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Faculty, Staff, & Guests

Program Faculty


Consulting Writers

Director and Staff

Meg Kearney – Director
Quintin Collins – Assistant Director
Megan Leduke – Intern


Program Faculty

© Debi Milligan

Kathleen Aguero — Poetry

Kathleen Aguero has published five collections of poetry: Daughter Of, The Real Weather, Thirsty Day, Investigations, a collection of poems inspired by Nancy Drew, and After That (Tiger Bark Press, 2013). Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Poetry magazine, Massachusetts Review, and the Cincinnati Review. She is also co-editor of three collections of multicultural literature: A Gift of Tongues, An Ear to the Ground, and Daily Fare. Her creative nonfiction essay, “Marriage Koan,” appears in the anthology Why I’m Still Married. Recipient of a Massachusetts Fellowship in Poetry and a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Kathi also was awarded a writing grant from the Elgin/Cox Trust. She has taught at the Writers’ Center at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, the NY State Young Writers’ Program at Skidmore, as well as in the Poets in the Schools Programs of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In 2004, she held the position of Visiting Research Associate at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center in Waltham, Massachusetts. In addition to teaching in the Solstice MFA program, Kathi teaches for “Changing Lives Through Literature,” an alternative sentencing program based on the power of books to change lives through reading and group discussion. She is a consulting editor in poetry for Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. Visit her website and/or read Kathi Aguero’s interview by Tiara Marchando.

Jos Angel Araguz

© Ani Schreiber

José Angel Araguz —Poetry, Creative Nonfiction

José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks as well as the collections Everything We Think We Hear, Small Fires, Until We Are Level Again, and, most recently, An Empty Pot’s Darkness. His poems, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, New South, Poetry International, and The Bind. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence and composes erasure poems on the Instagram account @poetryamano. He also reads for the journal Right Hand Pointing and serves as a co-editor of Airlie Press. With an MFA from New York University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati, José is an Assistant Professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston, where he also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander Magazine.

© Natalia Salzaar

Venise Berry — Fiction

Venise Berry is the author of three national bestselling novels: So Good, An African American Love Story; All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale—recipient of a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association—and Colored Sugar Water. She also has a memoir, Driven: Reflections on Love, Career and the Pursuit of Happiness. In 2003, she received the Creative Contribution to Literature Award from the Zora Neale Hurston Society; and in 2001, she was recognized with an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation in Des Moines. She has co-authored two nonfiction resource books with S. Torriano Berry, an associate professor in Film at Howard University: The Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema and The 50 Most Influential Black Films. Her book Mediated Messages and African-American Culture: Contemporary Issues, a co-edited nonfiction project, won the Meyers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America in 1997. She is an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication and African American Studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Visit her website.

© Star Black

Laure-Anne Bosselaar — Poetry

Laure-Anne Bosselaar grew up in Belgium, where she worked for Belgian and Luxembourg Radio and Television. Her first poetry collection in English, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award, the National Poetry Series, the Ohio State University Prize, and the Nicholas Roerich Prize. Her second book of poems, Small Gods of Grief, won the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry. Her third poetry collection, A New Hunger, was an ALA Notable Book in 2008. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she co-directed the Aspen Writers’ Conference from 1989 to 1992. Her other honors and awards include a Fellowship at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference; Writer-in-Residence positions at Hamilton College and at the Vermont Studio Center; a Pushcart Prize; and the McEver Chair In Poetry at Georgia Tech. Garrison Keillor chose four of her poems to read on the Writers’ Almanac. She is the editor of the anthologies Never Before: Poems About First Experiences; Outsiders: Poems About Rebels, Exiles, and Renegades; and Urban Nature: Poems About Wildlife in the City, and co-editor of Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars. A translator of French and Flemish poetry, she and her late husband, the poet Kurt Brown, published a book of translations from Flemish poet Herman de Coninck: The Plural of Happiness. Laure-Anne has taught at Emerson College, Sarah Lawrence College, U.C. Santa Barbara, and at writers’ conferences across the country. Visit her website and/or read Laure-Anne Bosselaar’s Interview by Tiara Marchando.

© Diana L.B. Dutton

Nicole Terez Dutton — Poetry

Nicole Terez Dutton’s work has appeared in Callaloo, Ploughshares, 32 Poems, Indiana Review, and Salt Hill Journal. Nicole earned an MFA from Brown University and has received fellowships from the Frost Place, the Fine Arts Work Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her collection of poems, If One Of Us Should Fall, was selected as the winner of the 2011 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts where she served as the city’s inaugural poet laureate. She is an editor at The Baffler and Transition Magazine.

