By Suzanne Strempek Shea
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 share a moment together (and enjoy some of the Stone House’s delicious coffee!).
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.”
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” comes out from Da Cappo Press in February.
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 delivers a student commencement speech. Congrats, Andrea!
A view of the Stone House, a source of creative inspiration for students and faculty alike!
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.
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.
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