Writing for Social Change Faculty
Rick Bass is the author of over twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Winter, The Deer Pasture, Wild to the Heart, and The Book of Yaak. His first short story collection, The Watch, set in Texas, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award, and his 2002 collection, The Hermit’s Story, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Bass’s stories have also been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award and have been collected in The Best American Short Stories. He was a finalist for the Story Prize in 2007 for his short story collection The Lives of Rocks and for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography for Why I Came West (2008). He lives in the Yaak Valley in Montana, where he serves on the board of the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies.
Sarah Braunstein is the author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children (W.W. Norton). The novel was a finalist for the 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, and won the 2012 Maine Book Award for Fiction. In 2010 she was named one of “5 Under 35” fiction writers by the National Book Foundation, and she received a 2007 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Ploughshares, Post Road, The Sun, Nylon Magazine, Maine Magazine, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. She co-wrote a play, String Theory: Three Greek Myths Woven Together, which was produced in New York City in 2009 and at Vassar College in 2010. Sarah teaches at Harvard University Extension School and is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at Colby College. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work.
Breena Clarke is the author of two historical novels set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Her debut novel, River, Cross My Heart (1999) was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Clarke’s critically reviewed second novel, Stand the Storm, is set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C. and was chosen by the Washington Post Book Review as one of 100 best for 2008. She is a graduate (B.F.A.) of Howard University. Breena Clarke is co-author with Glenda Dickerson of the play Remembering Aunt Jemina: A Menstrual Show, anthologized in Contemporary Plays by Women of Color and Colored Contradictions, An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Plays. Her short fiction is included in Black Silk, A Collection of African American Erotica, and Street Lights: Illuminating Tales of the Urban Black Experience. Breena Clarke is an advisor to the board of A Room of Her Own Foundation and has offered writing workshops at AROHO retreats at Ghost Ranch in 2003, 2005 and 2011. She has recently completed a novel that is set in a mixed-race community in 19th century New Jersey
Jaed Muncharoen Coffin is the author of the memoir A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants (Da Capo Press/ Perseus 08) which chronicles the time he spent as a Buddhist monk in his mother's native village in Thailand. Reviewed in The Los Angeles Times and in a cover story in the Boston Globe, A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants is now taught in the multicultural curriculum at several colleges and universities including Brown, St. Michael's, Middlebury, and University of Maine, Farmington. Jaed was recently honored as a resident fellow at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, where he researched his forthcoming novel, Roughhouse Friday (based on his career as the middleweight champion of an Alaskan barroom boxing circuit). A recipient of a Maine Literary Award, a Ron Brown Fellowship, and a Meyer Grant, Jaed has recently accepted fellowships at The Breadloaf School of English and Franklin & Marshall’s 2009 Emerging Writers Festival. A native of Brunswick, Jaed holds a BA in Philosophy from Middlebury College and an MFA in Fiction from Stonecoast. He now lives in Portland, Maine.
Susan Conley’s memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf 2011), was excerpted in the New York Times Magazine and the Daily Beast. It was anOprah Magazine Top Ten Pick of the Month, a Slate Magazine“Book of the Week” and a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Award. It won the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Other work of hers has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post, Ploughshares, The Harvard Reviewand elsewhere. She’s received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Breadloaf Writers Conference, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. A former faculty member at Emerson College, she was also a longtime editor at Plougshares. She has taught at Colby College and Simmons College and is currently the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She’s also the co-founder of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing lab in Portland, Maine, where she leads workshops. Her novel, Paris Was the Place, is forthcoming with Knopf in August of 2013.
Martín Espada called “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry (Norton, 2006) received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other poetry collections include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990). He has received other recognition such as the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Robert Creeley Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former tenant lawyer, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
David Mura is a creative nonfiction writer, poet, fiction writer, critic, playwright and performance artist. Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (Grove-Atlantic), which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity (Anchor). His three books of poetry are Angels for the Burning (Boa), The Colors of Desire(Anchor, Carl Sandburg Literary Award), and, After We Lost Our Way (Carnegie Mellon), which won the 1989 National Poetry Series Contest. His book of critical essays is Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity (U. of Michigan Press). His novel, Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire, a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the John Gardner Fiction Prize and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award, was published in Sept. 2008 from Coffee House Press. Mura's essays on race and multiculturalism have appeared in Mother Jones and The New York Times. His plays include Secret Colors (with novelist Alexs Pate), The Winged Seed, adapted from Li-Young Lee's memoir, and After Hours (with actor Kelvin Han Yee and pianist Jon Jang).
Alexs Pate is the author of five novels including the New York Times Bestseller Amistad, commissioned by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks/SKG and based on the screenplay by David Franzoni. Other novels include Losing Absalom, Finding Makeba, The Multicultiboho Sideshow and West of Rehoboth, which was selected as “Honor Fiction Book” for 2002 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Alexs’s first book of nonfiction, In The Heart of the Beat: The Poetry of Rap was published by Scarecrow Press January 2010. His memoir, The Past is Perfect: Memoir of a Father/Son Reunion will be published next year by Coffee House Press. An excerpt of the memoir appears in the Fall 2007 edition of Black Renaissance Noire. Alexs’s poetry collection, Innocent, was published in 1998. Alexs is an Assistant Professor in African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches courses in writing and black literature, including a course on “The Poetry of Rap.” He is currently at work on two novels, The Slide and a story about a black pirate captain, Adventures of the Black Arrow: Search for Libertalia.