Amy Hoffman

© Roberta Stone

Amy Hoffman — Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

Amy Hoffman is a writer, community activist, and former editor-in-chief of Women’s Review of Books. Her novel The Off Season was published in 2017 with University of Wisconsin Press. Her third memoir, Lies About My Family, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2013. Her second memoir, An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in fall 2007. It was short-listed for the New York Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her first memoir, Hospital Time, about taking care of friends with AIDS in the late 1980s, was short-listed for the American Library Association Gay Book Award and the Judy Grahn Award, and was a New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection. Amy’s essays, interviews, and book reviews have been published in the Ocean State Review, Prairie Schooner, the Gay and Lesbian Review, and the Journal of Lesbian Studies. A former development director for Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Women’s Lunch Place, a daytime shelter for homeless women, she has also been an editor at Gay Community News, South End Press, and the Unitarian Universalist World magazine. She received her MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has taught at UMass Amherst, and teaches at Emerson College. Visit her website.


© Rachel Eliza

Randall Horton — Creative Nonfiction, Poetry

Poet, fiction writer, and creative nonfiction writer Randall Horton is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea González Poetry Award, and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His latest poetry collection, Pitch Dark Anarchy, was selected by Beltway Poetry Quarterly as a Best Book of 2013. His essays have appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, the International Journal of Literary Nonfiction, and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry Race. His Hook: A Memoir was released from Augury Books in fall 2015. With an MFA from Chicago State University and a PhD from SUNY Albany, Randall is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven.

© Joe Flaherty

Steven Huff — Fiction, Poetry

Steven Huff is the author of two collections of stories, A Pig in Paris (2008), and Blissful (2018) and three collections of poems, most recently, A Fire in the Hill (2018). Steve’s poems and stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, Kestrel, The Chatauqua Literary Review, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column, and other journals and publications. Garrison Keillor has read his poetry on “The Writer’s Almanac” public radio program. His non-fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review. A Pushcart Prize winner in fiction, he is the founding editor of Tiger Bark Press, which recently published Stephen Dunn’s new collection of essays, Degrees of Fidelity. He has recently opened an online business for selling used and rare books, Methana Books, named for his favorite beach in Greece.

Read Steven Huff’s Interview by Jiao Fu

Brendan Kiely

© Gary Joseph Cohen

Brendan Kiely – Writing for Young People

Brendan Kiely is The New York Times bestselling author of Tradition, All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His work has been published in more than ten languages and has received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, the Walter Dean Myers Award, and the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His work was twice selected for the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults (2015, 2017), was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best (2016), and a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2014. Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife and son in New York City.

Visit his website and/or read Brendan Kiely’s Interview by Vanessa Aarons.

© Colin McCaffrey

Laura Williams McCaffrey — Fiction; Writing for Young People

Laura Williams McCaffrey was born and raised in Vermont. She attended Barnard College of Columbia University, then returned to Vermont and eventually became a school librarian, answering to the names “Ms. Librarian,” “Library Lady,” and sometimes simply “Ms. Library.” A passionate advocate for the arts in education, she now teaches writing and literature at Pacem School, an alternative school and homeschooling center. She also mentors teens in creative writing, in addition to regularly contributing educational materials for children and teens to both Harper Collins’ and Algonquin’s young readers divisions. Laura’s speculative fiction short stories have been published in Solstice Literary Magazine, Soundings Review, Cicada, and YA Review Network. Her short story “Into the Vast,” published by YA Review Network, won SCBWI’s 2014 Magazine Merit Award for fiction. Marked, her third young-adult speculative fiction novel, was published by Clarion Books in spring 2016. Marked is a dystopic fantasy as well as a mixed-format novel that includes comics story lines integrated into prose text. Laura is the author of two other young-adult speculative fiction novels: Water Shaper (2006), selected for the 2007 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list; and Alia Waking (2003), named an International Reading Association Notable Book. Alia Waking was also a nominee for the annual Teens’ Top Ten Books list and for Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award. Laura is currently at work on a fourth speculative fiction young-adult novel, a story inspired by her research of WWI nurses, as well as a speculative fiction young-adult mystery.

