Author Archives: Erin Underwood

Post-Residency by Joseph Carro

We all gathered in the common room of Chamberlain Hall and reminisced, speaking with smiles stretched across our faces and kinetic hand gestures painting our stories with extra detail. Some of us wouldn’t be coming back, and so there were trembling lips, teary eyes and long, unashamed hugs. Handshakes, hand waves and promises to keep in touch no matter what.

Those of us who were not yet in danger of leaving the program thought aloud about how we would handle our own sad goodbyes when the time came, while those new to the program spoke in weary or excited tones about their experiences and what they were looking forward to.

Some of us lingered into the small hours of the night and played games or arm-wrestled or had deep conversations, until there were only a handful remaining. Slowly, we trickled out to our respective rooms, slowing our steps so that it took just a little bit longer.

With that, the residency is ended. In the morning, some will have gone before I even thought of waking, while I will see others in various states of packing and rushing to eat breakfast as I load my own things into my car after I eat.

This has been an amazing residency, even though some of my best Stonecoast friends are in Ireland right now. I was given so much good feedback on my work that I really think I can shape up at least one of my pieces enough for publication. On top of that, I will be working on my third-semester project, which is really exciting to me. On top of that, I made some new, amazing friends….am now the MC for next semester’s readings and Follies….and I’ve created some lasting memories that I will cherish forever.

Be well and I wish you safe travels, my Stonecoast friends. To those who’ve graduated, know that most of you have helped me in times of need and confusion, and that won’t be forgotten. I wish you the best of luck in your lives and future endeavors.

To those who danced with me, sweaty as I was, thank you for indulging me in my craziness.

Faculty: You amaze and inspire me. Nancy, I can’t wait to work with you. Elizabeth and Theodora, thank you for your insights and kindness and enthusiasm. You all make me feel like a writer.

Dorothy: You have been amazing. Your trip to Brunswick mid-residency rejuvenated me and had me smiling. I’m a lucky man.

Now begins the next chapter, and much work is to be done. Wish me luck! (Good luck to you all, as well)

~

Joseph Carro is a third semester student in the Popular Fiction concentration. You can read his movie and book reviews on his Average Joe Review Blog.

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Five Years Later and What Do I Have to Show? Good Question

by Lisa Romeo

This is how it would be, surely: Five years after graduating on a hot July night, I’d return to the Stonecoast summer residency for a visit. I’d chat up alumni, swapping stories about our fabulous or lousy agents, latest book deal (surely we’d all be on book number two, at least). We’d compare who’s on a tenure track, who’s stuck in adjunct purgatory. We’d brag (modestly) about our multiple impending publications in top tier journals or major media outlets. We’d regale faculty with success stories. Awards. Grants. Offers. Options. Or maybe not. Not because we weren’t all successful in whatever corner of the literary world we’d chosen to occupy (we would be! we are!)—but we might just get smashing drunk and moan about how we miss graduate school with its immovable deadlines and objective productivity expectations and the smell of authorship just strong enough to pull us along and just weak enough that we needn’t fret about it—yet.

This is how it is: Five years after finishing my MFA program in creative nonfiction, I don’t make the drive to Maine, ostensibly because it conflicts with our family vacation. But I haven’t made the drive any other year either, partly because I fear standing around the Stone House—in my memory a magical place where my dreams still live, undisturbed, and where my confidence partially remains, stubbornly lodged—and sullying it with halting strained conversation about what I think of as, I don’t know, a failure to thrive. Because I can’t talk about an agent, a book deal, a secure teaching appointment, top literary journals, major awards, and I worry that if these are the status updates I’d have to spew at a Stonecoast gathering, I’d come up blank.

Oh, I’ve done things. Published stuff, taught, won, judged, jumped genres, edited, ghostwrote. Yet when I think about five years gone since my time at Stonecoast ended, I’m filled with—not regret exactly, but a yawning awareness of what’s not there.

The book.

The one with just my name on the spine, not merely in the list of contributors.

Surely by now there should be one, no? That’s what the voice in my head shouts, anyway, and it’s what I (perhaps ungraciously) believe I would be judged by in a room of further-down-the-road Stonecoast alumni.

