By Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Recently, a former Stonecoast mentee contacted me with welcome news. Her book was approaching its publication date, and she wanted my address so the publisher could send me a complimentary copy. Last week, I headed to a café uptown to hear another former Stonecoast mentee give a reading from her fresh-off-the-press poetry collection. I had been lucky to work with both of these talented poets on their MFA theses, which they developed into the books now moving out into the world. I confess to beaming like a proud godparent.
This is not an isolated coincidence. Several times over the past seven years I have had the pleasure of receiving similar good news from Stonecoast alumni. I am always thrilled to open an email from a past mentee that begins “I just heard some great news, my book… or my poem…” In some cases I am being asked for, and will happily provide “advance praise” aka a blurb, for the book. In any case, I am always glad to be kept in the loop as alumni make their way in the world of letters.
It seems important to note that the publication of my former mentees’ books did not happen because we spent our semesters of work together plotting a route to publishing or discussing where to submit manuscripts. It happened because we made the bettering of the writing itself our priority. These students worked with intensity, patience, and determination to bring their work through repeated critical scrutiny and revisions. They had high ambitions for their poems, not only for themselves. And when they graduated they took full responsibility for their writing, taking the time to continue to improve it and figuring out how to get it into the world. I, their instructor, learned much from working with them as well, taking sustenance from their dedication, and that is one of the rewards of mentoring.
As someone with a collector’s bent and a love of lists, as well as a sense of responsibility to institutional history, I began last year to compile a list of all the poetry books published by Stonecoast poetry graduates (see below). The list, which now includes over 40 books and chapbooks, remains a joyfully expanding “work in process” not only because I may have missed a few titles, but because Stonecoast graduates continue to publish at an impressive clip.
And it is not only by book publication that Stonecoast alums are making their places in the literary world. Others are editing presses and magazines, teaching, performing, collaborating with other artists, founding literary cooperatives, starting writing workshops, retreats, and conferences, and in at least one case, serving as poet laureate for their city. Stonecoast can provide support, inspiration, and encouragement, but then it is up to the graduates to leap off the springboard into an engaged and dedicated literary life. It’s exciting, and, yes, rewarding to watch them.
The one-to-one mentoring model of the low-residency MFA program allows for development of close bonds and long-lasting affinities. I encourage past students who live at a distance to keep in touch through correspondence; those close by are met for coffee and updates, or we see each other at various events. I have had the pleasure of teaching alongside alums, had them as editors, and have been hired by them to judge contests. We have met for meals at AWP conferences and have attended each other’s readings. Once, introducing a graduating student reading, Richard Hoffman made the statement that it is our goal as teachers in an MFA program to turn our students into our colleagues. That is what has indeed happened over and over, and it is one of the best rewards of mentoring.
Jeanne Marie Beaumont’s first book of poetry, Placebo Effects, won the National Poetry Series. She has published two subsequent books with BOA Editions, Curious Conduct and Burning of the Three Fires. She co-edited American Letters & Commentary for seven years and also co-edited The Poets’ Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales.
Poetry Book Publications (and related prizes) by Stonecoast Poetry Alums*
Jessica Bane (S ’07), Scarred Seasons, Finishing Line Press, 2009 (chapbook).
Carol Berg (W ’09), Ophelia Unraveling, Dancing Girl Press, 2012 (chapbook).
—. Her Vena Amoris. Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013.
—. The Ornithologist Poems. Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2014 (chapbook).
Katherine (Katie) Bickham (S ’13), The Belle Mar. Winner of the Lena-Miles Weaver Todd Competition, forthcoming April 2015 through Pleiades and LSU Press.
Marcia F. Brown (S ‘04), The Way Women Walk, Sheltering Pines Press, 2005 (winner of the press’s chapbook contest).
—. What on Earth, Moon Pie Press, 2010 (chapbook).
Ruth Foley (S ’07), Dear Turquoise, Dancing Girl Press, 2013 (chapbook).
Cindy Williams Gutiérrez (W ’08), The small claim of bones, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Arizona State University), 2014.
Lexa Hillyer (S ’10), Acquainted with the Cold, Bona Fide Books, 2012 as winner of the 2011 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Award in Poetry.
Lissa Kiernan (S ’11), Two Faint Lines in the Violet, Negative Capability Press, 2014.
Alan King (W ’13), DRIFT, Willow Books/Aquarius Press, 2012.
Kristin LaTour (S ’07), What Will Keep Me Alive, Sundress Publications, forthcoming 2015.
—. Agoraphobia, Dancing Girl Press, 2013 (chapbook).
—. Blood, Naked Mannekin Press, 2009 (chapbook).
—. Town Limits: Red Beaver Lake, Minnesota, Pudding House Press, 2007 (chapbook).
Michelle Lewis (S ’04), The Desire Line, Moon Pie Press, 2006 (chapbook).
Susan Lilley (S ’08), Satellite Beach, Finishing Line Press, 2012 (chapbook).
Peter Manuel, (!!) Exclamations (!!), Sheltering Pines Press, 2005 (chapbook).
Florine Melnyk (W ’09), Suspended Imagination, BlazeVOX books, 2010.
Robin Merrill (W ’06), A House of Bottles, Moon Pie Press, 2009, (chapbook).
—. Laundry and Stories, Moon Pie Press, 2005 (chapbook).
dg nanouk okpik (W ’10), Corpse Whale, University of Arizona Press, 2012.
Anne Britting Oleson (W ’05), The Church of St. Materiana, Moon Pie Press, 2007 (chapbook).
—. The Beauty of It, Sheltering Pines Press, 2010, (2nd place winner, chapbook contest).
Alexandra Oliver (W ’12), Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway, Biblioasis, 2013.
Lisa Panepinto (W ’13), on this borrowed bike, Three Rooms Press, 2014.
Steve Rhodes (W ’11), The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next, Wind 2008.
—. What Might Not Be, Wind Publications, 2014.
Teresa Scollon (W ’08), To Embroider the Ground with Prayer, Wayne State University Press, 2012.
—. Friday Nights the Whole Town Goes to the Basketball Game. Michigan Writers Cooperative Press, 2009 (Winner of the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press chapbook contest).
Karen Kowalski Singer (W ’09), Field Guide to Hidden Things, Green Fuse Press, 2012 (chapbook contest winner chosen by Robert King).
David Sloan (W ’09), The Irresistible In-Between, Deerbrook Editions, 2012.
Patricia Smith (S ’08), Blood Dazzler, Coffee House Press, 2008. National Book Award Nominee.
—. Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, Coffee House Press, 2012. Winner, Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.
Joanna Solfrian (S ’04), Visible Heavens, published in 2010 by The Kent State University Press as winner of the 2009 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye.
David Stankiewicz (S ’05), My First Beatrice, Moon Pie Press, 2013.
Lisa C. Taylor (S ’04), Necessary Silence, Arlen House/Syracuse U Pr, 2013.
—. Insufficient Thanks, Finishing Line Press, 2012 (chapbook).
—. The Other Side of Longing, collaboration with Geraldine Mills, Arlen House/Syracuse U Pr, 2011.
—. Talking to Trees, Finishing Line Press, 2007 (chapbook).
Christopher Watkins (W ’08), Short Houses with Wide Porches, Shady Lane Press, 2008.
*This list contains only titles of books published post-graduation or while in the program. Several of the alums came into the program having already published books. This list is a work in progress, as there may be publications I have not yet been informed about. Please notify firstname.lastname@example.org with additions or corrections to this list.