Tuesday, August 31, 2010



For Release: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Contact: Tanya Whiton, whitontanya@pmc.edu


The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing of Pine Manor College is ranked #14 nationally among low-residency programs by Poets & Writers Magazine.

For more information, go to: http://www.pw.org/content/2011_mfa_rankings_the_top_ten_lowresidency_programs

We are pleased to announce the addition of four new fellowships for writers:

• The Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction
• The Michael Steinberg Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction
• The Jacqueline Woodson Fellowship for a Young People’s Writer of African or Caribbean Descent
• The Sharon Olds Fellowship for Poetry

Fellowship recipients will receive a $1,000 award toward their first semester’s tuition; awards must be applied toward the winter residency/spring semester directly following acceptance. Fellowship applications are due October 15, 2010 (not a postmark date; materials must be received in our offices before or on October 15).

For more information, go to: http://www.pmc.edu/mfa-financial-aid

Registrations for “Writing for Stage & Screen,” a Solstice Seminar, are now open to the public. Designed to build upon and expand the concentrations of the Solstice MFA Program, the Solstice Seminars are two-day intensives that offer writers the opportunity to explore and deepen their knowledge of craft. “Writing for Stage & Screen” will take place on the Pine Manor College campus from October 29–30, 2010. Solstice MFA students and graduates are eligible for a 5% discount on tuition.

For faculty bios, seminar descriptions, and a downloadable registration form, go to: http://www.pmc.edu/solstice-seminars

Our alumni guest columnist this month is Laura Snyder, who writes on the subject of emotional risk-taking and character development.

To read Laura’s column, click here, or scroll to the end of the page.


Solstice MFA Director and poet Meg Kearney will be reading at the following venues in September:

• Saturday, September 11 at 3 p.m., Jabberwocky Bookshop, Newburyport, MA. www.powowriverpoets.com

• Wednesday, September 15 at 7 p.m., Gibson’s Bookstore, 27 South Main Street, Concord, NH. www.gibsonsbookstore.com

• Friday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m., College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI. www.springfed.org

• Saturday, September 18 at 6 p.m., Arts League of Michigan Virgil H. Carr Center, Detroit, MI. www.artsleague.com


MFA student Hannah Goodman’s column “It’s Not Our Fault,” appears in the current edition of The Jewish Voice and Herald.

For more information, go to: http://www.jvhri.org/opinion/guest-columnists/466-its-not-our-fault.html

Multi-genre writer Laban Carrick Hill’s forthcoming book, Dave the Potter, received a starred review from School Library Journal.

For more information, go to: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/reviews/pretograde4/885579-319/preschool_to_grade_4.html.csp

Multi-genre writer Randall Kenan edited The Cross of Redemption: The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin, now available from Random House.

For more information, go to: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307378965

MFA student Jim Kennedy’s essay “End of the Line,” a finalist in the Creative Nonfiction MFA “program-off,” will appear in the September issue of the magazine.

For more information, go to: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/

MFA graduate Faye Rapoport-DesPres’ essay “Forty-Six” appears in Ascent, and her essay “Belonging” is forthcoming in September on InterfaithFamily.com.

For more information, go to: http://readthebestwriting.com/ and/or www.interfaithfamily.com.

Multi-genre writer Sandra Scofield’s story “Dreaming in Italian” appears in the September issue of Main Street Rag.

For more information, go to: www.mainstreetrag.com.

Fiction writer Sterling Watson’s latest book, Fighting in the Shade, is forthcoming from Akashic Books.

For more information, go to: http://www.akashicbooks.com/

Young people’s writer David Yoo’s short story, “A Fistful of Feathers,” appears in the forthcoming anthology, Guys Read: Funny Business.

For more information, go to: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Guys-Read-Funny-Business-Jon-Scieszka/?isbn=9780061963742


MFA student Carol Owens Campbell attended a Master Fiction Workshop and Summer Intensive Class taught by Joshua Kendall, a senior editor at Viking/Penguin, August 1–7 in Brooklyn, NY.

MFA student Hannah Goodman is teaching a Journal Writing Workshop, September 25 from 1–5 p.m. at the East Bay Chamber of Commerce, 16 Cutler Avenue, Warren, RI.

For more information, go to: http://www.hannahrgoodman.com/classes.html.

MFA graduate Liza Kollman was recently hired as an adjunct professor of Composition at the Minnesota School of Business in Plymouth, MN.

MFA student Melissa Ford Lucken recently accepted a full-time teaching position at Lansing Community College in Lansing, MI. Her paper, “Exclusionary Institutional Structure or Cultural Clash, Why do First and Second Generation Immigrants Dropout?: A Comparison of One Group in Two Different Countries” will be included in The Immigration & Education Nexus: A Focus on the Context & Consequences of Schooling.

MFA graduate Faye Rapoport-DesPres will be teaching an adult education course, “Writing the Personal Essay,” for Lexington, MA Community Education.

MFA Writer-in-Residence Mike Steinberg was prose-writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writer's Center in July, where he taught a week-long workshop on “Utilizing Voice and Persona in Creative Nonfiction.”


The Writers Project of Ghana (a NGO co-founded by MFA faculty member Laban Carrick Hill) is now broadcasting weekly on Sunday nights at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more information, go to: http://www.citifmonline.com/site/

Randall Kenan was recently interviewed on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition about James Baldwin’s life and work and his role as editor of The Cross of Redemption: the Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin.

To hear the interview, go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129281259&sc=emaf

Multi-genre writer Anne-Marie Oomen’s book An American Map: Essays was listed as part of an article on “Innovative University Presses and the Books You Want From Them,” on the Huffington Post.

