Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Stonecoast Joins MECA to Host The Stories We Carry, an Exploration of Migration & Meaning

In cooperation with Maine College of Art, Stonecoast MFA will host The Stories We Carry, an interactive community consideration of human migration in Maine, Thursday, October 18, 5:30-7:00 p.m., USM Glickman Library, Special Events Room, 7th Floor, on the Portland Campus.

Join us as we explore the meanings of migration and the ways storytelling preserves our histories, reconnects us to our origins, and informs our lives and work. How can we better understand displacement, exile, and the reinvention of home? How can storytelling help us make sense of our own and others’ experiences?

Special guests Reza Jalali, Nyamuon Nguany Machar, and Keita Whitten, each of whom journeyed to Maine seeking a new life, will reflect upon their personal migrations in light of our current cultural moment, including the growing presence of immigrants in Maine. The evening will also feature a screening of video shorts by filmmaker Allen Baldwin. Light refreshments will be provided.

Reza Jalali—writer, educator, and immigrant rights activist—has lived in Maine for over three decades. Originally from Iran, his books include Moon WatchersHomesick Mosque and Other Stories, and The Poets and the Assassin (a play). Reza has taught at the University of Southern Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary.

Nyamuon Nguany Machar is Regional Coordinator for Youth Move Maine, an advocacy organization empowering at-risk youth. She is a dedicated proponent of cultural competency and individual rights protection in mental health treatment. Active as a mentor, advocate, committee member, and poet in the South Sudanese community, Machar seeks to advance awareness of South Sudanese issues as well as foster connections to help South Sudan.

Keita Whitten created Redefining Therapy—a response to antiquated practices and beliefs held about mental wellness—based on her experiences in social work, community organizing, and community mental health. Raised during the 1960s in a single-parent, working-class household in New York City, Whitten moved to Maine in 1995, homeless and determined to provide a life for herself and her children away from street crime and drugs. Whitten earned her MSW degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine and has worked on hunger, poverty, and mental health issues in Portland.

The Stories We Carry is part of Making Migration Visible, MECA’s statewide fall arts and discussion series, bringing artists, scholars, and community members together to interrogate the role of migration in all our lives.