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Catherine Burns and Tara Clancy of The Moth Are Coming to October 18 Writers Speak

tara clancyArtistic Director Catherine Burns and host/storyteller Tara Clancy of The Moth will be the next guests in the fall Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks, readings, and conversations open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. The program will include a reading and conversation followed by a Q&A session on Wednesday, October 18, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

The special Writers Speak program devoted to The Moth: True Stories Told Live will be preceded by an Open House and informational session at 5:30 p.m. for prospective MFA in Creative Writing candidates as well as writers interested in the Children’s Literature Fellows program. 

In Manhattan, at the new Southampton Arts campus at 535 Eighth Avenue, Sheehan and Manhattan Coordinator Alison Fairbrother will host an information session about the MFA in Creative Writing program on Monday, October 16, at 6 p.m.

All those interested in attending are asked to email rsvp_mfa@stonybrook.edu.

catherine burnsCatherine Burns is The Moth’s longtime Artistic Director. She is a frequent host and producer of the Peabody Award-winning “The Moth Radio Hour,” and the editor of both Moth story collections. She is the director of Edgar Oliver’s solo show Helen & Edgar, as well as Adam Gopnik’s The Gates. Originally from Alabama, Burns lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Tara Clancy’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation and The Paris Review Daily. She is a frequent host of The Moth Mainstage live shows, a Moth GrandSLAM winner, and has told stories on the “Moth Radio Hour,” NPR's “Snap Judgment,” “The Story Collider” and “Risk!” Her memoir, The Clancys of Queens, was published by Crown in 2016 and is a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick.

Poets Michelle Whittaker and Kimiko Hahn will be the final guest writers for the fall series, reading from their work on November 8. 

On December 6, the evening will be devoted to readings by “the stars of tomorrow”: students currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

At the Open House in Southampton on October 18, MFA in Creative Writing Director Julie Sheehan will discuss the MFA workshops in fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry, and more, all taught by distinguished working writers. Sheehan will also discuss teaching opportunities for MFA candidates.

For those interested in writing books for kids—from picture books and early readers to middle grade and young adult fiction—the October 18 Open House will include a presentation on the one-year Children's Literature Fellows program. Following the presentations and a Q&A, visitors can attend the Writers Speak reception at 6:30 p.m. to meet with current MFA candidates and stay for the reading and conversation featuring Burns and Clancy that follows at 7 p.m.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5030. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

Jennifer Gilmore Joins Writers Speak on October 11; Open Houses in Southampton and Manhattan

jennifer gilmoreNovelist Jennifer Gilmore will be the next guest in the fall Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks, readings, and conversations open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Gilmore will read from her work, followed by a Q&A session on Wednesday, October 11, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

On Wednesday, October 18, the Writers Speak program featuring Catherine Burns and Tara Clancy of The Moth will be preceded by an Open House and informational session at 5:30 p.m. for prospective MFA in Creative Writing and Literature candidates.

In Manhattan, at the new Southampton Arts campus at 535 Eighth Avenue, MFA in Creative Writing Director Julie Sheehan and Manhattan Coordinator Alison Fairbrother will host an information session about the MFA in Creative Writing program on Monday, October 16, at 6 p.m.

All those interested in attending are asked to email rsvp_mfa@stonybrook.edu.

Jennifer Gilmore is the author of three adult novels and one novel for teens, We Were Never Here. Her novels Something Red and Golden Country were named as New York Times Notable Books. Golden Country was also an Amazon Top Ten Debut Fiction of 2006, a finalist for the National jewish Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Gilmore’s most recent novel, The Mothers, is currently being adapted into a film for which she is an executive producer.

Gilmore’s work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Tin House, and Vogue. She received a MacDowell Fellowship, and has taught creative writing at various institutions including Barnard College, Sarah Lawrence College, Cornell University, the New School, NYU, Princeton University, and Harvard University. She currently teaches at Fordham University and lives in Easton, PA with her husband and son, and her dog, Snowy.

Other programs scheduled for the fall series include: a reading and conversation featuring Tara Clancy and Catherine Burns of The Moth, October 18; and poets Michelle Whittaker and Kimiko Hahn, November 8. 

On December 6, the evening will be devoted to readings by “the stars of tomorrow”: students currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

At the Open House in Southampton on October 18, Director Julie Sheehan will discuss the MFA workshops in fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry, and more, all taught by distinguished working writers. Sheehan will also discuss teaching opportunities for MFA candidates.

For those interested in writing books for kids—from picture books and early readers to middle grade and young adult fiction—the October 18 Open House will include a presentation on the one-year Children's Literature Fellows program. Following the information session, visitors can attend the Writers Speak reception at 6:30 p.m. to meet with current MFA candidates and stay for the reading and conversation featuring Burns and Clancy that follows at 7 p.m.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5028. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

Katha Pollitt Talks with TSR's Emily Gilbert at October 4 Writers Speak

katha pollitt
Katha Pollitt.    Photo by Christina Pabst

Poet and essayist Katha Pollitt will be the next guest in the fall Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks, readings, and conversations open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Pollitt will read from and talk about her work with Southampton Review Managing Editor Emily Gilbert on Wednesday, October 4, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

Looking ahead, on Wednesday, October 18, the Writers Speak program featuring Catherine Burns and Tara Clancy of The Moth will be preceded by an Open House and informational session at 5:30 p.m. for prospective MFA in Creative Writing and Literature candidates.

