Stonecoast at #AWP15

Are your bags packed? Have you gotten dizzy looking at the conference schedule yet? We are just days away from the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference in Minneapolis and the Stonecoast MFA Program will be there!

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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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Whatever We’re Making, We’re All Sailing in the Same Boat

By Suzanne Strempek Shea

Suzanne Stempek Shea with readers at a recent event.

Suzanne Stempek Shea with readers at a recent event.

My home in the Western Massachusetts valley is rich with writers living and dead. I regularly park my car at the meter below Emily Dickinson’s bedroom window. Errands and events take me past the Eric Carle museum, and also the house that belonged to one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The only positive aspect of going to an oral surgeon during childhood was that his office was on the same street where Dr. Seuss grew up. Opening the door to a local bookstore, I once nearly smashed into the poet James Tate and a group of his students. Recently waiting to pay for a futon cover at a furniture store, I found Jonathan Harr in line front of me in line.

Around here it’s hard to swing a laptop without whacking into any local ink-stained wretches – or successes including enough whose mantels heft Pulitzers or Caldecotts or National Book Awards. So it would be natural to think we scribes of all sorts socialize, that we attend a writers’ club much like the Elks or the Moose or the AMVETS clubs that dot the landscape. But there isn’t one. Or maybe they’re just not telling me about it.

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Why Blogging Is Good for You


image courtesy of HubSpot, Inc.

By Nancy Holder

There is a secret at the end of this blog post.

Over the years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve found that the most difficult skill for most students to develop is revising.  Revision means to take what you’ve got, give it a long, hard look, and then to see it a different way—to re-envision it.

This is not the same as editing your work. That means to make changes to what’s already on the page. Shifting the point of view from first to third is an editorial change. Rewriting the material so that the protagonist becomes a secondary character and the antagonist becomes the protagonist is a revision.

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

Stonecoast MFA graduates, Summer '13. Photo by Helen Peppe (

Stonecoast MFA graduates, Summer ’13. Photo by Helen Peppe (

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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Lost in Transcription

By Jaed Coffin

In my line of work, I spend a lot of time talking to people. A few weeks ago, I spent a day with a guy who restores BSA M20 vintage motorcycles in his garage. Last Monday, I rode a snowmobile for about 200 miles along the Canadian border with a hardcore libertarian bear hunting guide. Earlier in the winter, I spent several afternoons in an old church in Portland, talking to Reverend Jeanette Good about the role of faith in the least religious state in America (Maine).

The most interesting interview of the year: speaking Spanish with a Cuban man who makes transatlantic voyages on 600 ft. barges loaded down with shipping containers full of pregnant cows. He’d been up since 3am, had just flown in from Turkey the night before. We drank coffee, in a diner, in the easternmost town in America. In his former life, he told me that he’d been a “doctor pediatrico.” I mean, you just can’t make this shit up.

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Roundup: Faculty Writing on the Web in 2013

As we wrap up 2013 on the Stonecoast Faculty Blog, we thought it might be interesting for our readers to see where else Stonecoast has appeared on the web throughout the year.  The following is a sample of Stonecoast faculty essays, articles, and reviews that have been published this year.  Enjoy and we look forward to seeing you in 2014!

Faculty member James Patrick Kelly often writes for Asimovs and in 2013 essays included “Economics 101,” “Both Sides of the Desk,” and “On More Editing and Writing.

Faculty member Aaron Hamburger published an article in Poets and Writers Magazine about food writing and fiction.

Faculty member Susan Conley wrote an essay for the New York Times’ Modern Love column. 

Faculty member Jaed Coffin’s essay “Justin Timberlake and the Whoever of Whatever” was featured both in Nautilus and Jezebel in September.

In December, faculty member Elizabeth Hand reviewed American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon for the Boston Review.