Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Stonecoast in Ireland Curriculum

Stonecoast in Ireland Curriculum:

During each summer residency in Ireland, Stonecoast students participate in the following:

  • Ten intensive workshops (each with a maximum of 5 to 6 students) that engage students in critical, supportive discussions of their own work and issues of craft, literature, and aesthetics.  Workshops are tailored to the needs of the ten students attending each residency; sometimes, workshops have a specific concentration (advanced fiction workshop, poetry workshop, creative nonfiction workshop, or popular fiction workshop) and sometimes mixed-genre workshops are created (in which each student submits work in their own genre)
  • Classes and panels by Stonecoast faculty on various writing-related topics
  • Readings by Stonecoast faculty and a special public reading for students as the grand finale of the residency
  • Fifteen-minute “flash seminars” presented by students on Irish writers of their choice.  These are optional but most students choose to do them, and they have proved a great success.  A list of Irish books is provided at the beginning of the term and staff are always glad to help recommend specific authors.
  • A day-long field trip to places of literary interest, cultural value, and spectacular beauty.  In the past, this has included a talk on the writers of the Blasket renaissance and then a trip out to the breathtaking Great Blasket Island.
  • Conferences with faculty mentors to establish a study plan and sequence of readings for the coming semester.  These are done by phone or email if the selected mentor is in the U.S. or one-to-one if the student and mentor are both in Ireland.
  • Social and literary gatherings that promote a sense of community among writers.


Sample Presentations


The Writers of the Great Blasket Island (Field trip)

Students visit the Blasket Island Centre in the morning and then—weather permitting—to take a boat trip to the Great Blasket Island in the afternoon.

At the Blasket Island Centre, students will be introduced to the writers of “the Blasket Renaissance”—fifty books were written on the island over the course of fifty years, a remarkable feat when one realizes that the population was never higher than about one hundred and fifty. Particular attention will be paid to Tomás O’Crohan, Peig Sayers, Maurice O’Sullivan, Micheál Ó Guiheen, and Eibhlís Ní Shúilleabháin. After eating lunch at the Centre, we plan to travel to the Great Blasket and explore the deserted village and the rugged island.

Required Reading:

Tomás O’Crohan, The Islandman; Peig Sayers, Peig; Eibhlís Ní Shúilleabháin, Letters from the Great Blasket

Harry Clifton—A Master Class in Writing
Poet, short story writer, and nonfiction writer Harry Clifton will talk about beginnings, wrong turnings, and putting together the first draft of a text. He will speak about how one decides what genre best suits a particular work, and he will examine in particular the composition of his collection of poems The Walls of Carthage. Clifton, a native Dubliner who currently teaches at University College Dublin, is the winner of this year’s Irish Times / Poetry Now award.

Required Reading:

Choose at least one book by Harry Clifton. Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks: Poems 1994-2004 is published in the U.S. by Wake Forest and is highly recommended. Harder to find in the U.S. but fair game are his collection of short stories, Berkeley’s Telephone and Other Stories, or his nonfiction account of a year spent in the Abruzzo mountains, On the Spine of Italy.