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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 https://cms.usm.maine.edu/stonecoastmfa.

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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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