I do know this: five years have clocked by faster than I anticipated or realized, though that is true about most of life. And while the commitment to craft and the hunger for a fuller literary life has grown more, not less important to me as the post-MFA years unspooled, so too has the score-keeping and CV-building and literary posturing—and the absence of that word “author”—inserted itself, sometimes mockingly.

And some days, I mind.

Some of the mile markers I had originally set for myself upon graduation—maybe overly hopeful, surely overly confident—simply fell away. Others got moved further into the future. Most are in a constant state of revision. Getting from one point to the next was, is, taking longer than I liked. But as one year has sloughed into the next, and X hadn’t happened on schedule, I watched myself begin to respond with less judgment that is my initial self-critical reflex. Instead: “Oh, not now? Okay, next year will be fine too. Or the next.”

So, some days, I don’t mind at all.

I’m not lazy or apathetic, but understanding that what seemed so clear to me in 2008 was an illusion, has been freeing, until suddenly, it isn’t. Like one day last month, when a particularly acute case of Stonecoast classmate envy hit. There had been, it seemed, a slew of good news: announcements of book deals, agents, impressive awards and fellowships and grants, teaching appointments that came with benefits and a title and without the need to drive to three campuses in as many days; film options, media coverage, a book translated into two dozen languages.

I have not been idle. I know this. There is, indeed, a completed memoir manuscript, or at least there has been for a few months now. Before that, there wasn’t.

I know exactly why there is no book of my own on the shelf in the room of my own where every day I write and revise and edit and submit essays and narrative nonfiction and journalism and poetry and pitches—but to journals and magazines and website, and not to agents and publishers and book contests.

The reason the book hasn’t happened in the five years since leaving Stonecoast will, I guess, please my Stonecoast mentors: it wasn’t ready. Not really. Not ready enough until recently, when in its seventh draft, I decided it was. So as for the not-an-author-yet thing, I can’t complain really. It’s not as if I’ve been querying and submitting and entering it like mad for five years and piled up rejections and no responses and agita.

Agents approached: Precisely one, who I was referred to by a writer friend frequently on the Times bestseller list. (Agent’s response: “Absolutely lovely, and not commercial enough.” Wrong agent, I know, but who wouldn’t have tried?)

Publishers approached: Precisely one, who I was referred to by a writer friend with four midlist books. (Editor’s initial response: “Love the sample – send me more.” I did. We’ll see.)

Book publishing contests entered: Three. Once, a finalist.

Reasons to complain: None

But to paraphrase a fellow Stonecoast alumna, the missing book in the CV is slowly, irritatingly becoming a career opportunity cost. Let’s face it – that book with only your name on the spine opens doors, turns walls into windows.

Maybe that’s not a valid reason for avoiding a residency reunion. Of course it’s not. Maybe I’m assuming former classmates, faculty and visitors would be far more judgmental than they are likely to be. Of course I am. Maybe I’ll even get over myself and show up next year.

~

Lisa Romeo graduated from Stonecoast in the creative nonfiction track in July 2008. She writes, teaches, edits, and mostly doesn’t complain, from her home in Cedar Grove, NJ, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She does not have an agent, book deal, tenure, a Pushcart or a quirky writer bio. Excerpts from her memoir, Father Figure: Meeting My Absent Father, and Myself, have appeared in Lunch Ticket, Barnstorm, and Quay, and are forthcoming in Pithead Chapel and Under the Sun. Visit Lisa’s website.

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July 2013 SCAA Board Elections

The Alumni Meeting that is held in conjunction with the July residency has been scheduled for Sunday, July 21 at the Stone House. The details are listed below.  The meeting will also include a live election to fill the open spots on the SCAA Board that were left open after then online elections. The details for the election are listed below.

If you would like to run for any of these positions even though you won’t be attending the July meeting, please send Erin Underwood an email at erin.m.underwood (at) gmail.com. I will send a confirmation to you that I have received your email. If you don’t receive a confirmation, that means that I haven’t received your email for some reason. All nominations must be received by July 19, 2013. Nominations may be made in person at the Alumni Meeting.

If you have any questions about the meeting or the elections, please feel free to ask.

