Last February, a dream of the Stonecoast literary community came to fruition: to begin a reading series that would connect students, alumni, and faculty across the U.S. and beyond through the spoken word.
Now, students, faculty, and alumni living in the same regions of the country are coming together to share their writing with the people of their local communities.
The Stonecoast Reading Series started with a celebration of Black History Month and featured Stonecoast student and social activist, Lady Zen. In April, Stonecoast alumnus Richard Cambridge led an evening of poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month. By May the series expanded to Massachusetts where Newtonville Books, in Newton, MA celebrated Stonecoast’s 10-year anniversary with an event that featured alumni Eugenio Volpe, Cal Armistead, Richard Cambridge, Mihku Paul and was hosted by longtime Stonecoast fiction faculty member Elizabeth Searle. The Series has expanded to New York, Boston, the Southeast, and the Midwest. Soon, Stonecoast will host Reading Series Events across the entire country.
Each local reading series has its own local name (for example, Stonecoast Readings: Portland) and its own distinct flavor, determined by the literary character of its location. Faculty member Sarah Braunstein and alumnus Dave Patterson co-hosted an event at Local Sprouts, home to Stonecoast Readings: Portland. “It’s organic and communal,” Patterson said of the venue, “and a good place to do this sort of thing with a great mix of people, from alumni to innocent bystanders who didn't know what they were getting into.” Braunstein and Patterson both read fiction to fit the event theme “Stonecoast Stories” and Patterson performed ballads with his wife, as the music act, The High Spirits.
At the reading in May, Boston-area Stonecoasters gathered in the warm and friendly atmosphere of one of Boston's premiere indie Bookstores: Newtonville Books, co-owned by Stonecoast alum Mary Cotton. The audience for the event included Stonecoast MFA's original founding director, Lee Hope. “[We had] a rich variety of readers” host Elizabeth Searle said of the event. “A wonderful time was had by all.”
Stonecoast Readings are generally held on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 PM in February, April, June, August, and October. Future events will include “Writing Nature at Stonecoast: an Evening of Creative Nonfiction about Nature”, “Stonecoast Celebrates Poetry Week in Amherst, MA”, “Goths and Demons: A Halloween Spookfest,” and “A Night at the Theater, in Somerville, MA.” To find out about a Stonecoast Reading Series event in your area, visit http://www.usm.maine.edu/stonecoastmfa/stonecoast-reading-series