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 five books, including her most recent novel Landslide (Knopf ’21). She’s been awarded multiple MacDowell Colony Fellowships, as well as the Breadloaf Workshop Fellowship, the Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellowship, and the Massachusetts Art Commission Fellowship. 

Her novel Elsey Come Home, was a Most Anticipated/Best Book in 2019 at Oprah MagazineMarie Claire Magazine, Amazon Books, Pop SugarHuffington PostSouthern Living Magazine, FodorsLibrary Journal, Maine Women’s Magazine, and others. Her memoir The Foremost Good Fortune was the first book she published, and it was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick, an Entertainment Weekly Memoir to Read, and winner of the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her first novel Paris Was the Place came out after the memoir and was a People Magazine Top Pick, a Slate Magazine Summer Read, and an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection. Her third book was another animal: a poetry and photography collaboration called Stop Here This is the Place, which was a Real Simple Magazine Must Read.

Susan has won the Maine Literary Book Award and the Maine Award for Publishing Excellence, and her poetry collection was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewThe New York Times, The Harvard ReviewThe Daily Beast, The New England ReviewPloughshares and other publicationsHer Tedx talk on the “Power of Story” has been widely viewed. She is the co-founder of the Telling Room, a creative writing center for youth, and she's taught creative writing and literature at Colby College, Emerson College, The University of Maine, The University of Massachusetts, where she was awarded the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship, The Haystack School, and The Spannochia Foundation, where she leads annual writer’s retreats in Italy. 

Susan was raised in Maine, and after years in California, Boston, and Beijing, she lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two sons. She is a founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing center in Portland guided by a belief in social justice and the importance of teaching children the power of their stories.

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