ALUMNI MEETING:

  • Meeting:  SCAA Alumni and Graduating Student Meeting
  • Location:  Stone House
  • Date:  Sunday, July 21st
  • Time:  10:00 am

ELECTIONS:

In addition to the normal agenda items for the July Alumni & Graduating Student Meeting, we also need to hold onsite/live electionsto fill the opening that didn’t fill during the online elections this year.  As a reminder two of the Director positions were filled but a variety of other positions were left open. Plus, one additional Director decided to step down. Listed below are the 1) current open positions, 2) the two new Board members, 3) the continuing Board members, 4) a full listing of the Board positions with associated new/continuing member names and open positions, and 5) a listing of the outgoing members.

1) OPEN POSITIONS:

  • President (2 years)
  • Vice President (1 year)
  • Treasurer (2 years) — MUST BE A RESIDENT OF MAINE
  • 1 Director (2 year)
  • 1 Director (1 year)

2) NEW BOARD MEMBERS

  • Director: Patricia Barletta (July 2013-July 2015)
  • Director: Kathleen Saville  (July 2013-July 2015)

3) CONTINUING BOARD MEMBERS

  • Secretary: Jessica De Koninck
  • Director: Adam Kreutz Gallardo PF S’12

4) FULL LISTING OF BOARD, including NEW & CONTINUING MEMBERS & OPEN POSITIONS

  • President — 2 years — July 2013-July 2015
  • Vice President — 1 year — (July 2013-July 2014)
  • Secretary: Jessica De Koninck – (July 2012-July 2014)
  • Treasurer—MUST BE A RESIDENT OF MAINE — 2 years — July 2013-July 2015
  • 5 Directors:
    • Adam Kreutz Gallardo PF S’12 – (July 2012-July 2014)
    • Patricia Barletta (July 2013-July 2015)
    • Kathleen Saville  (July 2013-July 2015)
    • Director — 2 years — (July 2013-July 2015)
    • Director — 1 year — (July 2013-July 2014)

5) LISTING OF OUTGOING BOARD MEMBERS

Outgoing Board Members:

Special 1-Year Term to fill Vacancies July 2013-July 2014:

  • Vice President: Libby Cudmore PF S’10
  • Director:  Lynnette James PF S’12

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Apply for the January 2014 Stonecoast in Ireland (SCI) Residency

Dear Stonecoasters,

You are warmly invited to apply for the January 2014 Stonecoast in Ireland (SCI) residency. This will be our sixteenth residency in Ireland and each one has been terrific. Here are the details:

WHEN? The winter SCI residency will run from 16-23 January 2014.

WHERE: We will meet in Howth, a beautiful seaside village located on a hilly peninsula just 20 minutes northeast of Dublin city center. Participants and faculty will stay together in the elegant King Sitric Guesthouse, right across the street from the harbor, pier, and lighthouse. Come see why James Joyce chose the cliffs of Howth Head as the inevitable site for Leopold Bloom to propose to Molly (oh, and W.B. Yeats wrote his first poems while living in Howth.)

DEADLINE: Applications must be emailed as MSW attachments to SCI coordinator Ted Deppe by 11:59 p.m. (your time zone) Wednesday, 22 May 2013.

WHO’S ON THE FACULTY IN JANUARY 2014? Stonecoast’s Jaed Coffin and Ted Deppe will be joined by prominent Irish writers, to be named soon. During the program’s first fifteen residencies, visitors have included Irish writers Paul Durcan, Claire Keegan, Harry Clifton, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Theo Dorgan, Kate Newmann, Dermot Bolger, Paula Meehan, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Sínead Morrissey, Carlo Gébler, Anthony Glavin, Deirdre Madden, Eamon Grennan, Hugo Hamilton, Joan Newmann, Tony Curtis, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Kevin Barry, Sarah Rees Brennan, Martin Malone, and Macdara Woods; Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn; traditional storyteller Liz Weir; Trinity College professor emeritus Vincent McBrierty; and traditional musicians Áine Uí Laoith and Eilín Ní Chearna.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE? Any Stonecoast student who will not be attending his or her first residency in January 2014 may apply. Alumni and fifth-residency students may also apply.

