Stonecoast MFA educates and inspires creative writers and storytellers through a two-year graduate writing program in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and popular fiction. Central to Stonecoast’s ethos is the knowledge that by educating writers we are empowering the literary citizens who will reimagine and reshape the world we share. The Writing for Inclusivity and Social Equity (WISE) initiative ensures that students are prepared to address and overcome society’s most persistent social problems.
WISE is at the very core of Stonecoast--it is both the manifestation of the program’s values and a covenant with our community. At each residency faculty and guests lead seminars and presentations introducing new writers, exploring new ways to think about advocacy and impact. By offering a broad slate of programming across all genres, students develop a sense of the literary landscape which reflects the rich diversity of the written word. Each summer, a WISE scholar is invited to deliver a keynote lecture and seminar. When our students and faculty are interested in making a deeper exploration of an idea, theme, or genre, they can create a space for that learning in the form of an elective workshop. Finally, because learning is not limited to the classroom, at every residency our graduating students give a public presentation on the scholarly and community-based work they completed to fulfill part of their third semester requirements. Students who enroll in Stonecoast find that the program changes their relationship to their work and, in time, their work will reshape the program.
Below are just two of our WISE initiatives:
The Task Before US
One evening during each summer residency, Stonecoast dedicates an evening symposium to explore the role of the writer in confronting a specific social conflict. We call these talks, The Task Before Us. These discussions allow students to see the manner in which writers deconstruct concepts of culture, race, faith, ethnicity, privilege, oppression, institutional racism, trauma, and social justice all within the context of creative writing. Most recently, David Mura discussed his book, A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing.
The Stories We Carry
In the tradition of The Moth and Story Collider, Stonecoast has developed a series of video interviews highlighting the power personal stories have to shape our sense of self. Digital storytelling is essential in a 21st century writing curriculum. The Stories We Carry was developed as part of Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks, & Pathway, an exhibition of over 70 community and institutional organizations statewide sponsored by the Maine College of the Arts.
Stonecoast’s students and alumni are the best ambassadors for the program and our inspiration. Students like Cody Mower, a second semester student who, with support from the Maine Humanities Council, teaches a trauma-focused writing workshop for Maine Veterans.
Or Joseph Jackson (Stonecoast ’16, L), the leader of Maine Inside Out, who credits Stonecoast as the place where he “develop[ed] the skills to connect with and develop relationships with folks from diverse backgrounds. Those connections continue to guide my work and mission to advocate for prison reform for system impacted folks, while also challenging institutional racism at the highest levels in our State."
As a centerpiece of Stonecoast curriculum, WISE initiatives prepare students to be thoughtful, curious, and empathetic about the lived experiences of the citizens of this planet.