In Manhattan, at the new Southampton Arts campus at 535 Eighth Avenue, MFA in Creative Writing Director Julie Sheehan and Manhattan Coordinator Alison Fairbrother will host an information session about the MFA in Creative Writing program on Monday, October 16, at 6 p.m.

All those interested in attending either information session are asked to email rsvp_mfa@stonybrook.edu.

Katha Pollitt writes the column "Subject to Debate" for The Nation, which won the National Magazine Award for Columns in Commentary in 2003, and a Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2013. Also an esteemed poet and essayist, Pollitt has won a National Book Critics Circle award in Poetry, and multiple National Magazine awards for her essays. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in poetry.

Most recently, Pollitt published the book Pro:Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which was listed as a Notable Book of 2014 by The New York Times. Her other work includes a collection of essays, Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories, as well as a book of poetry, The Mind-Body Problem. Pollitt resides in New York City.

emily gilbert
Emily Gilbert

Emily Gilbert is the Managing Editor at The Southampton Review. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews have appeared in Consequence Online, The Greensboro Review, TSR: The Southampton Review, and the Waterhouse Review, among others. She has a BA from Bard College and an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton.

Other writers scheduled for the fall series include: Jennifer Gilmore, October 11; a reading and conversation featuring Tara Clancy and Catherine Burns of The Moth, October 18; and poets Michelle Whittaker and Kimiko Hahn, November 8. 

On December 6, the evening will be devoted to readings by "the stars of tomorrow": students currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

At the Open House in Southampton on October 18, Director Julie Sheehan will discuss the MFA workshops in fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry, and more, all taught by distinguished working writers. Sheehan will also discuss teaching opportunities for MFA candidates.

For those interested in writing books for kids—from picture books and early readers to middle grade and young adult fiction—the October 18 Open House will include a presentation on the one-year Children's Literature Fellows program. Following the presentations and Q & A, visitors can attend the Writers Speak reception at 6:30 p.m. to meet with current MFA candidates and stay for the reading and conversation featuring Burns and Clancy that follows at 7 p.m.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5030. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

The Southampton Review is extremely pleased to announce the launch of TSR Online

TSR Online logoby Molly Touger

Unveiled in July, TSR Online showcases exclusive works that are generally shorter than those in the print journal; prose pieces must clock in at 3,000 words or fewer. The online journal also features original poetry and photography.

The only overlap with the print version of  TSR are reprints of classic pieces—to provide a wider audience for works that have previously appeared in print—and quality.

"The bottom line is that the stuff has to be good," said Managing Editor Emily Gilbert, a former Southampton MFA graduate who brought this virtual venture to life. "We want to reach the widest number of people possible."

"I'm thrilled Emily spearheaded the effort to get TSR Online up and running," said Lou Ann Walker, who serves as Editor-in-Chief of both the print and online journals.  

"The site had been a dream of mine ever since we launched the first issues of the print edition in 2007. Our hope is that the online version will make more people aware of what we do with the literary and visual arts. From what I've seen, most other online journals don't focus as heavily on paintings, sculptures, and photography as we do. TSR Online gives us the opportunity to feature so many more new voices and visions," Walker said.

New pieces will appear online each Wednesday. Content may soon expand to include uncut versions of author interviews that appear in the print journal, along with essays and social commentary.

"Whether it’s a reprint of a classic from our archives or something totally new, readers can now get a weekly dose of the high-quality work that TSR: The Southampton Review is known for," said Associate Editor Vanessa Cuti.

Pieces for consideration are accepted during the same submission periods as for the print journal. Read the submission guidelines here: thesouthamptonreview.com/submit

 

Interview with MFA Alumna Ali Simpson

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Ali Simpson.   (Photo by Greg Viger)

by Claudia Acevedo

Claudia Acevedo: When did you complete your MFA? What did you focus on?

Ali Simpson: Spring of 2013, and I anticipate paying off the loans accrued by 2053. I couldn't focus on much of anything, but when I did it was short stories and speculative fiction

CA: When did you start doing stand-up?

AS: I started doing stand-up in November of 2015, and like a lot of people doing stand-up, it was because I hit a low point in my life with $50 dollars in my bank account, no luck finding full-time work in Maine, getting dumped, cringing my way through office interviews in clothes that looked and smelled like they were from Goodwill, living in a new city with no friends, and stalling on a novel. Stand-up was helpful because I could go confront failure every night, rather than just letting it happen to me.

CA: How does writing influence your comedy, and vice versa?

