Author Archives: stonecoastfacultyblog

Stonecoast at #AWP15

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Blog

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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Stonecoast Community, Please Help If You Can

The family of one of our Stonecoast Community members is in need of your support.

For those of you who’d like to make a donation to help the family with medical bills, a fund has been set up here:

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2014 Summer Residency – Readings Open to the Public

University of Southern Maine



*This schedule is subject to change depending on residency needs.*




7:30 p.m. Welcome Remarks and Faculty Introductions

Justin Tussing, Interim Director

The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern – Robinson Room


7:45 p.m. Flash Faculty Readings

Faculty Flash Readings I: Faculty members will share three minutes of their work.

Rick Bass, Sarah Braunstien, Martin Espada, Aaron Hamburger, Elizabeth Hand, Nancy Holder, Elizabeth Searle

The Inn at Brunswick Station – Robinson Room

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Stonecoast Community, Please Help if you Can

The family of one of our Stonecoast Community members is in need of your support.

“Our father Daniel Switliski, age 49, was recently diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. He underwent major surgery having his appendix removed, part of his colon, bowels, and bladder. My father has been providing for our family of 7 working non stop all of his life to make sure we were always taken care of. He’d give the shirt off his back even if he couldn’t afford to. Now our whole family is in a desperate financial situation. We have NO household income due to his recent diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer. He can no longer work now. Medical bills, utilities and rent are necessities we cannot afford. The 3 younger kids (which are minors) and the rest of my family are at a risk of losing the roof over our heads. We are in the process of applying for SSD but as you all probably know it takes several months. We need help.”

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

Dear Stonecoasters:

You are cordially invited to apply for the July 2014 Stonecoast in Ireland (SCI) residency.  Here are the details:

WHEN? The summer SCI residency will run from 9-16 July 2014.

airport with signWHERE: We will gather in Dingle, a spot National Geographic called “the most beautiful place in the world.”  Dingle is a lively seaside village with superb traditional music, located on a mountainous peninsula on the stunningly scenic west coast of Ireland.  Students and faculty will stay together in the elegant Coastline Guesthouse, right on the harbor and a short walk to town. Come see why Ireland has inspired so many wonderful writers over the past century.

DEADLINE: Applications must be emailed as MSW attachments to SCI coordinator Ted Deppe by 11:59 p.m. (your time zone) Monday, 18 November 2013.

WHO’S ON THE FACULTY IN JULY 2014? Stonecoast’s David Mura and Ted Deppe will be joined by prominent Irish writers, to be named later on this winter. During the program’s first sixteen residencies, visitors have included Irish writers Paul Durcan, Claire Keegan, Harry Clifton, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Theo Dorgan, Kate Newmann, Kevin Barry, Dermot Bolger, Paula Meehan, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Sinéad Morrissey, Carlo Gébler, Anthony Glavin, Deirdre Madden, Eamon Grennan, Hugo Hamilton, Joan Newmann, Tony Curtis, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Martin Malone, and Macdara Woods; Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn; traditional storyteller Liz Weir; Trinity College professor emeritus Vincent McBrierty; actors Seán Coyne and Tegolin Knowland; 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 July 2014 may apply.  Fifth-residency students and alumni may also apply to fill any spots that are not taken by continuing students.

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

Workshop 2WHAT 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, which in the past has included trips to the Great Blasket Island, site of an astonishing literary renaissance during the first half of the 20th century.  Students are encouraged to arrive early or stay late, so they can explore Ireland and/or Europe.

WHAT DOES IT COST? Tuition 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. Students are responsible for their own airfare.

WHO CAN I WORK WITH FOR THE FALL SEMESTER? Students can request to work with mentors from the full Stonecoast faculty for the Fall 2014 term, whether or not the faculty member is in Maine or Ireland in July.

HOW DO I APPLY? Contact Ted Deppe for an application and submit before midnight (your time zone) on Monday 18 November 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!”


Ted Deppe, Stonecoast in Ireland Coordinator

Renvyle, County Galway, Ireland


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The Magic Words

by Linda Kobert

It was late, after ten at night. I’d just won my first Scrabble game in months, and my friends and I were all relaxing after a typical cutthroat contest. We’d been on the go since early morning that Saturday: graduation at the school where my husband teaches, then making the rounds of student parties. At the end of the day, my husband and I landed at our friend’s house to chat about the new grads as we faced off across the game board, which we do nearly every week. But the competition was over; we were relaxing, finishing up the wine, sorting out our summer plans. And then it hit me: I hadn’t written a word all day. I sprung from my chair with the realization. “We have to go,” I said. “I have to write.”

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Stonecoast Reading Series: Stonecoast Stories

This month’s Stonecoast Reading Series event will feature an evening of words and music, with fiction faculty member Sarah Braunstein and fiction alum and musician Dave Patterson

Wednesday, June 26th – Stonecoast Stories 

7:00pm at Local Sprouts 649 Congress Street, Portland, ME

Sarah Braunstein

Sarah Braunstein is the author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, winner of the Maine Book Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Agni, Ploughshares, The Sun, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. She has been a member of the Stonecoast MFA faculty since 2011.

