Stonecoast MFA Alumni are making a remarkable impact on the literary world and beyond. Here is just a sample of their creative success.
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Morgan Talty (2019)
Named one of Narrative’s “30 Below 30,” Morgan’s story collection Night of the Living Rez is forthcoming from Tin House Books (2022). His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, Narrative Magazine, LitHub, and elsewhere. A current Lit Event Fellow for Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance as well as a recent recipient of a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. Morgan is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation where he grew up, and is a writing consultant and college instructor who teaches courses in both English and Native American Studies. Learn more about Morgan.
Patricia Smith (2008)
Patricia is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize and Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist, was her Stonecoast MFA thesis work. Listen to her read from it here. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir. She is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Learn more about Patricia.
Alexs is the author of seven books, 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. He also edited Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota, published in 2015. Alexs is President and CEO of Innocent Technologies and creator of the Innocent Classroom. His latest book The Innocent Classroom: Dismantling Racial Bias for Children of Color was published by ASCD (August 2020). Learn more about Alexs.
Lady Zen (2014)
"A few years ago, I came to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for my last semester of study at Stonecoast with a few classmates for Poetry Week hosted by Jennifer Clement,” says Lady Zen. Now they are the owner of an LGBTQA+ nightclub that has become one of the hottest places in town to hang for highly creative types. Music, fashion, spoken word, dance--can all be found there. Lady Zen is not just a nightclub owner. They are an internationally known lyric fusion poet, music composer, and performance artist. She received a Community Service/Social Justice award through the University of Southern Maine. Learn more about Lady Zen.
Jennifer Clement (2013)
The first woman elected President of PEN International in 100 Years released her latest novel, Gun Love, in 2018. Jennifer has published multiple books, including Widow Basquiat. She was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship and the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for Prayers for the Stolen. She was also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Jen's favorite thing about Stonecoast? Working with Rick Bass. Learn more about Jennifer.
Mur Lafferty (2014)
Since receiving her MFA from Stonecoast, Mur has been inducted into the Podcaster Hall of Fame and is now celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast, Escape Pod. In 2017, she released Six Wakes, a clone murder mystery in space that was nominated for the 2018 Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards. Mur was a finalist for the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine and is a two-time winner of the Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina science fiction and fantasy authors. Learn more about Mur.
Diane Les Becquets (2005)
Diane built on her Stonecoast graduate thesis to write her bestseller, Breaking Wild which was selected by Kirkus as one of the ten most addictive books of the year. Her second novel, The Last Woman in the Forest (March 2019), was also published by Berkley, Penguin Random House. A Pen American fellowship recipient, Diane has received numerous writing awards, including the Colorado Book Award in Fiction. She has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and is a frequent speaker and lecturer across the country. "My entire world opened up for me after Stonecoast" says Diane. "That was the turning point, and I am forever grateful." Learn more about Diane.
Jaed Coffin is the author of the memoirs A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants and Roughhouse Friday. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Sun Magazine, Nautilus, Moth Radio Hour and TED Channel. A recipient of a Maine Literary Award, a Ron Brown Fellowship, and a Meyer Grant, Jaed is a regular contributor to Down East magazine and teaches writing at the University of New Hampshire. Learn more about Jaed.
Christin Geall (2007)
The Seattle Times said, Christin “might just be the M.F.K. fisher of flowers.” Christin is the author Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style. Here’s what she had to say. "I’ve built a fun if diverse career from my MFA: I teach, write, design, grow, photograph, and travel. I have learned I’m too restless to sit at a desk every day and too independent to work for anyone other than myself, so I’ve tried building a career that fits my personality and allows me to pursue my love of beauty—be that at the level of the sentence or in designs or images.” Learn more about Christin.
Joe Jackson (2016)
“Stonecoast imbued me with skills and confidence in my creative ability. One of my favorite things about Stonecoast was the nightly readings. I loved the process and craft of writing, as well as witnessing my peers produce extraordinary works. My experience at Stonecoast was nothing short of life-changing." Joe is the Director of Leadership Development for Maine Inside Out: a group founded in 2007 by three Maine women with backgrounds in radical social work, anti-racist community organizing, and theater. He is also the coordinator of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, a group that engages in direct advocacy on behalf of prisoners and their families. Joe’s poetry is published in Village Soup, programming for NAACP Martin Luther King events, and in the UMA Scholar and Bangor Daily News. His thesis, Black in Maine, was published in 2016.
Jacob Strunk (2007)
Since graduation, Jacob has focused his energy on filmmaking. His films have screened in competition and by invitation across the world. He was short-listed for both a Student Academy Award and the Pushcart Prize in fiction and has received filmmaking grants from Kodak and Fotokem. In addition to his personal work, his clients include Nerdist Industries, Legendary Pictures, Funny or Die, The Jim Henson Company, Mission Control Media, The Music Center, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. You catch him sipping pints with fellow Stonecoast alumni at Gritty’s or Joshua’s in Maine. Otherwise, you can find him in Los Angeles, where he lives in the Hollywood Hills with a few framed movie posters and the ghost of his cat, Stephen. Learn more about Jacob.
Alexandra Oliver (2012)
Alexandra is a Canadian poet, who won the Pat Lowther Award in 2014 for her collection Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway. In 2015, Alexandra released Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poems in Meter, which she co-edited with Annie Finch. Her writing can also be seen in such publications as Partisan, ARC Poetry, The Walrus, Canadian Notes, and Queries. Learn more about Alexandria.
Jeff Kass (2009)
Jeff teaches 10th Grade English and Creative Writing at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of Columbine: A True Crime Story (Ghost Road Press), the short story collection Knuckleheads, which earned Independent Publisher's Gold Medal for Best Short Fiction Collection of 2011, and the full-length poetry collection My Beautiful Hook-Nosed Beauty Queen Strut Wave in 2014. His favorites memories of Stonecoast include talking fiction with Lewis Robinson and Lesléa Newman and hanging with poets in the hotel lounge singing Motown favorites with the band while admiring Patricia Smith's encyclopedic recall of every song lyric known to humankind.