AS: Well, you have to write to do comedy. Writing comedy is writing. So, I'm not sure how to answer this one. I will say that there are comics who focus more on performing their written material (facial expressions, tone, body language, timing) as opposed to crafting their written material. I would say I'm on the "craft" side, so I consider structure, rhythm, word choice, transitions, character, and the audience's perception of my words more than a "performer" comic. While this has helped me create a distinct voice for myself, it’s alsoinhibited the performance aspect because sitting at a desk and writing does not lend itself to physicality.

CA: What would be your advice to writers in the program who want to venture into comedy or comedy writing?

AS: Toss out that pathetic writer's anxiety that so many writers have, and I certainly had ( and still have). If I had a dollar for every time a fellow writer complained about frittering away at a blank screen, agonized over feedback, questioned their worth and the validity of their work, whined about being a procrastinator, sulked in their little creative bubble, and on and on, I would have enough money to pay back my student loans by 2035.

With writing stand-up, sure, you have to sit down and write, just like with all writing, but the key ingredient of being a stand-up comic is doing it. It's getting yourself away from the desk, out of the house, to a gross bar and presenting your work to people who not only have no interest in your feelings, but are in no way similar to you except that they are interested in stand-up comedy. With writing, it's easy to avoid failure, or be paralyzed by the fear of failing, with stand-up, failing is a requirement, and feedback from your audience is instant, visible, and honest in the form of laughter or silence. That feedback is mostly all on you.

So, I guess my advice is, if you want to venture into stand-up, write whatever you think comedy is and go do it. Also, don't do anything stupid like drop the mic on purpose or mock the audience for not laughing at your probably terrible jokes.      

CA: What was your biggest takeaway from your years in the MFA program?

AS: My biggest takeaway was getting to experience the brilliant brains of my professors and peers. I gained some of my strongest friendships here and my writing flourished. The professors are fantastic, and their mentoring and guidance helped me become a halfway decent writer by encouraging the talents I had and giving me reality checks when necessary. They're passionate people and true artists.

My second biggest takeaway was a burrito from La Hacienda.  

Ali will be performing in the Boston area on the following dates:

10/11/17 - The Ellis Room

10/27/17 - The Hideout at Fanuiel Hall

11/12/17 - Champions

 

MFA in Creative Writing News Roundup - Sept. 21, 2017

Movied Adaptation of The Wife by Meg Wolitzer Getting Oscar Buzz

Last month, the film adaptation of MFA faculty member Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Wife, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie has received rave reviews, and there’s even some Oscar buzz for the powerhouse star, Glenn Close! Check out the hype in The Guardian, Toronto Sun, and The Hollywood Reporter! And while you’re at it, head over to the Nashville Review for a recent interview from Meg in which she discusses The Wife, The Interestings, and more!

Get to know Cornelius Eady and Amy Hempel!

New MFA poetry professor Cornelius Eady was interviewed by current student Jordan E. Franklin in Dan’s Papers. They discussed his thoughts on Stony Brook Southampton and which U.S. city he would compare his "poetic sensibilities" to.

And MFA fiction professor Amy Hempel was interviewed by current student Sarah Stoss in Dan’s Papers. Amy gave some powerful advice that all writers should keep in mind.

Amy Hempel was also interviewed by the Sag Harbor Express. Amy discusses adjusting to Stony Brook, the importance of an MFA, and her fellow faculty member, poet Cornelius Eady.

Writers Speak Wednesdays

Dan’s Papers got the inside scoop on our Fall 2017 readers for Writers Speak Wednesdays. Our first reading was September 13th with Amy Hempel and Cornelius Eady, and the series will conclude on December 6th with a reading by current MFA students. Check out all of the talented writers you’ll be reading this semester.

 

"Selected Shorts" Returns to Southampton to Launch 10th Anniversary Issue of TSR

tsr selected shorts"Selected Shorts," one of the premier reading series in New York City and a popular Public Radio International program, will return to the Avram Theater at Stony Brook Southampton on Friday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of funny, moving, romantic, and surreal tales filled with unexpected twists and turns.

In celebration of the launch of the 10th anniversary issue of TSR: The Southampton Review, actors Betty Buckley, Blythe Danner, Richard Kind, and Maulik Pancholy will perform magical short stories by authors featured over the years in the literary and art journal of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Southampton Campus.

Tickets are $30 for adults or $15 for students, available at www.thesouthamptonreview.com. For more information, visit TSR Online, email editors@thesouthamptonreview.com or call 631-632-5027.

TSR: The Southampton Review

TSR Summer Fall 2017TSR: The Southampton Review is the literary and art journal of the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program at Stony Brook Southampton. For the 10th anniversary issue, Editor in Chief Lou Ann Walker commissioned artist Matt Collins to create special images in celebration. The issue also features the winners of the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize, Suzy Vitello and Sarah Cadorette. Vitello's piece, "Delivering," tells the story of the death of her husband and the birth of her baby, in the same week.

Also in the issue is a section on #WriteOurDemocracy with a piece by Roger Rosenblatt, "Don't Love Thy Neighbor," and works by Eve Ensler and Siri Hustvedt, among others. Ursula Hegi, guest fiction editor for this issue, writes in her note to readers that: "Authenticity of language lies at the core of this issue of TSR."

