trust."
This fall, David and Molly will return to campus to pursue master of fine arts degrees -- the highest degree possible in the field of creative writing. Molly is determined to write and teach poetry in any capacity. David hopes to travel and write a poetry cookbook with his wife, a pastry chef at an Anderson Valley casino.
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