by Elizabeth Searle
“An exciting event for anyone interested in literature.” This is how star Stonecoast alum Erin Underwood describes Stonecoast’s upcoming Boston Public Library reading at the 2013 AWP Writer’s Conference. Erin’s words also serve as a fitting description of the Association of Writers & Writing Conferences (AWP) event itself, an epic conference in which more than 10,000 writers, readers, and publishers converge to celebrate and discuss literature as well as share new works and ideas, all while mixing and mingling.
At this year’s AWP gathering, Stonecoast MFA will play a prominent role. As one of the event’s sponsoring programs, Stonecoast and its faculty, alums, and students will be out in full force. A complete listing of Stonecoaster activities is available on the Stonecoast website. Check the official AWP schedule for countless appearances and signings by Stonecoast writers.
For a quick overview, here are three events Stonecoast friends and followers will not want to miss.
- At the legendary Boston Public Library on Thursday, March 7th from 6:00–8:00 pm, the Stonecoast Community Reading will feature brief readings by a dynamic combination of Stonecoast faculty (Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Jaed Coffin, Aaron Hamburger, Suzanne Strempek Shea, and Sholeh Wolpe), alums who have recently published books (Anthony D’Aries, Lexa Hillyer, Sandra McDonald, and Thomas McDonald), plus one current student (poetry and performance star, Lady Zen).
“We’re looking forward to seeing all of our community members and friends there,” says Erin Underwood, who helped put together the event, which is open to the public.
- On Friday, March 8th from 3:00–4:15 pm in Room 203 at the Hynes Convention Center, Stonecoast’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Reading will mark a decade of Stonecoast’s MFA program. The event features Stonecoast faculty members David Anthony Durham, Barbara Hurd, David Mura, and 2012 National Book Award nominee Tim Siebles, all led by poet and Stonecoast MFA Director Annie Finch.
“The Stonecoast Anniversary Reading is a special panel sponsored by AWP that will highlight the diversity and range of Stonecoast faculty in four genres,” says Annie, who will moderate the panel. She will open with some brief remarks about the writers on the Stonecoast faculty, and then ask each faculty member to “talk for a moment about how teaching at Stonecoast has affected them as writers before sharing their work.”
- Finally, for a walk on the wild side, Saturday night from 9:00–12:00 am in Suite 2039 of the AWP’s Sheraton Hotel, Stonecoast students and alums all have a chance to read and to party to the music of “dj jh” at Altered Egos: Stonecoast MFA Masquerade & Open Mic.
I am happy to be co-hosting this event with alum and author Mihku Paul, who designed our flyer and will be our MC and lead-off reader. We invite all Stonecoast alums and students to come ready to party and, if you choose, to read for 3–5 minutes. Feel free to come “as yourself”—or to dress up as your favorite literary character or “literary persona.”
Amidst all the AWP madness, be sure to stop by at the Stonecoast AWP “hub,” Booth #507, where you can hang out anytime, meet faculty and alums signing their books, and eat the famous “Stone Candy” that (as Stonecoast alum Libby Cudmore joked) will turn to chocolate in your mouth “if you are a real writer.”
Perhaps Mihku Paul best summed up the feelings of many authors aiming to attend AWP, when she said in a recent email regarding the upcoming festivities: “I am SO ready to get out and have some fun.”
Elizabeth Searle is the author of four books of fiction, most recently Girl Held in Home (2011). She is also librettist and creator of Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera (produced in Boston in 2011), a show that’s drawn national media attention. She has taught at Stonecoast for 10 years.