Fiction in the issue includes Meg Wolitzer's "Deep Lie the Woods" and Julia Alvarez's "Coup." There is a memoir piece by Kaylie Jones, "One True Friend," and poetry by Billy Collins, Michael Collier, Carl Phillips, and Hilma Wolitzer, among others.

Pieces by new voices in the issue include: an excerpt from Melanie Pierce's novel, Selah; a series of very funny poems by Nancy Keating, "The Patron Saints of Knitting"; poems by Natalie De Paz and Miranda Beeson; and "Crossing," a memoir piece by Antonio Romani about his experience as an immigrant in the U.S.

Art portfolios include one of tintypes of Native Americans photographed by Will Wilson, work by Donald Sultan, and a series of extraordinarily rendered charcoal drawings by Clio Newton. Cartoonist Grant Snider contributed three spreads, including "Ingredients of Shakespeare" and "Writing Exercises."

Bob Tabor, whose "Horse Whisperings" archival digital images are included in the issue, will have an exhibition of his work on view in the Avram Gallery adjacent to the Avram Theater during the "Selected Shorts" evening on Friday, July 14. The exhibition will also be open on the Monday afternoons when Pianofest master class concerts are presented in the theater in July and the first two weeks of August.

"Selected Shorts"

Called "one of the finest evenings at the theater" by David Sedaris, "Selected Shorts" began 30 years ago as a performance/reading series on stage at Symphony Space. The series was conceived with a simple premise: take great stories by well-known and emerging writers and have them performed by terrific actors. Tapping into people's love of being read to, the series was an instant hit.

The stories are mostly fiction, sometimes classic, sometimes new, and always performed by talented Broadway and Hollywood actors who bring these short stories to life. Evenings are often co-hosted and co-presented by writers, literary publications like TSR, and museums.

The radio series, co-produced with WNYC in New York and distributed by Public Radio International, airs locally on Sundays at 10 p.m. on WNYC 93.9 FM. For more information, visit selectedshorts.org.

Who's Performing

betty buckleyBetty Buckley is an award-winning stage, film and television actress and singer who made her Broadway debut in 1969 playing Martha Jefferson in the original production of the musical "1776." Other Broadway musical credits, among many, include "Pippin" (1973) and "Drood" (1985). A 2012 American Theater Hall of Fame inductee, she won the 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of "Cats." 

Films include "Tender Mercies" (1983), "Frantic" (1988), "Another Woman" (1988) and "The Happening" (2008). In 2017, she received a Saturn Award nomination for her role as Dr. Karen Fletcher in the film "Split."

blythe dannerBlythe Danner has appeared on Broadway in "Butterflies Are Free," for which she earned a Tony Award; "Betrayal"; "A Streetcar Named Desire"; and "The Country House." She has appeared Off-Broadway in "Suddenly Last Summer," "Moonlight," "The Deep Blue Sea" and "Follies" at the Roundabout Theatre, "Much Ado About Nothing" for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and "Sylvia" and "The Commons of Pensacola" at Manhattan Theatre Club.

Her films include "Meet the Parents," "The Prince of Tides," "The Great Santini," "1776," Woody Allen's "Alice," "Sylvia" with her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, "I'll See You In My Dreams," and "Tumbledown." Television credits include "We Were the Mulvaneys"; "Back When We Were Grownups"; "Madoff"; "Odd Mom Out"; "St. Elsewhere"; "Tattingers," created by her late husband Bruce Paltrow; "Will & Grace"; and "Huff," for which she earned two Emmy Awards. She will appear in the upcoming film "What They Had," with Michael Shannon and Hilary Swank.

richard kindRichard Kind began his career in Chicago with the Practical Theatre Company, founded by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Brad Hill and Gary Kroeger. He has appeared on Broadway in "The Producers," "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Sly Fox," and "The Big Knife," for which he received a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination.

His film credits include the 2013 Academy Award-winning Best Picture, "Argo"; "A Serious Man"; "All We Had"; "The Lennon Report"; "The Paper Store"; "The Visitor"; and "The Station Agent"; as well as voicing characters in "A Bug's Life," "Cars," and "Inside Out." Kind's television appearances include starring roles in "Spin City" and "Mad About You," as well as "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Gotham," Showtime's "I'm Dying Up Here," "Burn Notice," "Luck," and "Red Oaks," now filming its third season. He will appear in the upcoming films "Bernard and Huey," "Andover" and "The Independents."

maulik pancholyMaulik Pancholy is best known for his roles on the award-winning NBC comedy "30 Rock" and on Showtime's "Weeds." Additional television credits include "Whitney," "Web Therapy," "The Comeback," "The Good Wife," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "The Sopranos," and the animated series "Sanjay & Craig" and "Phineas & Ferb."

