Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Celebrations and New Beginnings

Writers to Watch
I used to believe that good writers should be able to describe anything and everything in language. There are words for all experiences: the birth of a child, the loss of a parent, the feeling of flying in a dream. But I know now that some experiences defy description, and the mix of my emotions during our recent MFA graduate reading is one of them. To say I was proud doesn’t come close. I know what it took for these writers to finish their theses and graduate from the program. I know how hard they worked on their writing, how many long nights and early mornings it took to finish the cascade of weekly assignments, how many books and articles and essays they read, to the point of needing new glasses (or maybe that’s just me). Most important of all, I know how much of their lives they dared to reveal in their work.


Listening to our graduates read from their honest and beautiful work, I found myself in the presence of what the writer Mary Karr calls “the sacred creative” – a moment sanctified by art and by truth. And that still doesn’t describe it. Fortunately, you don’t have to wonder; you can experience it for yourself. We video recorded the event, which you can watch here. You can also browse our photo gallery here. And please join me in congratulating the MFA class of 2019:  Kate Anderson, Mary-Warren Bartlett, Karen Bellavance-Grace, Freda Brackley, Christine Brooks, Andy Castillo, L’Tanya Durante, Sarah Gallagher, Nicole Hamer, Jim Henry, Naomi Kooker, Jon Nichols, Melina Rudman, and Maria Smith.  Hats off to all!


New MFA faculty member        
We are very pleased to announce new MFA faculty member Jennifer DeLeon, who joined us this May to teach a course she developed for the program: “Reading and Writing about Identity, Race, and Culture.”  Jennifer, the editor of Wise Latinas (University of Nebraska Press), was named the 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence by the Associates of the Boston Public Library and has published in Ploughshares, Ms., Brevity, Poets & Writers, The Southeast Review, Guernica, Best Women’s Travel Writing, and elsewhere. Her essay, “The White Space,” originally selected as first place recipient of the Michael Steinberg Essay Prize and published in Fourth Genre, was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2013, edited by Cheryl Strayed. She was also named a 2016-2017 Artist-in-Residence by the City of Boston.

Born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents, Jennifer earned a master’s in teaching from the University of San Francisco’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice, and an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts–Boston. In addition to teaching in the Bay Path MFA, Jennifer teaches English at Framingham State University and creative writing at GrubStreet Independent Creative Writing Center. She maintains an active freelance writing, editing, and consulting practice, and travels the country speaking on issues of diversity, college access, and the power of story. Jennifer has published author interviews in Granta and Agni, and will be interviewed in our next MFA e-newsletter…stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Season, New Writing



Happy spring! The March equinox brings the usual flood of think pieces and articles about the arrival of spring, our biological clocks, and the curious relationship between weather and writing. One theory posits that writers should refrain from celebrating spring. Frigid, dark weather is good for us, maybe even necessary. Without it, we find ourselves lazing in the sunshine when we should be writing, our books and laptops and notebooks gathering dust on our desks. Would Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle have been written if he lived in Palm Springs? There would be no literature without seasonal misery.

This theory falls apart when you look at literature consistently produced in Los Angeles and Miami, in Mumbai and Mexico City and Nairobi—and in our creative nonfiction MFA this spring. It might be warmer outside, the sun beguiling, but our students, grads, and faculty are hard at work on their writing, creating compelling new essays and book reviews that are being published in magazines, newspapers, and journals like Yankee (“Big Night” by Loree Burns ’20); Brevity (Main Street Revisited by Amy Stonestrom ’18); Cleaver (“Adios to My Parents” by Kim Livingston ’20); The Forge (“How to Stay Silent in Twelve Steps” by Heidi Fettig Parton ’17); and the Daily Hampshire Gazette (“Overworked and Underpaid” by Andy Castillo ’19, who placed first in health reporting in the Better New England Newspaper Competition).

Kate Anderson ’19 picked up a first place award from Mythic March short story contest; Kim MacQueen ’18 was noted as a writer to watch in Noteworthy; and L’Tanya Durante ’20 has joined the editorial team of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. MFA faculty member Sophfronia Scott recently appeared at Harvard Book Store in celebration of a new anthology, On Being 40(ish), in which her essay, “I Don’t Have Time for This,” is featured; and Lisa Romeo, MFA faculty and thesis director, recently published an excellent craft essay, “Yes, You Can Write Memoir” in Open Center. Need any more convincing that spring is good for writers? Read graduate Anne Pinkerton’s celebration of early signs of spring, “All Flowers Keep the Light,” at her blog TrueScrawl.

