Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Breena Clarke

Fiction
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Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office: 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04103

Phone

Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • BFA in Teather Arts, Howard University

Profile

Breena Clarke (Fiction) is the author three novels, most recently completed, Angels Make Their Hope Here, set in an imagined mixed-race community in 19th century New Jersey. Breena Clarke's debut novel, River, Cross My Heart, was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Ms. Clarke is the recipient of the 1999 award for fiction by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and the Alex Award, given by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Her critically reviewed second novel, Stand The Storm, is set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C.

Breena, who has survived the death of her only child, writes with depth and clarity about grief. Her work is marked by compassion and magnificent use of language. Fascinated by the vast array of small and insignificant objects that contain finely detailed denigrating images of African-Americans, Breena is a passionate collector of Black Memorabilia. A graduate of Howard University, Breena Clarke is a co-author with Glenda Dickerson of Remembering Aunt Jemima: A Menstrual Show, which is anthologized in Contemporary Plays by Women of Color, edited by Kathy Perkins and Roberta Uno and Colored Contradictions, An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Plays, edited by Harry Elam, Jr. and Robert Alexander. Her short fiction is included in Black Silk, A Collection of African American Erotica, and Street Lights: Illuminating Tales of the Urban Black Experience. Her recollections of Washington, D.C. her hometown, are included in Growing Up In Washington, D.C., An Oral History, published by The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Research Interests

Keenly interested in fiction that speculates and revises the history of settlement in The Americas.

Recent Publications

Angels Make Thier Hope Here, 2014, Little, Brown & Company

Stand the Storm, 2008, Little Brown & Company

River, Cross My Heart, 1999, Little, Brown & Company

 

Presentations

The Bottom Rails Are on Top Now: Are Afro-futurist, sci-fi authors building a plausible non-white universe?

Inspired by Octavia Butler’s groundbreaking and enduring impact on the science fiction genre, some African-Identified, African Diaspora and South Asian authors are speculating a darker future. The future decades and centuries of these fictions have fewer white people and little or no white supremacy, agency or ascendancy. Are the authors who thus speculate darkly having an impact on the genres of historical, science and fantasy fiction? Are they drawing upon a historic belief that any imagined future will be better than an enslaved, colonial or apartheid present or past? I suggest a lively discussion of science fiction, afro-futurism, and speculative fiction and building a non-white or non-racial world.

 

Hail the Sagacity of Old Women!

Hail the sagacity of old women! Three novels by three distinguished, critically acclaimed women fiction writers were published in the last year.  The class will discuss in depth Marilynne Robinson’s “Lila”, Joyce Carol Oates’ “The Sacrifice” and Toni Morrison’s “God Help The Child” and the ways these novels record, elucidate and critique the lives of contemporary women. These three recent novels, written by three prolific literary women fiction writers have set gender, color identity, economic class and the intersection of these elements dead center in the American landscape. The three novels explicate childhood, motherhood, girlhood, and womanhood, in the hood and in the country and in the small towns all over America. These venerable fiction titans use breathtaking suspense; skillfully execute their novel’s themes; and, in each case, write a good story. Though not didactic, each novel offers a social justice reading of contemporary American life. Robinson, Oates and Morrison give us the benefit of their long lives and long careers as writers with these important contemporary novels. They are looking at America with their keen, incisive, clever, and old and woman eyes.  Their very different characters are all women who “talk back” and “speak up”. We will discuss “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson, “The Sacrifice” by Joyce Carol Oates and “God Help The Child” by Toni Morrison as works of literary fiction and as documentaries of feminist writing and social justice. All three novels are required reading.

 

Creative Activity

Founder and director of Narratives Performing Company which produced a special anniversary reading of Remembering Aunt Jemima: A Menstrual Show at Judson Church in Manhattan, New York in 2015.