HOW ARE STUDENTS SELECTED? We will accept ten participants. The spots on the roster are filled first with continuing Stonecoast students, but if there is space available we are happy to have fifth-residency students and alumni join us. Seniority is an important factor when selecting from continuing students, but we also consider balancing workshops and creating a harmonious group. We hope to decide on the roster and notify applicants by the end of May.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT? You will be totally immersed in Irish literature and the beautiful Irish landscape. While offering a unique cultural opportunity, residencies in Ireland also maintain the same rigorous academic discipline as the Stonecoast program in Maine. A full schedule of workshops, seminars, and readings are supplemented by a field trip; past field trips have included such things as trips to the James Joyce tower and museum in Sandycove and the astonishing W.B. Yeats exhibit at the National Library in Dublin. Participants are encouraged to arrive early or stay late, so they can explore Ireland and/or Europe.

WHAT DOES IT COST? Tuition for continuing students is the same as in Maine. Because of the dollar’s slide against the euro, the cost for room and board is $85 more than in Maine. Participants are responsible for their own airfare.

The cost for alumni or fifth-semester students is $880 tuition and $1,060 for room and board.

WHO CAN I WORK WITH FOR THE SPRING SEMESTER? Continuing students can request to work with mentors from the full Stonecoast faculty for the Spring 2014 term, whether or not the faculty member is in Maine or Ireland next January.

HOW DO I APPLY? Download the accompanying application, fill it out, and send it as a MSW attachment to Theodore.Deppe@maine.edu before midnight (your time zone) on Wednesday 22 May 2013. (If you have any problem creating a MSW (.doc or .docx) file, feel free to type the relevant information from the application into an email and send it to the same address.)

HERE’S WHAT STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN THERE SAY: “Stonecoast in Ireland has been the most amazing experience of my writing life”… “Superb!”… “Transformative”…“Absolutely loved it and feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. Not only is the location fantastic, the opportunity to work in such a small group and work so closely with faculty and visiting presenters is wonderful” … “Life-changing”…“An intense experience and immersion into Irish writing and culture. It’s perfect!”

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON STONECOAST IN IRELAND, CHECK OUT THE STONECOAST WEBSITE, OR CONTACT

We hope you can join us as Stonecoast in Ireland turns Sweet Sixteen!

Ted Deppe, Stonecoast in Ireland Coordinator
Email: Theodore.deppe@maine.edu

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SCAA Board Nominations are OPEN!

NOMINATION INSTRUCTIONS:

WE NEED YOU. Nominations for the Board opened on April 15th. If you are an alumnus/a of Stonecoast MFA or you are a 4th semester student who will be receiving his/her MFA degree in July, you are eligible to serve on the SCAA Board. Anyone who meets either of these requirements can benominated to for an open position on the SCAA Board.
All nominations must include the following information:
  • Nominator’s Name:
  • Nominee’s Information (Please fill out as much as you know since I may not be familiar with the nominee):
    • Name:
    • Graduation Semester & Year:
    • Email:
    • Position:
Email your nominations to Erin Underwood by April 30th. All nominations will receive an acknowledgement email. if you don’t receive an acknowledgement, your nomination may not have been received.

~~~

Below is the list of open positions:
  • President (2 years)
  • Vice President (1 year)
  • Treasurer (2 years)
  • 3 Directors (2 years)
 
Would you like to join the SCAA Board or do you know someone who we be great on the Board? If so, I’ll be sending a second email today that tells you how to nominate yourself or someone else.
 
Written below is the Election Schedule, lists of outgoing/continuing members, and other related info. Please be sure to read this email so that you are properly informed of the coming election. We really could use your help, energy, and new ideas on the Board.
 
Election Schedule:

April 15-30, 2013 — Nominations open. You may either nominate someone else or yourself.

May 1, 2013 — SCAA contacts nominees to confirm that they are willing to run for the Board
May 15, 2013 — Nominees must confirm to the SCAA that they are willing to run for election
June 1, 2013 — Nominee statements due (100 words max)
June 9-15, 2013 — Online Elections are conducted
June 16, 2013 — Election results are announced
July 21, 2013 — Newly elected Board members begin their terms at the Stonecoast Alumni Meeting

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SCAA Board Nominations and Election Schedule

SCAA Elections are coming! If you really want to make a difference for Stonecoast MFA and its alumni, this is your chance. The open positions and election schedule are listed below. You will also find nomination instructions as well. If you have any questions, please email Erin Underwood.

OPEN POSITIONS:

  • President (2 years)
  • Vice President (1 year)
  • Treasurer (2 years) — MUST BE A RESIDENT OF MAINE
  • 3 Directors (2 years)
Outgoing Board Members:
  • President: Matthew Quinn Martin PF S’10 – (8/1/2012-7/31/2013) 
  • Treasurer: Mihku Paul – (8/1/2011-7/31/2013)
  • Director: Bunny Goodjohn  – (8/1/2011-7/31/2013)
  • Director: Mike Langworthy CNF W’11 – (8/1/2011-7/31/2013) 
  • Director: Erin Underwood PF S’09 – (8/1/2011-7/31/2013)
Special 1-Year Term to fill Vacancy from 8/1/13-7/31/2014:
  • Vice President: Libby Cudmore PF S’10 – (8/1/2012-7/31/2014)
Continuing Board Members:
  • Secretary: Jessica De Koninck – (8/1/2012-7/31/2014)
  • Director:  Lynnette James PF S’12 – (8/2012-7/31/2014)
  • Director: Adam Kreutz Gallardo PF S’12 – (8/1/2012-7/31/2014)

ELECTION SCHEDULE:

April 15-30, 2013 — Nominations open. You may either nominate someone else or yourself.

May 1, 2013 — SCAA contacts nominees to confirm that they are willing to run for the Board
May 15, 2013 — Nominees must confirm to the SCAA that they are willing to run for election
June 1, 2013 — Nominee statements due (100 words max)
June 9-15, 2013 — Online Elections are conducted
June 16, 2013 — Election results are announced
July 21, 2013 — Newly elected Board members begin their terms on 8/1/2013 and are encouraged to attend the Stonecoast Alumni Meeting in Maine

 NOMINATIONS INSTRUCTIONS:

If you are an alumnus/a of Stonecoast MFA or you are a 4th semester student who will be receiving his/her MFA degree in July, you are eligible to serve on the SCAA Board. Anyone who meets either of these requirements can be nominated to for an open position on the SCAA Board.
All nominations must include the following information:
  • Nominator’s Name:
  • Nominee’s Information:
    • Name:
    • Graduation Semester & Year:
    • Email:
    • Position:
Email your nominations to Erin Underwood by April 30th. All nominations will receive an acknowledgement email. if you don’t receive an acknowledgement, your nomination may not have been received.

OTHER INFORMATION: 

What is the SCAA?
The SCAA is the Stonecoast Alumni Association, which was formed to keep Stonecoast graduates professionally connected, sponsor alumni events, and raise the profile of Stonecoast alumni through net-working opportunities, tracking alumni publications and maintaining a presence within Stonecoast through collaborative activities at residencies and reunions. The SCAA is represented by a Board of Directors that is elected by the general alumni community according to the organization’s Charter. https://stonecoastcommunity.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/scaa-charter-w08.pdf

How are the SCAA Board of Directors elected?

The SCAA Board is voted on by the Stonecoast alumni body according to the terms of the SCAA Charter. Please see the Charter for election and governance details. Generally speaking, each position comes with a 2 year, staggered term to ensure that continuing members are in place to help train and guide new members through the Board’s processes.Elections are held prior to the July alumni meeting or at the July Alumni Meeting, and newly elected members begin their terms at the close of the Alumni Meeting.

 

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Stonecoast MFA Community Reading at AWP

We’ve got an amazing reading in store for you at AWP this year. If you’re in Boston on Thursday, March 7 you are invited to join us at the Boston Public Library for the Stonecoast MFA Community Reading. Bring a friend, share this invite, and make it a night to remember. We’ll see you there!

Stonecoast MFA Community Reading at AWP
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
700 BOYLSTON STREET
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
6:00-8:00 pm

Jeanne Marie Beaumont, faculty
Jaed Coffin, faculty
Anthony D’Aries, alumnus
Aaron Hamburger, faculty
Lexa Hillyer, alumna
Sandra McDonald, alumna
Thomas McDonald, alumnus
Suzanne Strempek Shea, faculty
Sholeh Wolpe, faculty
Lady Zen, student

Introduction-Erin Underwood; Closing Remarks-Annie Finch

BPL Reading.pptx

Download the PDF for the Stonecoast Community Reader for the BPL Reading here.

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