Visit her website and/or read Laura Williams McCaffrey’s Interview by Tiara Marchando

© self portrait

Josh Neufeld — Graphic Narratives

Josh Neufeld is a cartoonist known for his nonfiction narratives of political and social upheaval, told through the voices of witnesses. His works of comics journalism have been published by Al Jazeera America, The Boston Globe, Medium, Fusion, Cartoon Movement, and The Atavist, among others. As a comics artist, he has collaborated with such acclaimed writers as Brooke Gladstone, Harvey Pekar, and Nick Flynn. Josh is the writer/artist of the New York Times-bestselling nonfiction graphic novel A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge (Pantheon). In addition, he is the illustrator of the New York Times-bestselling graphic nonfiction book The Influencing Machine (W.W. Norton). He was awarded a 2004 Xeric Foundation grant for his first book, A Few Perfect Hours (and Other Stories from Southeast Asia Central Europe). In 2014, Josh was an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist, where he mentored eight Associate Artist cartoonists. In 2012, he was awarded the Knight-Wallace Fellowship in Journalism at the University of Michigan—the first long-form cartoonist ever admitted to the program. As part of the U.S. Department of State’s Speaker and Specialist program, Josh has traveled abroad as a “cultural ambassador,” giving presentations and conducting workshops in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. He has taught comics workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and has served as a thesis advisor for students at the Center for Cartoon Studies and Hunter College. His illustrations have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His books have been translated into numerous languages. Josh lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, the writer Sari Wilson, and their daughter. To learn more, visit his website.

Anne-Marie Oomen

© Dianne Dupuis

Anne-Marie Oomen — Creative Nonfiction, Poetry

Anne-Marie Oomen is author of three memoirs: Love, Sex and 4-H; Pulling Down the Barn; and House of Fields, (the latter two both Michigan Notable Books); as well as An American Map: Essays (Wayne State University Press); and a full-length collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions). She also co-wrote The Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems with Linda Nemec Foster. She is also represented in New Poems of the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry. She edited Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, an anthology of seniors’ essays funded by the Michigan Humanities Council. She has written seven plays, including the award-winning Northern Belles (inspired by oral histories of women farmers), and most recently, Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern, 2012 winner of the CTAM contest. She adapted the meditations of Gwen Frostic for “Chaotic Harmony,” a choreopoem. She is founding editor of Dunes Review and former president of Michigan Writers, Inc. Anne-Marie serves as instructor at the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts and the Interlochen College of Creative Arts in Michigan, and appears at conferences throughout the country. She and her husband, David Early, built their home near Empire, Michigan. Visit her website and/or read Anne-Marie Oomen’s Interview by Carrie Margolis.

© Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Iain Haley Pollock — Poetry

Iain Haley Pollock lives in Mount Kisco, NY, and and teaches English at Rye Country Day School. He is the author of two poetry collections, Ghost, Like a Place (Alice James Books, 2018), which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and Spit Back a Boy, winner of the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Individual poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Baffler, Boston Review, Callaloo, and The New York Times Magazine. Iain received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College and his MFA in Creative Writing at Syracuse University, where he won the Joyce Carol Oates Award. He held a Cave Canem Fellowship from 2006-2009. He was the Solstice MFA Program’s first Cave Canem Partner Poet and joined the MFA faculty in summer 2012.


Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich – Writing for Young People

Rhuday-Perkovich is author of 8th Grade Superzero (Scholastic), a Notable Book for a Global Society and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She is a co-author of the NAACP Image Award-nominated Two Naomis, and its sequel, Naomis Too (Balzer and Bray/HarperCollins). Her nonfiction work includes Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow (Discovery/MacMillan), and the picture book biography Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins (Seagrass/Quarto). Olugbemisola is also the editor of The Hero Next Door, a 2019 middle grade anthology from We Need Diverse Books. A member of The Brown Bookshelf and We Need Diverse Books, Olugbemisola lives with her family in New York City. Find her on Twitter @olugbemisola and Instagram @olugbemisolarhudayperkovich.

Visit her website and/or read Olugbemisola’s interview by Vanessa Aarons.

