The Rewards of Mentoring

By Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Alumni BooksRecently, 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.

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You’ve Just Gotten Your MFA! So Now What?

Stonecoast MFA graduates, Summer '13. Photo by Helen Peppe (www.helenpeppephotography.com)

Stonecoast MFA graduates, Summer ’13. Photo by Helen Peppe (www.helenpeppephotography.com)

By Aaron Hamburger

Graduating with any degree can be a time of nervousness as well as excitement, but when your degree is in fine art, particularly the fine art of writing, sometimes nerves can outweigh the joy of accomplishment.

The summer after I finished graduate school, I sank into a deep self-questioning funk.  What did I do now?  Where could I turn for advice?  Who was going to hold me responsible for meeting my workshop/packet deadlines?

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Dispatch from a Residency, Winter 2014: Photo Essay

At the Stonecoast Faculty Blog, we’ve started a tradition of providing our readers with a window into the Stonecoast residency via photo essay.  Now that the 2014 winter residency has come to a close, we’d like to continue with the tradition of sharing snapshots of our 10 memorable days together in Maine. Enjoy!

(images courtesy of Helen Peppe Photography)

Students Daniel Ball and Kate Johnson

Students Daniel Ball and Kate Johnson share a moment together (and enjoy some of the Stone House’s delicious coffee!).

Faculty David Anthony Durham listening during a faculty presentation

Stonecoast Faculty David Anthony Durham listens during a faculty presentation.

Graduate Amin Es gives a presentation titled "The Translator: A Transformation of Poetry into an Autobiographical Graphic Novel" ..... "This talk is a conversation about how to connect the symbolic intricacies of Iran’s ancient poetry and its contemporary political atmosphere."

Graduate Amin Es gives a presentation titled “The Translator: A Transformation of Poetry into an Autobiographical Graphic Novel.”

Quenton Baker at Alumni Reading (photo by Helen Peppe)

Stonecoast alum Quenton Baker offers the community of friends, faculty, and former classmates his poetry during the alumni reading.

Alumna Helen Peppe signs books after the alumni reading. Helen's new book "Pigs Can't Swim" is out from Da Cappo Press in February

Alumna Helen Peppe signs books after the alumni reading. Helen’s new book “Pigs Can’t Swim” comes out from Da Cappo Press in February.

Faculty Elizabeth and Suzanne

Stonecoast Faculty and long-time friends Elizabeth Searle and Suzanne Strempek Shea stop for a moment to offer a smile for the camera!

Graduate Andrea Lani

Graduate Andrea Lani delivers a student commencement speech.  Congrats, Andrea!

Stonehouse

A view of the Stone House, a source of creative inspiration for students and faculty alike!

Beyond Words: Reading as Performance

By Elizabeth Searle

The readers for ‘Lost Lit Presents Stonecoast MFA in NYC’: Elizabeth Searle (in pink scarf); counterclockwise from Elizabeth: Bobbie Ford, Cristina Petrachio, Nora Grosvenor, Alexandria Delcourt, Kristabelle Munson, Lindsey Jacqueline, Richard Squires, Alexis Paige.

The readers for ‘Lost Lit Presents Stonecoast MFA in NYC’: Elizabeth Searle (in pink scarf); counterclockwise from Elizabeth: Bobbie Ford, Cristina Petrachio, Nora Grosvenor, Alexandria Delcourt, Kristabelle Munson, Lindsey Jacqueline, Richard Squires, Alexis Paige.

Backstage in Brooklyn at “Lost Lit Presents Stonecoast MFA in NYC”—a lively Nov. 2nd reading—one fellow reader asked us all, “Is anyone else here nervous?”

Among the all-star group of Stonecoast students who each performed their work with verve, no one could say, No.  The onstage energy crackled accordingly.  While it may take a toll, “performing” written works can be an exciting and enlightening experience for writers willing to give it their all.

Our next Stonecoast Northeast event is called “A Night at the Theater” and will feature a fusion of theater works and writers who “bring it” to the stage in reading performance.  The event takes place December 20th, in the Poet’s Theater series at the Armory Center for the Arts in Somerville MA. Stonecoast alumni, author, and Poet’s Theater curator Richard Cambridge will host.  Like me, Richard finds energy in combining the literary and the theatrical to try to create something new. Continue reading

Calling All Stonecoast Faculty Blog Readers: We Want to Hear From You!

Thank YouLast year, we gave thanks to the creative and engaging blog posts we’d received from Stonecoast MFA faculty across four genres: fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and popular fiction.  With the Stonecoast Faculty Blog already in its second year, we would like to again say thank you to faculty for their thoughtful and inspiring posts on topics such as the mentor-student relationship, the anxiety about being a real writer, tips for the mother-writer, writing about grief, and more.

So now it’s your turn to share your thoughts.  As readers of the Stonecoast Faculty blog, what are the topics you would like discussed?  What insights would you like to read about from faculty?  Are there any specific questions you would like to have answered?  Do you have thoughts on the posts we’ve shared thus far and/or direction for future posts?

In the comments below, please share your thoughts and opinions about anything and everything related to the Stonecoast Faculty Blog.  We look forward to hearing from you!

What My Mentor Taught Me

By James Patrick Kelly

Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, Clarion Conference 1974

Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, Clarion Conference 1974

Back when I was an aspiring writer, there were no MFA programs for the likes of me.   My ambition when I was starting out was to marry the literary values I had embraced as an undergraduate English major to the hurly-burly of widescreen ideas, surreal settings, and exotic characters that sprawled across the pages of the science fiction magazines that I loved.  Hardcore sf fans did not necessarily welcome me and my cohort of literature-loving newbies; they accused us of writing “li-fi” instead of “sci-fi.”  And did we get respect from mainstream gatekeepers of LiteratureLand for our attempts to remake the genre?  Fat chance.  Even today, the administrators of all too many writing programs continue to hold their noses at the mention of popular fiction, lest the aroma of art for commerce disturb their delicate sensibilities.

But let’s grind that ax another time, shall we?

The one and only writing program for young Jim Kelly was the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, then being held at the Michigan State University. In some ways, the Clarion experience was very much like that of the Stonecoast residencies, only more concentrated.  Over the course of six weeks in the summer, 18 of us gathered in a steamy MSU dorm to unpack our attempts at fiction in workshops led by a different professional science fiction writer each week.  The workshops were never the same because each mentor arrived with her own artistic ideas or his own hot button issues.  But the overall agenda was set by Damon Knight, who founded Clarion with his wife, Kate Wilhelm.  They believed that science fiction was as important as any other kind of writing, but it deserved to be better written than it was.

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Be Committed

By Jeanne Marie Beaumont

A final wave from my board as I await the “Dancers, put on your shoes” opening.

A final wave from my board as I await the “Dancers, put on your shoes” opening.

It may have been one of the craziest things I had ever done. The week before I was to leave for the Stonecoast summer residency, I enrolled myself in an intensive tap workshop, as part of Tap City, and I also signed on to perform Tap It Out in Times Square. I would be adding my two feet to the chorus of some 300 others in, as the press release states, “a pre-choreographed orchestral collage of a cappella unison rhythms, contrapuntal sequences, individual riffs, movements and grooves . . . that promotes tap dance as pure music.”

What that meant in terms of time was that I was signing up for more than 25 hours of tapping, including class, practices, rehearsals, and four performances, during the week of July 8th. My morning workshop class was with a teacher who has a reputation for toughness, one whom I had found demanding and a bit intimidating in the past. Yet I knew that she had a lot to teach me and that I had a lot to learn.

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