Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing
The Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing is a graduate program in creative writing based at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine, United States. Stonecoast enrolls approximately 100 students in four major genres: creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and popular fiction. Other areas of student interest, including literary translation, performance, writing for stage and screen, writing Nature, and cross-genre writing, are pursued as elective options. Students also choose one track that focuses an intensive research project in their third semester from among these categories: craft, creative collaboration, literary theory, publishing, social justice/community service, and teaching/pedagogy. Stonecoast is one of only two graduate creative writing programs in the country offering a degree in popular fiction. It is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The Stonecoast MFA program is a low-residency program. Ten-day residencies for students, faculty, and visiting writers are held each January and June at the Stone House in Wolfe's Neck Wood State Park on the coast near Freeport, Maine. Each semester, a group of ten students also goes to Ireland for a smaller residency. Residencies involve an intensive schedule of workshops, classes, readings, and gatherings. The rest of a student's academic work during the two-year program is pursued on a one-on-one basis under the leadership of a faculty mentor.
Founded in 2002 by Barbara Lee Hope, Ken Rosen, and Dianne Benedict, Stonecoast is one of the oldest and best-known of the second wave of low-residency graduate programs in creative writing, following on the first wave of the Warren Wilson, Goddard, and Bennington graduate programs. Stonecoast has departed from its predecessor programs in a number of significant ways including more flexibility in cross-genre work, more student input into mentor choice and curriculum, seminar-style classes as opposed to lectures, and more flexibility in third-semester projects. The program received coverage in The Atlantic Monthly feature on MFA programs focusing in particular on its Ireland residency and popular fiction component. Other innovative curricular features include a foundation workshop in poetic meter for incoming poets and student-initiated elective workshops on special topics in writing.
Stonecoast has been ranked consistently among the "Top Ten Low-Residency Programs" by Poets and Writers Magazine.
- 1980 The Stonecoast Summer Writers’ Conference founded at University of Southern Maine
- 2002 The Stonecoast Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing is developed
- 2004 Poet Annie Finch hired as Director
- 2005 Stonecoast in Ireland program launched
- 2011 Stonecoast is ranked among the "Top Ten Low-Residency MFA Programs" in the first set of low-residency rankings by Poets and Writers magazine.
The Stonecoast MFA faculty has won numerous awards including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts grants, Astraea[disambiguation needed], Hugo, Lambda, and Hurston/Wright Legacy awards, a Lannan Foundation Grant, the American Book Award, and the Whiting Writer’s Award. Visiting writers and past faculty have included publishers Jonathan Galassi, Kate Gale, and April Ossmann, novelists Jeffrey Ford, Ray Gonzalez, Tayari Jones, Kelly Link, and Leslea Newman, literary scholars Christopher Ricks and Marie Borroff, social critic James Howard Kunstler, storyteller Gioia Timpanelli, and poets Maxine Kumin, Marilyn Nelson, Ted Kooser, Joan Retallack, Alicia Ostriker, and Reginald Shepherd. Current faculty include Tony Barnstone, Rick Bass, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Sarah Braunstein, Breena Clarke, Jaed Muncharoen Coffin, Susan Conley, Ted Deppe, Carolina De Robertis, Boman Desai, David Anthony Durham, Martín Espada, Theodora Goss,Aaron Hamburger, Elizabeth Hand, Nancy Holder, Barbara Hurd, Cait Johnson, James Patrick Kelly, Michael Kimball, Debra Marquart, David Mura, Alexs Pate, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Eléna Rivera, Elizabeth Searle, Tim Seibles, and Suzanne Strempek Shea.
Stonecoast MFA alumni include Cave Canem Prize Winner Indigo Moor; Rona Jaffe Award winner Melanie Drane; National Poetry Series winner and National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith; and novelists Diane Les Becquets, Alexs Pate, Morgan Callan Rogers, and Colin Sargent; produced film and television writers Debbie Daughetee, Mike Langworthy, Matthew Quinn Martin and Bix Skahill; popular fiction writers Patrick Bagley, Libby Cudmore, Laura Navarre, Michaela Roessner-Herman, Kevin St. Jarre, and J. M. McDermott; poets Roger Bonair-Agard, Cindy Gutierrez, Jeanette Lynes, Nylah Lyman, Josh Davis, and Karrie Waarala; and creative nonfiction writers Jaed Munchaeroen Coffin, Kim Dana Kupperman and Penelope Schwartz Robinson (winner of the Stonecoast Book Prize judged by Katha Pollitt).
The Stonecoast Alumni Association, open to all Stonecoast alumni, sponsors readings and literary events around the country. The SCAA maintains the Stonecoast Community Blog.
- The Free Press Online: The University of Southern Maine's Newspaper > USM's Stonecoast MFA Experiences Changes > By Erik Eisele > Issue date: 9/20/04 Section: News The Free Press Online
- The Atlantic Monthly > August 2007 > Where Great Writers Are Made: Assessing America's Top Graduate Writing Programs By Edward J.Delaney
- The Free Press Online: The University of Southern Maine's Newspaper > USM's Stonecoast MFA Experiences Changes > By Erik Eisele > Issue date: 9/20/04 Section: News
- The Free Press Online: The University of Southern Maine's Newspaper > USM's Stonecoast MFA Experiences Changes > By Erik Eisele > Issue date: 9/20/04 Section: News Free Press online
- Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing > Faculty
- University of Southern Maine > Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program Website
- NewPages.com: Good Reading Starts Here: Creative Writing Programs List