And in the spirit of celebration, please join us for our MFA graduate reading on Friday, May 17, at 3:00 p.m. in the Hatch Learning Center on our Longmeadow campus. The event is open to all, and includes a post-reading reception. We also hope you’ll join us for these upcoming events:

  •         Sunday, April 14: Bay Path’s 18th Writers’ Day, featuring C. Flanagan Flynn, Shanaz Habib, and Jane Yolen
  •         Thursday, June 6: A reading and book signing at the Booklink bookstore in downtown Northampton with MFA faculty Karol Jackowski and former MFA instructor and Writers’ Day presenter T. Susan Chang
  •         August 3 – 10: Creative Writing Field Seminar in Dingle, Ireland, featuring Andre Dubus III, Mia Gallagher, Ann Hood, Elizabeth Peavy, Suzanne Strempek Shea and Tommy Shea, and yours truly. The seminar is open to all writers.
Finally, there are spring releases to look forward to. On my list are The Honey Bus: a Memoir of Loss, Courage, and a Girl Saved by Bees, by San Francisco Chronicle journalist Meredith May; and Women Talking by Canadian writer Miriam Toews. What’s on your list?



Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Wrap-up


The fall semester is coming to a close, the holidays are here, and 2018 will be a memory in less than two weeks. MFA students have turned in their final essays, thesis chapters, and papers; faculty have turned in their grades. For all these reasons, it’s time to celebrate, but for writers, “celebrate” doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the party circuit or dancing on rooftops (although dancing in the living room to Al Green is a favorite pastime of mine—try it sometime). After sleeping for about three days straight, the first thing that comes to mind for many of us is reading new books. In front of a fire with a mug of spiced tea, stretched out on the sofa, propped up in bed—this is the holiday dream of many a writer. 

With that vision dancing before us, we asked our faculty to tell us which new books top their list of “can’t wait to read”—read on to find out, and while you’re at it, think about your list. What books are you excited to read? Write and tell us! (And if all you can imagine reading after so much hard work this year is Goodnight, Moon, that’s fine, too. It might help you sleep.)

We also asked our MFA grads and students to forget modesty for once and share a boast: publications, new jobs, conferences and presentations. The list is long and impressive, and includes a Pushcart nomination and a tenure-track college teaching job (see below for the full list). Which brings us to the next point, about taking stock. Instead of the typical new year’s resolutions, we recommend an end-of-year congratulations. To yourself.  Life often hurtles by with little chance to stop and reflect about all the ways you’ve created something good in your life, and in the lives of others. All the ways you’ve moved a little closer to your dream. All the ways you’ve gotten smarter, wiser, more compassionate, more confident. Before you find yourself waking up in 2019, take five minutes to remember what you’ve done this year, and to give thanks to the person who made it possible. You. 

We’re excited about what’s ahead next year: a new MFA cohort starting in January (welcome, new students!); a fantastic lineup for our spring Writers’ Day; and a knockout faculty roster for our annual summer seminar in Ireland, which is already filling up. And, above all, more time to spend writing, reading, and talking about books.  Happy New Year, all.

Faculty Book Recommendations


Mel AllenThe Library Book by Susan Orlean and The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Adam Braver: The Friend by Sigrid Nuñez (winner of the 2018 National Book Award)
Leanna James BlackwellMilkman by Anna Burns (winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize) and The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Shahnaz HabibThe Wife's Tale by Aida Edemaria
Karol Jackowski: Becoming by Michelle Obama and In Pieces by Sally Field
Anna MantzarisKitchen Yarns by Ann Hood
Lisa RomeoThe Strange Case of Dr. Couney by Dawn Raffel
Sophfronia ScottCrazy Brave by Joy Harjo
Suzanne Strempek SheaGone So Long: A Novel by Andre Dubus III, Kitchen Yarns by Ann Hood, and Becoming by Michelle Obama
Tommy SheaIn Extremis – The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum and The Art Spirit by Robert Henri
Kate WhouleySummer by Karl Ove Knausgaard


