Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Susan Conley

Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Writing for Social Change

Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office: 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04103


Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • MFA, San Diego State University
  • BA, Middlebury College


Susan is the author of the novel, Elsey Come Home (Knopf 2019), which delves into the far corners of addiction, marriage, and motherhood. Her memoir The Foremost Good Fortune was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick, an Entertainment Weekly Memoir to Read, and the winner of the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her novel Paris Was the Place was a People Magazine Top Pick, a Slate Magazine Summer Read, an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection and a Boston Globe Top Pick. Her third book, the poetry and photography collaboration Stop Here This is the Place, was a Real Simple Magazine Must Read and won the Maine Literary Award for Publishing Excellence.

Susan has received grants and fellowships from The Macdowell Colony, The Breadloaf Writers Conference, The Maine Arts Commission, and The Massachusetts Arts Commission. She was the Maine Literary Fellow for 2016.

Other work has appeared in magazines including The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, Ploughshares, The North American Review, The Harvard Review, The Virginia Quarterly, The Three Penny Review, The New England Review, Witness, Downeast Magazine, Middlebury Magazine, and Omnivoracious.

She's taught creative writing and literature at colleges including Colby College, the University of Maine at Farmington, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where she was awarded the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship.

Susan was raised in rural Maine, and after several years in California, Boston, and Beijing, she now lives in Portland (Maine) with her husband and two sons, where she is a founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing center serving 4,000 Maine students annually. The Telling Room is guided by a belief in social justice and the understanding that when children have access to their own stories, their lives are changed as well as the communities they live in.

Areas of Scholarship

Contemporary literary fiction

Personal essay


American Literature

Contemporary poetry

Social Justice and Arts Education

Hybrid Forms

Narrative Medicine

Recent Publications

Elsey Come Home, a novel (Knopf 2019)

Stop Here This is the Place, a poetry/photography collaboration (Downeast Books 2016)

Paris Was the Place, a novel (Knopf 2013)

The Foremost Good Fortune, a memoir (Knopf 2010)

Book Excerpts in O Magazine Online, The Daily Beast, The New York Times Magazine and She Writes.


American Library Association Annual Conference

TED Talk: Engage

Maine Festival of the Book

Brattleboro Literary Festival

Stanford University Canary Foundation

Maine Women’s Fund Annual Conference

Maine Cancer Foundation’s Annual Conference

Maine Publishers and Writers Alliance "Poetry and War Seminar.”

Creative Activity

I am currently working on a novel set on the coast of Maine that follows two teenage boys and their mother and father through the collapse of ground fishing and hip-hop and vaping. It's a novel that explores gender and motherhood and addiction and marriage. 

Awards and Recognition

Two MacDowell Colony Fellowships

Broadloaf Writers Conference Fellowship

Massachusetts Arts Council Fellowship

Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship, UMASS Lowell

Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellowship

Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection

Maine Literary Award for Publishing Excellence

Maine Literary Award for Memoir

Portland Press Herald’s “Women to Watch in Maine” Award