His film credits include "27 Dresses," "Hitch," and "Friends with Money," among others. He recently starred in "It's Only A Play" on Broadway and has performed at The New Group, Culture Project, Samuel Beckett Theatre, and the Summer Play Festival at the Public Theatre. Pancholy will appear on the forthcoming series "Star Trek: Discovery."

 

Rashaun Allen Becomes the First Fulbright Scholar from the Creative Writing MFA Program

Rashaun Allen
Rashaun Allen  with Robert Reeves, Stony Brook Southampton Associate Provost.

In a first for the Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program, Rashaun J. Allen '17 has been named the winner of a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Allen, a fall 2016 graduate, will use the award to conduct research at the University of West Indies Cave Hill campus in Barbados as part of a project to write about his family history.

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

"Rashaun has been the kind of intrepid student we at the creative writing program believe is essential to the arts in America," said Julie Sheehan, the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program. "He has been a consistent voice for diversity in our reading series, faculty hires and classroom reading assignments. He has made the most of every teaching opportunity that has come his way. He has consistently taken a hands-on approach to his own career. No surprise, then that he is the first to apply for a Fulbright from our program—and, deservedly, the first to receive one."

"The MFA program was gasoline to my writing fire," Allen wrote in an email. "It provided me with a community of writers just as passionate about the written word as me. Winning the Fulbright became my opportunity to make the most out of my writing ambitions."

Allen also noted that his writing in the 7 generations category on his website, www.rashaunjallen.com, provided the inspiration for his decision to apply for a Fulbright.

"One of the great strengths of our program is memoir," Stony Brook Southampton Associate Provost Robert Reeves said, "and so it is fitting that the first Fulbright should go to Rashaun Allen, who is using the award to work on an innovative piece that ties together two communities based on his exploration of family history in Barbados."

Having worked closely with Allen on the Fulbright application process, Carla Caglioti, Executive Director of the Southampton Graduate Arts campus, said that "no one is more deserving of this honor than Rashaun. He worked very hard to get into the MFA program and showed complete dedication throughout his time with us while also working at a full-time job. It's wonderful to see his talent and persistence rewarded in this way."

In her recommendation for Allen's Fulbright application, Sheehan wrote: "Rashaun's writing is swiftly moving toward a level of imaginative polish I never would have predicted. For example, one short story was driven totally by the first-person voice, through which we got a guided tour of not only the Caribbean island where the narrator lives, but his personal history.

"By the end of this fiercely economical piece, when the narrator's cousin alights from the U.S., the story has eased into a political piece about economic imbalances and the blindness privilege has to itself. This agenda is not easy to manage in 500 words; Rashaun succeeded not only in packing the story with layers of meaning, but packing it with humor and rich, sensory imagery as well."

Allen has independently published two books of poetry: "A Walk Through Brooklyn" and "In The Moment." The books made the tenth and eleventh best selling spots in Amazon's Kindle store in the African-American poetry section.

Allen was one of five Stony Brook University students to be named Fulbright Scholars.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of more than 160 other countries, the program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 57 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

 

Master Class with Roger Rosenblatt Returns to Southampton Writers Conference July 12 - 23

roger rosenblattThe Southampton Writers Conference at Stony Brook Southampton will once again offer a Master Class led by New York Times best-selling author Roger Rosenblatt and featuring esteemed guest writers during this year's event, running from July 12 to 23, 2017.

"Imagine What You Know: Five Ways of Looking at Writing" is a groundbreaking approach to examining the art and craft of writing for every genre, using a multi-media array of music, film clips and other works of art to broaden and deepen the discussion. The class was designed by Roger to be as useful for accomplished writers as it is for those taking their first steps or simply exploring the idea of writing.

All those who sign up for the Master Class will have access to everything that is offered during the 12-day conference—evening salons, guest author readings, panel discussions and more—with the only exception being the graduate credit-bearing workshops.

The fee for the Master Class is $650. For more information, or to apply, visit the Writers Conference website or email Christian.McLean@stonybrook.edu.

The deadline for applying is July 1. 

The five topics for this year's Master Class will be:

  1. (Thursday, July 13, 9:45 am) You and the Night and the Music: On Cadence and Language with Sharon Olds.
  2. (Saturday, July 15, 9:45 am) Seeing the World as a Do-Over: On Matters of Consequence with Brit Bennett.
  3. (Monday, July 17, 9:45 am) The Short Story in the Long Run: On the Core Moment with Frederic Tuten.
  4. (Wednesday, July 19, 9:45 am) Now You See Me, Now You Don't: On Self-Recognition with Natalie Diaz.
  5. (Friday, July 21, 9:45 am) In My End is My Beginning: On Structure and Timing with Patricia Marx.

Each two-hour and 45 minute session is divided into thirds. In the first part, Roger discusses the day's topic, linking recordings, film clips and other media to his discussion of the subject. In the second section, he talks with that day's guest. In the final third of each day's class, Roger gives the group a prompt for 10 or 15 minutes of writing, and then leads the entire class in finding what is best and most useful about what each student writes.