MFA student and alum news

New jobs
Andy Castillo was hired as a full-time features writer at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Jon Nichols was hired as a tenure-track professor of English at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL, where he was introduced to a longtime faculty member, Kim Livingston, who happens to be a fellow student in the Bay Path MFA (but whom Jon had never met).
Anne Pinkerton ’16 was hired as digital strategy director and editor at Hampshire College. She beat out the other candidates not only on the strength of her résumé, but on the quality of writing in her literary blog, True Scrawl, which began in Kate Whouley’s publishing course.
Publications
Karen Bellavance Grace has been nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize for a personal essay she published in Forge Literary Magazine.

Christine Brooks published and/or has forthcoming a total of 12 new essays and poems in a variety of literary magazines and websites including The Cabinet of Heed (where Irish writer and Ireland seminar instructor Nuala O’Connor recently published as well); Riggwelter Press; Parhelion Magazine, Amethyst Review; and StorgyMagazine.

Sondra Kline published two new essays this year in the literary magazine  Six Hens and in Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, the publication founded and edited by creative nonfiction “guru” and Ireland seminar instructor Dinty W. Moore.
Suellen Meyers published two new essays this year in The Manifest-Station and in rkvry Quarterly Literary Journal in October.

Kara Noble ’18 was asked to join the editorial committee of The Icelandic Horse Quarterly and to write profiles for each issue (most recently a five-page spread about the nationwide breed evaluation program for Icelandic horses in the U.S.). She has also become a regular profile writer for Massachusetts Horse Magazine and a columnist for Southwoods Magazine, in addition to freelancing for the Springfield Republican and MassLive, where she wrote about Bob Dylan. (She thanks former MFA faculty member Mieke Bomman for her profile writing chops!)

Meredith O’Brien ‘17, following the publication of her book, Mr. Clark’s Big Band, has published in and is a contributing writer for The Mighty and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Connection website, where she writes about health topics. She is also a book reviewer for Forward Reviews and lecturer in journalism at Northeastern University.

Heidi Parton ’17 published a craft essay in Brevity Blog and a personal essay in The Rumpus.

Amy Stonestrom published a personal essay in Superstition Review, a flash nonfiction piece in Montana Mouthful, and another essay in Jenny Magazine for its Rock ‘n Roll Rebellion issue.

Conferences and Residencies

Anne Pinkerton ’16 recently attended HippoCamp 2018, the conference hosted by Hippocampus magazine, with MFA Director Leanna James Blackwell and former classmates and “forever friends” Heidi Parton ’17 and Kim MacQueen ’18, where they enjoyed MFA faculty member Lisa Romeo’s presentation on turning essays into a book. In addition, Anne was recently awarded a January 2019 writing residency by Straw Dog Writers Guild, where she will wrap up the finishing touches on her memoir manuscript, Were You Close?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Seminar in Ireland 2018

Morning writing workshops. Literary discussions over lunch. Afternoon writing time followed by tea and a talk. Readings before breaking for dinner. Set that daily schedule against the stunning seaside backdrop of Ireland’s acclaimed Dingle Peninsula. Populate it with a gifted group of Bay Path MFA students plus writers from the larger community, and a faculty including bestselling writers and poets from both the U.S. and Ireland. Stand back and revel in the resulting magic.


In a nutshell, that’s the annual Summer Writing Seminar in Ireland offered through Bay Path University’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction. This year’s week, which ran July 28 to Aug. 4, was no exception. Hailing from throughout the USA, our 21 participants studied with American writers Ann Hood, Dinty W. Moore, Suzanne Strempek Shea, and Tommy Shea, and Irish writers and poets Annie and Ted Deppe, Mia Gallagher, and Nuala O’Connor, along with guest speaker and musician Tommy Joe Lynch.


Days prior to the launch of her critically lauded latest novel, Becoming Belle, Nuala O’Connor traveled to County Kerry from Galway, returning to teach for the second time and offering a keynote titled “The Drowsy Swallow,” which focused on writing short fiction and nonfiction - fitting for a week in which many tried their hands (and pens) at flash. Ann Hood dissected the objective correlative, Ted Deppe reminded us that trouble is an element necessary in any successful story, Dinty Moore was serious about offering the keys to humor writing. Mia Gallagher sent us forth with wisdom on sitting through the pain in writing. And Suzanne Strempek Shea and Tommy Shea recreated their desk at home and talked about lessons learned from one another over three decades of sharing the same workspace.

