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.