Yesterday I stopped in at Pine Manor College’s campus in Newton, sat in on a class, and attended a graduate student reading. Four of my friends from the MFA program — Kerry Beckford, Michael Farrell, Ann McArdle, and Cindy Zelman — gave dynamic, passionate and interesting readings of their creative nonfiction (Kerry and Cindy) and fiction (Michael and Ann). Sitting in my old familiar back row, corner seat, I felt so happy for them. I know how much hard work goes into that moment when you are finally reading your polished work in front of a big audience just before graduation (and I know how scary it is, too). I especially was amazed by Kerry and Cindy, because we sat through four residencies of daily workshops together, and the distance their work has traveled from the early drafts to the creative thesis is incredible. Brava and Bravo, everyone!! I am just sorry I missed the reading earlier in the week, which featured poet Jennifer Morrison, fiction writer Lisa Friedlander, and the wonderful Young Adult writer and poet Jasen Sousa.
The class I attended was on craft analysis, and was taught by Michael Steinberg, the founding editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre, and Kim Dana Kupperman, the current editor of the Gettysburg Review. We learned about the difference between literary criticism and craft analysis — a topic more focused toward the current students, but still of interest. I usually learn something new even on a familiar topic, and I wish I this class had been offered before I had to write all of those annotations!
I’m especially excited about Kim Dana Kupperman’s new venture: Welcome Table Press. Although still in the early stages (offering educational opportunities) and not yet accepting submissions, the press is focused on “Publishing and Celebrating the Essay.” Essay collections are kind of the black sheep of the publishing world — notoriously difficult to publish — so it’s exciting to have a press that will be focused specifically on this genre.
Now, back to the writing so that someday I’ll have a full manuscript to submit!