"This week has changed my life as a writer,” said 2018 grad Pamela Estes. 

"My students were some of the most open, bravest, loveliest people I’ve taught,” noted faculty member Ann Hood. 

And MFA student Naomi Kooker had this final observation: "It’s hard to focus on one talk, one reading when the week was rich with wisdom.”


A reading by all participants in our top-floor classroom at An Diseart Centre for Spirituality and Culture closed another memorable week. 

We thank all who helped deliver those innumerable returns. And we look forward to meeting up again in Dingle next summer. Please join us for our fifth annual Summer Writing Seminar in Ireland. Watch this space for specific dates, which will fall somewhere between July 2017 and August 11, 2019. 



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Interview with the incomparable Tommy Shea

Listen in on this delightful conversation between Tommy Shea and Sandy Chmiel, in which Tommy, who will be teaching the Creative Nonfiction Writing I course in the MFA, shares his history as a writer, his memorable moments chasing stories, and his ear for the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

Can you tell us a little about your path to becoming a writer?
I was outside a church when I decided to be become a writer.
          Wait, that isn’t quite accurate.
          I was outside church in Springfield, MA selling newspapers. When I wasn’t selling them I was reading the sports sections. We sold newspapers from New York City to Boston, so many city and town names that if I read them aloud you’d swear I was reciting an Amtrak route.
          I had grown up wanting to be the first American Pope – I had a name picked out and everything, Pope Patrick I – or replace Mickey Mantle as the centerfielder of the New York Yankees.
          At 13, those plans were dashed against the rocks of reality.
          I liked girls and I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be at baseball.
          At a loss for what I was going to do for the rest of my life, it dawned on me – between the 9:15 and the 10:30 mass – I could become a sportswriter.
          The emphasis was on sports not so much writing.
          That would come later – when I discovered the work of Pete Hamill.
           He wrote for the New York Post, a very different newspaper back then. It had a female publisher and actually told the truth about Senator Joe McCarthy, when few media outlets did.
          Pete Hamill wrote a daily general interest column and he really mixed things up: writing about political chicanery, of course; boys returning from Vietnam not quite the same as they left; a poor neighborhood in its struggle to save the local firehouse; his father; what it was like to grow up poor.
          The following week it was different topics, but the same heart and soul.
          There was something about his sentences that made me want to write like him – or at least try.
           I’m still trying.
         
How do you get people to trust you with their stories?
 I’ve never found it hard to have people trust me.
          I have to think why that is.
          My mother always thought I’d be a priest because she thought I’d hear a good confession – and never repeat it.
          Hmm.
          Maybe because I never thought I was the story.
          I want to think I’m a good, attentive listener.
          I’m curious, I know that.
          I do believe people respond if you are truly interested.

          In my nearly 39 years as a newspaper reporter, I was in loads of situations where it could be – I don’t know if combative is the right word, but I’ve had my share of testy exchanges, scenes spilling with tension – but people still talked.
          Even if all they said was “no comment.’’
          That could say a lot.

          At the risk of repeating myself, I think most people just want to be heard. If you care about them – with thoughtful questions and real listening – I think they will trust you.
          That has been my experience.