Students of the Master Class have called it inspiring and fun, citing it as "wonderful," "insightful," "amazing." One novelist wrote: "He put the most positive spin possible on each class member's remarks as he listened with extraordinary intensity. His class still lingers in my head." Another wrote: "Roger taught me more in five sessions than I had learned in numerous semester-long writing classes."

 

Young Artists and Writers Project 9th Annual Middle School Playwrights Festival Coming May 20

YAWP festival
Playwrights, actors, and stage crew at the 2016 YAWP Middle School Playwrights Festival. 
Dane Dupuis photo

Five short plays written and performed by local middle school students will be presented at Stony Brook Southampton's Avram Theater on Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m. as the culminating event of the 2016 Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP) Middle School Playwriting program.

Playwrights for the festival were drawn from YAWP playwriting classes at Eastport South Manor, The Ross School, Shelter Island School, and the YAWP Summer Conference session.

This year, YAWP has entered into a new partnership with GoodCircle, a crowdfunding platform that brings businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations together to raise funds and awareness for specific, tangible projects.

Speaking about the partnership, GoodCircle Co-Founder Joan Overlook noted that "YAWP is raising money to fund scholarships and expansion in three additional schools. To ensure YAWP's transformative creative writing programs can serve even more young people, we are currently looking for business partners for this project."

The Middle School Playwrights Festival represents a collaboration between student playwrights, actors and designers who have been taught and mentored by theater and writing professionals affiliated with Stony Brook Southampton's MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, which created and sponsors the YAWP programs. Professional directors stage the plays, which encompass an array of genres—from comedies to dramas—with subject matter drawn from the students' own lives.

The Young Artists and Writers Project is dedicated to mentoring middle and high school students in the development of creative expression and critical thinking through writing, and is an integral part of Stony Brook Southampton's commitment to its community and to the next generation of readers and writers. The YAWP programs send professional writers and teaching artists into classrooms to lead workshops in a wide array of writing disciplines, including Playwriting, Screenwriting, Poetry, Personal Essay and Fiction.

YAWP is now partnering with GoodCircle, a crowdfunding platform that brings businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations together to raise funds and awareness for specific, tangible projects. "YAWP is raising money to fund scholarships and expansion in three additional schools. " says GoodCircle Co-Founder Joan Overlook, " To ensure YAWP's transformative creative writing programs can serve even more young people, we are currently looking for business partners for this project."

More than 100 students participated in the YAWP Middle School Playwriting Residency this spring. Over the course of two months, students explored the basic elements of dramatic writing: how to develop ideas, characters, themes, dialogue and scenes. One play from each participating class was then selected for production in the Festival.

The Young Artists and Writers Project is helmed by Executive Director Emma Walton Hamilton and Program Director Will Chandler.

Hamilton is a bestselling children's book author, editor and arts educator and serves as director of the Southampton Children's Literature Fellows program. A co-founder of Bay Street Theatre, she was the theatre's co-artistic director and subsequently director of education and programming for young audiences for 17 years.

Chandler, an American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Nicholl Fellowship screenwriter, also served as education director and as a teaching artist for Bay Street Theatre. He has written a number of screenplays for clients ranging from Sony Pictures to actor Russell Crowe and has been a story analyst/script doctor for ABC, CBS, NBC, Viacom and HBO, among others.

"Dramatic writing and production skills give young people unparalleled lessons in communication and collaboration," Hamilton says. "They build confidence, and have a direct impact on young people's abilities to become engaged and compassionate citizens in later life. This project represents a wonderful synergy between all the creative disciplines and values about which we are passionate."

"When we go into schools, we work closely with classroom teachers as we convey the basic elements of dramatic writing," Chandler added. "Learning dramatic writing is a great way to improve overall writing skills, but what we're really teaching them is that each student has a ‘voice,' and we want to hear it."

For ongoing curriculum development and program design, the YAWP administrators draw on the substantial strengths of the Stony Brook Southampton MFA faculty, including novelist and MFA Director Robert Reeves; Whiting Award-winning poet Julie Sheehan; best-selling memoirist and editor-in-chief of The Southampton Review, Lou Ann Walker; and screenwriter and Emmy Award-winning producer Annette Handley Chandler.

"The YAWP programs are a wonderful way for us to reach—and to help shape—the next generation of American writers," said Reeves, "as well as an ideal way to offer training and teaching experience to our very talented graduates and graduate students."

The YAWP Middle School Playwriting Festival takes the stage Saturday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at the Avram Theater in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton. Tickets for the performance are free. For reservations and more information, email william.chandler@stonybrook.edu.

 

Award-Winning Novelist Julie Shigekuni Next Up at Writers Speak on April 19

julie shigekuniNovelist Julie Shigekuni will be the final guest in the spring 2017 Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Shigekuni will read from and discuss her work on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

The author of four novels, Shigekuni is a creative writing professor at the University of New Mexico, where she is also the development director of a new Asian American Studies program. Her latest novel, In Plain View, released in 2016, is set in the Japanese-American community in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Author Ann Patchett has called Shigekuni's prose "shimmering and hallucinatory. The beauty of her writing turns the heat and hard times of California into a dreamscape."