High Spirits 1

Dave Patterson is a writer and musician from Portland, Maine.  He attended the Bread Loaf School of English and is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program in Creative Writing.  His fiction has appeared in The Onion River Review.  He also writes music, including the concept album, How We Hunger, and plays with his wife Anna under the name The High Spirits. 

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Stonecoast Reading Series: A Feast of Stonecoast Poetry for National Poetry Month

This month’s Stonecoast Reading Series event will feature poet and Stonecoast alum Richard Cambridge, who will read from his work as well as the work of fellow Stonecoast writers and other favorite poets.

Wednesday, April 24th – A Feast of Stonecoast Poetry for National Poetry Month 

7:00pm at Local Sprouts 649 Congress Street, Portland, ME.

Richard Cambridge

Richard Cambridge

Richard Cambridge’s work has appeared in The Paterson Literary Review, Nantucket JournalAsheville Poetry Review, and other publications.  He is the author of a collection of poetry, Pulsa— A Book of Books (Hanover Press), of which Robert Pinsky wrote, “Full of heart, sincere ambition and a genuine devotion to the mysteries of language,” and The Cigarette Papers— A Memoir of Addiction (Fern Hill Records), from which he developed a one-man play that opened at The Institute of Contemporary Art, and was hailed by the Boston Globe as “A tour de force.”

Cambridge is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. He was a finalist for a residency at the Fine Arts Work Shop in Provincetown, MA, and he won the Masters Slam at the 1997 National Poetry Slam. In 2011 he graduated from the University of Southern Maine with an MFA in creative writing (Fiction) and completed his first novel, RIDE, based on a hitchhiking journey.  He is currently at work on a new novel titled 1970, an alternate history centered on his experiences with the Black Panthers, featuring a cast of supporting activists who successfully bring revolution to America.  He is a Fellow Emeritus at the Black Earth Institute, a think tank that encourages awareness of the arts as a means of promoting a progressive, inclusively spiritual and environmentally aware society.

The Stonecoast Reading Series was created in 2013 in celebration of the program’s 10th Anniversary and as a way to give something back to the inspiring, creative people of Portland, Maine. The reading series occurs on a bi-monthly basis and features the talents of our students, alumni, and faculty. 

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Stonecoast Reading Series Kickoff and Celebration of Black History Month with Performance By Lady Zen

Lady Zen, photo by Helen Peppe

Lady Zen, photo by Helen Peppe

by Ashley Johnson

University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program will kick off its Stonecoast Reading Series on February 27 in celebration of Black History Month and the MFA Program’s Tenth Anniversary. The event will feature the music and poetry of Stonecoast student and local performer, Lady Zen.

“Black History Month highlights a tradition of creative expression,” says Stonecoast’s Associate Director, Robin Talbot. “One of Stonecoast’s fundamental values is to foster culturally diverse writers who have a clear understanding of the role writers play in social activism. We honor those writers who have contributed to these values.”

One of these writers is Stonecoast student and social activist, Lady Zen. Born in Brazil and adopted by American parents, Lady Zen began a journey in creative expression as a vocal child prodigy. She won numerous awards, including a J. William Fulbright Scholarship for Opera Performance. In 2007, Lady Zen moved to Portland, ME and experienced a renewed sense of creativity. She shifted her focus to poetry and began working with Portland’s music scene. In 2010 she released a five-track EP titled “Poverty to Poetry.” Lady Zen was also named a Maine Poet of the Month in 2012 and was a semi-finalist on the 2012 season of the X-Factor.

The Stonecoast Reading Series will occur on a bi-monthly basis beginning in February and will feature students, faculty and alumni from the program. Future events will include a celebration of National Poetry Month on April 24 with a reading given by Stonecoast Director Annie Finch, “Stonecoast stories” on June 26 featuring faculty member Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, “Writing Nature: An Evening of Creative Nonfiction” on August 28, and “Goths and Demons: A Halloween Spookfest” featuring popular fiction writers on October 23. Stonecoast’s Director Annie Finch said of the Reading Series, “Stonecoast MFA has long wanted to start a reading series in order to give something back to this inspiring, creative community. Our tenth anniversary is the perfect time to launch, and Robin Talbot has developed a fabulous, must-see kickoff event.”

The Stonecoast Reading Series kickoff event will take place at 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 27 at Local Sprouts on 649 Congress St. in Portland.

For further announcements and a schedule of upcoming events in the Stonecoast Reading Series visit the Stonecoast MFA website at

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Stonecoast Faculty Member Nancy Holder blogs about community and how she stays connected to Alumni.

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Blog

By Nancy Holder

When I first started teaching at Stonecoast, I wondered if I would feel like part of a community, since I would only see the other faculty members and students twice a year. After having taught in the lit department at the University of California at San Diego, I figured I would miss the mingling—passing students in the halls and seeing them during office hours.

I did remind myself that I’ve worked for years with editors I’ve never met in person, and I’ve done a substantial amount of online teaching and never met any of those students. But I knew it would be different as a faculty member of an intensive low-residency program, where I would only see other Stonecoasters every January and July.

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