You’ve written about everything from baseball to music to the Catholic Church abuse scandal. Is there a story that touched your heart more than any others?
I have been lucky– and I know it – to get to have covered the variety of stories I’ve covered.
          Newspapering allowed me this life. I wouldn’t have met my wife Suzanne if I weren’t a reporter. (We met when I was covering high school hockey…)
          But of all the stories, I guess the one that sticks out was one that involved the ongoing coverage of the murder of 12-year-old altar boy Danny Croteau.
          The only suspect in the murder was a Catholic priest. He was arrested 20 years after the murder for molesting two brothers named John and Paul (after the then Pope.)
          I started covering the story in the fall of 1991. So this might have been sometime in 1992, there was a new fact in the story – maybe another charge against Richard Lavigne - and I didn’t get the phone call confirming whatever it was until late. It could have been closing in on 10 p.m. Deadline was 11.
          I needed a reaction from the Croteau family. Called the house, no answer. Called one of their sons. He didn’t want to comment and I asked a question out of desperation: “Do you know where your parents are?’’
          He said they were at BINGO.
          St. Catherine of Siena is an inconvenient ride from downtown Springfield, not far as the crow flies, but too much stop-and-go with all the lights if you are in a hurry.
          When I got to the parish hall it was packed. I started looking for Mr. and Mrs. Croteau.
          I was pointed in every direction:
          He’s over there.
          She’s over here.
          The clock was ticking. It had to be at least 10:30. People were leaving.
          Finally, someone said look in the church.
          I did.
          The lights were so dim it was almost dark, but the sacristy was lit, and in the shadow of Jesus on the cross there was Carl Croteau, Danny’s father – kneeling at the altar, head bowed.
          No one knew he was there.
          It certainly wasn’t a show for me.   Whatever I asked, he answered.
          I rushed back to the paper, not quite blowing red lights, more like easing through them, pressing the gas harder than I usually do when the coast is clear.
          The story, I don’t remember the story or any of the details, just that I made the deadline.
          But I’ll never forget standing in the back in the twilight of that church, wondering what the deniers, liars and character assassins, priests, lawyers, spokespeople, the faithful flock, would think if they saw this: the father of a dead altar boy, humbled before his God, praying.
          It wasn’t for faith. Carl Croteau still had that.
          Remarkably.
         
          I was a witness.
          That’s what all writers are.

You have been a part of the MFA’s Summer Seminar in Ireland since it began. What makes the Dingle experience so memorable?
DINGLE.
          It is a place where confidence is built.
          And inspiration comes from people whose last names you might not even know (yet.)
          Work gets done.
          And you take it home with you. Where more work is done.
          The town is very pretty. The food is great – even at gas stations.
           The people are friendly and helpful.
          I think it is a place well worth the jet lag.

This fall you’ll be teaching Creative Nonfiction I in the MFA program. What about this class are you most looking forward to?
The easiest question!
          I can’t wait to read the work and talk about it until we are all hoarse.
          I know I can offer a tip or two. And present many examples of great creative nonfiction that we will dissect.
          Powerful topics know no boundaries.
         
You are a big music enthusiast. What are you currently listening to?
AH, Sandy, thanks for asking about music.

          What I’ve been listening to:

          Sam Baker: Mercy. He’s like this cross between folk singers John Prine and Townes Van Zandt. His voice isn’t probably for everybody – I love it, but I came to music through the Bob Dylan door.  Sam, who has some back-story, writes with the spareness of an Edward Hopper painting.

           Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air did an interview with Sam a few years ago. Listen in…



Congratulations, 2018 MFA graduates!


Summertime, and the living is easy—especially if you just finished a graduate program after completing 13 writing courses and a 100-page thesis. I’m hoping the members of our 2018 MFA graduating class are taking a deep breath before going on to the next great thing: finishing their books, publishing essays, teaching creative writing, editing for magazines, founding a literary center…the possibilities are as varied as they are. In the meantime, I’m still savoring the experience of hearing our writers read from their finished work at the MFA graduate reading and celebration, held in Hatch Library on May 11. The topics ranged from clandestine horse riding to adventure mountain climbing, from working as a harried school photographer to working in a hair-raising chimp research facility, from decorating a wildly inappropriate cake in a Catholic school contest to running a 26-mile marathon in the wake of a tragedy…and more.

All proving that one can write about anything under the sun and moon and make it interesting—if the writing is good. It was more than good. It was exhilarating, powerful, moving. And in the end, it silenced the room, as graduating student Amy Consolati read from her most recent work about battling cancer via a video she had recorded from her hospital bed.

Amy’s fierce, unexpectedly funny, and truthful reading that day reminded each of us in the room why we do what we do. Why we write. Why we teach. Why we tell stories. Writing helps us not only describe the world but grapple with it. It helps us navigate the shocks and upheavals of daily life. It helps us connect to one another when so much of contemporary society contrives to keep us isolated and alone, in our cars, in cubicles, in front of our screens. As long as we have literature, we are never alone.