Shigekuni, who received a BA from CUNY Hunter College and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award and the recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. She has also received a Henfield Award and an American Japanese Literary Award.

On Wednesday, May 3, the evening will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5030. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Judith Miller Coming to Writers Speak on April 12

judith millerAuthor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller will be the next guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Miller will discuss her work on Wednesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

An investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times, Miller is now an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of its magazine. Since 2008, she has been a commentator for Fox News on national security and foreign policy issues.

Miller has written five books. Her latest, The Story, A Reporter's Journey , published in 2015, is a memoir on her career and threats to quality journalism that also addresses her controversial reporting on Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction during the lead-up to the Iraq War, during which Miller was embedded with U.S. troops for four months.

The book also details her involvement in the investigation of George W. Bush administration aide Scooter Libby in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. In 2005, Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal a source in the case and received the Society of Professional Journalists' "First Amendment Award" that year.

Miller, who lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, first joined the Times Washington bureau in 1977. She covered the securities industry, Congress and foreign policy, particularly the Middle East, and served as the paper's Cairo bureau chief, its Paris correspondent, and its deputy bureau chief in Washington. In 2002, she was part of a reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for "explanatory journalism" for a series of articles on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

On April 19, novelist Julie Shigekuni will be the final guest of the spring Writers Speak series. The evening of May 3 will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5030. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

Emma Walton Hamilton and Julie Andrews Welcome Stars and Children to Julie's Greenroom

julie's greenroomSouthampton Arts has turned its attention to Netflix. More accurately, we're voraciously binge-watching Julie's Greenroom, produced and written by our very own Emma Walton Hamilton and hosted by her mother, Julie Andrews.

Julie's Greenroom (released March 17th) teaches kids the wonder of the performing arts and the way they enhance our lives. Ms. Julie (played by Julie Andrews, of course) is a theater teacher to five attentive and curious puppet children, a dog, and a duck named Hugo. Also on hand is the human stage manager, Gus, played by Giullian Yao Gioiello of The Carrie Diaries. Over the course of the 13-episode season, Ms. Julie helps the "Greenies" create a musical. The show was first proposed to the pair by The Jim Henson Company.

Creative collaboration is another theme of the show. Not only are the puppets a diverse batch of creative types, but every episode, a mega-talented, art-loving guest visits to teach something new: Alec Baldwin stops by to talk acting, Idina Menzel takes the crew to broadway, Bill Irwin shows how clowning is done, Josh Groban stops for a song, and Sara Bareilles talks about songwriting.

emma walton hamiltonJulie's Greenroom has received press attention from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vulture and National Public Radio, as has the dynamic and determined mother-daughter pair. Most recently, the two wrote a defense for the arts, published online by CNN: "Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton: Rescue the Arts from the Budget Chopping Block."

"The arts are the first to go when the artist block falls," they write. "This is mind-boggling to us, considering how much the arts benefit our lives and our world. They foster collaboration and creativity, essential skills for navigating in the workplace and surviving in a challenging world. They cultivate empathy and tolerance, by bridging cultural and socioeconomic divides."

They wrote in response to President Trump's proposed budget that cuts all National Endowment for the Arts funding. Walton Hamilton and Andrews have been vocal before about defunding the arts; they spoke to Buzzfeed about it in February. Nor is their advocacy surprising. Together, the pair has written over thirty children's books, and Walton Hamilton has also written a book for parents about childhood literacy. Both Julie Andrews, an Oscar-, Grammy-, and Emmy- winning actress, and her daughter Walton Hamilton, who with her husband founded Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY, are as deeply committed to the importance of literature as they are to that of the theater.

Writers Speak Features Author and Film Professor Jamal Joseph on February 22

jamal josephAuthor and Columbia film professor Jamal Joseph will be the next guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Joseph will read from and talk about his work on Wednesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

Joseph is the author of "Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention"—which he is adapting into a screenplay —based on his time spent in the Black Panther Party as a young man. He has also written an interactive biography of Tupac Shakur, "Tupac Shakur Legacy," published in 2006 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

A Columbia University School of the Arts graduate film program professor, Joseph has written, directed and produced various film and television projects. He is the founder and artistic director of IMPACT, a Harlem-based youth theater company, and executive director of New Heritage Films, a non-profit that supports minority filmmakers.

Other writers and programs scheduled for the spring series include: Omar Bah in conversation with Harriet Levin Millan, March 1; a Faculty Reading on March 8 featuring Kaylie Jones, Susan Scarf Merrell, Star Black, Terese Svoboda, Julie Sheehan and Lou Ann Walker; Tim Murphy, March 22; Stacey Waite in conversation with Charif Shanahan, March 29; Judith Miller, April 12; and Julie Shigekuni, April 19. On May 3, the evening will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632-5030 or visit Writers Speak on the web. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

 

Bestselling Author Helen Simonson Kicking Off Spring Writers Speak Wednesdays Series

helen simonsonBestselling novelist Helen Simonson will be the first guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Simonson will read from and talk about her work on Wednesday, February 8, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.