For more information, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anis-shivani/anis-shivani-university-press_b_668299.html#s129259


The MFA Blog is a discussion about writing and writing programs: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/

By Laura Snyder

In her forward from Best of Tin House: Stories, Dorothy Allison wrote, “Large-souled narratives — attempts to fully understand individuals and communities, to portray us fully and with compassion — enlarge us.” Such a narrative, she explains, “…takes us inside someone we have never imagined before or pulls us inside someone we have always dismissed or held in contempt and makes us see this person in new and deeper ways.”

I believe portraying characters fully involves taking risks. As writers, this means facing our fears and reckoning with our experiences fully and honestly. To develop our characters, I believe we must confront our vulnerabilities, or what I refer to as our “hot spots” — emotions and experiences that make us uncomfortable.

Although I am aware of my hot spots, I have rarely addressed them in my work. My experience of alienation is one such area of vulnerability; I grew up in one of four Jewish families in an unwelcoming community in upstate New York. Rather than address the covert prejudice I experienced, I chose to circumvent these issues by portraying characters who lacked the identifying characteristics of family, heritage or community.

This was not the only hot spot I chose to ignore: my mother was very secretive about her past, and though I didn’t know the cause, as a child I sensed her suffering. Later I learned that my grandmother was schizophrenic, and that both she and my grandfather committed suicide. When my mother was nineteen, she found her father gassed to death in the basement. Blaming herself, my mother abandoned her dreams and cared for her abusive, mentally ill mother.

When I married, the specter of schizophrenia resurfaced. Schizophrenia has ravaged many of my husband’s family members, the most recent victim being my nephew. Although schizophrenia may have devastated my family, mental illness has been conspicuously absent from my stories. I am unsure of how to describe a person’s transformation from a child with seemingly unlimited potential into an angry, delusional adult, or how to explain the effects of his illness on his family.

But in spite of my fears, I am committed to bringing my experiences more fully into my writing. In the past six months, I’ve filled over two hundred pages with notes and free writes in an attempt to create truth from characters that have so far eluded me. I refuse to give up. I will continue to dig deeper, to explore and expose dormant shame, anger, and helplessness.

But uncovering vulnerability isn’t enough. To create a large-souled narrative, I must also incorporate vulnerability into realized characters. This means avoiding stereotype; it means writing with compassion, but also with razor-sharp precision.

My guides in developing fully rounded characters, and in taking the kinds of risks I must take as a writer, are the authors and stories I admire. In “A River of Names,” Dorothy Allison immerses us into a family whose poverty of spirit is so deep, its members brutalize each other and respond to the deaths of siblings, cousins, and sons with horrifying apathy. In Bastard Out of Carolina, Ms. Allison meticulously explores a mother’s decision to stay with her husband, even though he has just brutally raped the daughter she claims to love. In Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin immerses us in his narrator David’s shame; unable to accept his homosexuality and his feelings for Giovanni, David destroys the man he was meant to love. In each of these instances, the authors imbue their work with compassion and unflinching honesty.

Accepting Dorothy Allison’s premise, we must conclude that all experiences and therefore all stories are vital to fully understand the total human experience. She writes, “…short stories, novels and memoirs intersect to form a reality as powerful and as full as human history itself…You want your story to meet all other stories, to become a part of the great human narrative, to shape how people think about themselves and their history.”

These words inspire me to explore my fear, anger and shame. Rather than avoid difficult subject matter, I plan to delve more deeply into the issues that attract, but at the same time repel me. By taking personal risks, I move closer to perfecting my stories. Only through honest, aggressive persistence will I someday create stories worthy of inclusion into what Dorothy Allison refers to as the “great human narrative.”

Note: Dorothy Allison was a guest faculty member at the January 2010 Solstice MFA Residency.


Río Grande Review has issued a call for submissions on the theme of kitsch and camp, with a deadline of September 21, 2010.

For more information, go to: www.riograndereview.com

Real Simple invites writers to enter its Third-Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest, with a deadline of September 24, 2010.

For more information, go to: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/inspiration-motivation/second-annual-life-lessons-essay-contest-00000000013682/

One by One Press announces a call for poetry submissions, with a deadline of September 30, 2010.

For more information, go to: http://www.onebyonepress.com

The Millay Colony for the Arts offers one-month residencies to six visual artists, writers and composers each month between the months of April and November. The deadline for application is October 1, 2010.

For more information, go to: http://www.millaycolony.org/residencies

The Vermont Studio Center announces its fall fellowship application deadline, October 1, 2010.

For more information, go to: www.vermontstudiocenter.org/fellowships

Auburn University announces its 2010 Auburn Writers Conference, on the theme of “The Child on the Page: Writing For and About Children,” to be held October 8–9, 2010.

For more information, go to: www.auburnwritersconference.org.

Mêlée Live is currently accepting poetry submissions from matriculated MFA students for its inaugural issue. The deadline is November 1, 2010.

For more information, email: uspocobooks@gmail.com

Creative Nonfiction Magazine announces its annual “MFA Program-Off” Contest for essayists, with a deadline of November 5, 2010.

For more information, go to: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/thejournal/submittocnf.htm#MFA

Literary Laundry is accepting poetry, short fiction, and one-act play submissions, with a deadline of December 1, 2010.

For more information, go to: http://www.literarylaundry.com/submissions

As an undergraduate institution consistently ranked among the most diverse in the country, Pine Manor College emphasizes an inclusive, community-building approach to liberal arts education. The Solstice MFA in Creative Writing reflects the College’s overall mission by creating a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to take creative risks. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for real cultural change.

For more information, visit www.pmc.edu/mfa

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