Thank you, Amy Consolati, Pam Estes, Carolyn Free, Andrés Moral, Kim MacQueen, Kara Noble, and Andrea Prettyman, for showing us why writing matters—and pointing the way to the writers who will come after you. And deep thanks to the extraordinary MFA faculty who traveled many miles to give each student a personal introduction: Mel Allen, Adam Braver, Lisa Romeo, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Tommy Shea, and Kate Whouley. See the photo gallery for pictures of the reading and the celebration: we toasted, passed around slices of lemon cake, and shared more stories before heading over to the graduate Strawberries and Champagne celebration. A fitting end to a day of joy.



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Interview with travel writer Anna Mantzaris, newest MFA faculty member

We are delighted to welcome Anna Mantzaris to our MFA community as a faculty member teaching travel writing. In this intimate interview Anna, a California-based travel writer, talks about the genesis of her writing career, why travel is good for writers, and what she learned staying with a community of monks at a shukobo (temple) in Koyasan in the mountains of Japan. 

Can you tell us a little about your path to becoming a writer and how you got started in travel writing?
Probably, like many writers, I don’t know exactly when it started. I have boxes of writing dating back to elementary school (I haven’t been able to throw them away). I wrote a lot of weird, awful poems, short stories, letters, cartoons, plays, lists—everything as a kid. In college and graduate school, I studied and wrote primarily short stories. After graduating, I worked in book, newspaper, and magazine publishing and wrote and edited nonfiction. I think my first travel writing assignment came from Time Out. I went to Book Expo America in Los Angeles to network and walked away with a couple of assignments. I started contributing to guidebooks and writing articles, and then wrote some travel books and got into a lot of food and travel writing at that point.

How can travel be beneficial to writers of any genre?
I love this question. When I was an MFA student, one of my professors talked about how she had her husband drive her up and down Highway 1 in California when she felt blocked. That was a way she could start writing again. I’ve never been able to write in a car but changing my location and moving around has always inspired me. I often make lists of observations when I am on the road. When I was in Cuba the sounds were so incredible. I stood outside where we were staying for about an hour and wrote down everything I heard (music, dogs barking, cars starting up) and found myself with pages of notes to put to use. I think being out of your normal routine and comfort zone can jump-start new ideas. Taking away set parameters has always helped me feel creative.
For revision and edits, I do like being at home and on a schedule but when I am starting something new or feeling stuck, I like to be in an unfamiliar place. I also like to write in notebooks as opposed to on my computer when I travel.  Then I type everything up at night and do more writing from there. This semester we’ve talked a lot about how travel affects our writing and how taking away the safety net of home and routine can bring us to new places on the page.

Where have you traveled, and is there a place in particular that you found especially inspiring?
I feel very fortunate to have traveled around much of the United States. There isn’t a road trip I won’t take. Some of my favorite journeys have been closest to my home in San Francisco—towns like Petaluma, Bodega Bay, and Bolinas. I lived in Europe and spent time traveling the continent, including my family’s home country of Greece. Some of my favorite cities are Budapest, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Havana but I will go anywhere—small towns, suburbs, big cities.
One of my favorite trips was a solo journey I took to Koyasan in the mountains of Japan years ago. I took a tram to the top and stayed at a shukobo with Buddhist monks. The area is the home to Shingon school of Buddhism and home to dozens and dozens of temples that open their doors to overnight visitors. I think I stayed for about a week but it felt like a lifetime—in a good way. I roamed the Okunoin Cemetery and was humbled attending services with the monks. Because I was alone, they brought my meals—homemade tofu and beautifully prepared vegetables—to my room. It was truly magical to be in such a sacred place and feel so welcomed. It’s a trip I think about often.

What, in addition to writing and traveling, are your passions?
I am totally obsessed with our dog, a sweet little smooth fox terrier named Stella. Taking her to the park and on walks is a great way to break up my day working from home. She’s like a little clown and I can never get enough time with her. I also do a lot of writing with her on my lap.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m really excited to be a part of the Bay Path community. I have family in East Longmeadow and have always been familiar with the university and area. The students are incredible—hard working, kind, and inspiring. It’s great to see the amount of time and effort and they put into critiquing one another’s writing and the support they offer. There’s some really terrific writing happening. I am so thankful for the welcome and support I’ve received from the MFA program and everyone on staff at Bay Path. Since writing is so solitary it feels good to be part of such a thriving and creative community where so many good things are happening.