Other writers and programs scheduled for the spring series include: Jamal Joseph, February 22; Omar Bah in conversation with Harriet Levin Millan, March 1; a Faculty Reading on March 8 featuring Kaylie Jones, Susan Scarf Merrell, Star Black, Terese Svoboda, Julie Sheehan and Lou Ann Walker; Tim Murphy, March 22; Stacey Waite in conversation with Charif Shanahan, March 29; Judith Miller, April 12; and Julie Shigekuni, April 19. On May 3, the evening will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

Simonson, who earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton in 2008, turned her thesis into a debut novel — Major Pettigrew's Last Stand — that became a New York Times bestseller. The Times' Janet Maslin warned readers they'd fall "head over heels for Ms. Simonson's funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling."

Born in England, Simonson is also a graduate of the London School of Economics and now lives in Brooklyn. Her second novel, The Summer Before the War, was released in 2016.

Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.

For more information, call 631-632- 5030 or visit the website. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.

Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out Coming to SB Southampton Sunday, Jan. 15

tracy king-sanchez
Tracy M. King-Sanchez

On January 15 — Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday — writers, activists and community members will come together at Stony Brook Southampton beginning at 2:30 p.m. as part of Writers Resist, a nationwide movement to honor democracy and celebrate the history and promise of a diverse nation.

On the same day, hundreds of others in cities across America will be gathering for a "re-inauguration," an affirmation of their shared commitment to equality and justice. As fliers for the afternoon programs in Southampton point out: "You don't have to be a writer to resist."

Cosponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton, Canio's Books in Sag Harbor, Poetry Street, and PEN America, Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out will bring together several groups from across the East End. Workshops and readings in two separate programs will be dedicated to empowering the community while offering a rare opportunity for residents to join together to celebrate diversity and their common humanity.

"The obvious question prompted by the title would be: ‘resist what?'" said Julie Sheehan, director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton. "Rather than organizing resistance to any one individual or institution, these programs all over the country are aimed at resisting the erosion of the values that make our democracy work: The value of freedom of expression, public education for all, and tolerance in a pluralistic society."

julie sheehan
Julie Sheehan

After the presidential election, Sheehan said, people felt afraid and fractured and many wanted to "do something." At times like this, she said, "It's important for people to come together and recognize that this country has been through very hard times—including a civil warand we can get through anything if we can come together, whatever our differences, to affirm our democracy."

The Teach In, running Sunday, Jan. 15 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., will consist of free writer-led workshops in English and Spanish, open to the public, including children.

To get things started, MFA in Creative Writing student Afua Ansong will talk about why it's important for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and all immigrants to speak out.  Author Roger Rosenblatt will speak about why writing matters, and the importance of storytelling and bearing witness.

Participants will have the chance to record their experiences and insights about where the country has been and where it is going. These writings can be developed into letters to the editor, persuasive lobbying tools, or personal testimonies used to build networks of support.

A workshop for Spanish speaking writers will be led by Sandra Dunn. Depending on the number of participants, small group workshops for English speakers will be led by Lou Ann Walker, Julie Sheehan, MFA alumna Maggie Bloomfield, and MFA students Zinnia Smith and Anthony DiPietro.

All those who wish to participate are asked to RSVP to Julie Sheehan at (631) 996-4421.

The Speak Out program that follows, beginning Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m., will include readings from the past and present, writings selected to highlight the ideals of democracy, diversity and free expression. Along with their own original material, writers will be reading from such sources as the preface to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"; Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" and an original source of the term "welfare," the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

Afua Ansong, Otilia Aguilar, Megan and Scott Chaskey, Ursula Hegi, Kathryn Levy, MFA alumna Tracy M. King-Sanchez, Roger Rosenblatt, Grace Schulman, Philip Schultz, L.B. Thompson, Adrienne Unger, and MFA alumna Michelle Whitaker will present works that inspire them and offer hope for the future.

The Speak Out event will also include an audience-based Twitter storm based on the Langston Hughes poem, "Let America Be America Again." A short section of the poem will be handed out to all members of the audience with smartphones and Twitter feeds upon their arrival, with instructions to tweet the lines at some point during the program.

A reception will follow, offering a chance to talk, mingle and connect.

Both events are free and the public is welcome to attend one or both. No reservations are needed for the reading. Events will be held in the Duke Lecture Hall at Chancellors Hall, Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.

Writers Resist began the week after the presidential election as a call to writers by PEN America, among others, to resist the growing challenges to freedom of expression. Events are scheduled in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Austin, Portland, Omaha, Seattle, London, Zurich, Hong Kong, and many other cities.

One of the founders of the movement, poet Erin Belieu, believes these events are a first step in focusing public attention on the ideals of a free, just and compassionate society. "This is only a starting point in raising our voices in defense of democracy," said Belieu.

Call Julie Sheehan at 631-996-4421 or Canio's at 631-725-4926 for more information about Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out in Southampton. For more information about Writers Resist nationally, visit www.writersresist.org.