© Scofield Sandra

Sandra Scofield — Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

Author of seven novels, Sandra Scofield won the Texas Institute of Letters Best Fiction Award in 1997 and was a 1991 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Her titles include A Chance to See Egypt, Plain Seeing, Walking Dunes, Beyond Deserving—a 1991 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction—and others. She has also published a memoir about her Texas childhood, Occasions of Sin, and a popular craft book for writers titled The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer. Recent work has appeared in The Examined Life: A Literary Journal of the University of Iowa College of Medicine; Callaloo (a special issue of Texas writers); Narrative (winning the 2012 annual prize for “Story of the Week” and the spring 2014 Story contest), and Llano Estacado: Island in the Sky (Texas Tech University Press). Her papers are archived in The Sowell Family Literary Collection at Texas Tech. Texas Tech published the book Mysteries of Love and Grief in fall 2015. An experienced teacher (grades one through graduate school) with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Oregon, Sandra has served on the faculty of Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) and Seattle Pacific University, and has been a visiting writer at Macalaster College, the University of Arkansas, Miami University (Oxford, OH), and Old Dominion University. Through the National Book Foundation, she has twice served as writer-in-residence on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. She has taught in private and public elementary and secondary schools, and has extensive experience as an educational planner, having worked with the Northwest Educational Laboratory, the Montana Department of Public Instruction, and school districts in Oregon and Alaska. Sandra has been on the faculty of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival since 1992. Born and raised in Texas, Sandra presently divides her time between Montana and Oregon. She is an avid landscape painter and traveler.

Sterling Watson
© John M. Clark
Sterling Watson — Fiction

Sterling Watson is the author of seven novels, including Suitcase City (Akashic, 2015); Fighting in the Shade; Sweet Dream Baby; Deadly Sweet; Blind Tongues; The Calling; Weep No More, My Brother; and The Committee. Sterling is the recipient of three Florida Fine Arts Council Awards for Fiction Writing. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such publications as Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Gulfstream Magazine, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Chattahoochee Review, and The Southern Review. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He is the Peter Meinke Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida; for eleven years he co-directed the Writers In Paradise Conference with Dennis Lehane. He was the recipient of both the John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award and the Lloyd W. Chapin Award for Excellence in Scholarship and the Arts for the 2006-2007 academic year. Before Eckerd College, he taught at the University of Florida and in the Prison School of the Florida State Penitentiary.

David Yoo

© Jessica Jackson

David Yoo — Creative Nonfiction; Writing for Young People

David Yoo is the author of the novels Girls for Breakfast (Delacorte), which was named a NYPL Best Book for Teens and a Booksense Pick, and Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before (Hyperion), a Chicago Best of the Best selection, along with a middle grade novel, The Detention Club, (Balzer and Bray). His first collection of essays, The Choke Artist (Grand Central) was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. He holds a B.A. from Skidmore College and an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder. David wrote a regular column in Koream Journal. He teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and resides in Massachusetts. Visit his website and/or read David Yoo’s interview by Hareem Shafi.


Terrance Hayes

© Ric Francis

Terrance Hayes — Poetry

Terrance Hayes’ most recent poetry collection is American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the TS Eliot Prize, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Literary Prize for Fiction Poetry, the LA Times Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award. In 2010, his book Lighthead won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Hurston-Wright Award. His first book, Muscular Music, won both a Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His second book, Hip Logic, was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Wind In a Box, a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award finalist, was named one of the best books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly. How to Be Drawn received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry and was long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry. Terrance’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a profile on the PBS Newshour with Jim Leher, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His poems have appeared in seven editions of the Best American Poetry anthology and two editions of the Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology. His essay collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. He was also guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2014, the preeminent annual anthology of contemporary American poetry. He is professor of English at New York University.

Photo of Lee Hope by Lou Jones

© Lou Jones

Lee Hope — Fiction

Lee Hope is the author of the novel Horsefever, which made its mark on the Small Press Distribution Bestseller List when it was published in 2016 and went on to be a finalist for the Midwest Book Awards. Lee is also is editor-in-chief of Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. Her fiction has received grants from both the Maine and the Pennsylvania Arts Commissions. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, such as Witness, The North American Review, Epiphany, and Sou’wester. Her short story “What to Take In Case of Fire” received an honorable mention in American Fiction, Vol. 13 (winner of the 2015 Midwest Book Awards in the anthology category). Founder and former director of a low-residency MFA program in Maine, Lee also helped to found the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program. She is currently president of the nonprofit Solstice Institute for Creative Writing and teaches for Changing Lives Through Literature, which brings literature to people on probation. 

Randall Kenan
© Jill Krementz
(in memorium) Randall Kenan — Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

In researching his nonfiction book, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, Randall Kenan spent eight years traversing the United States, gathering more than 200 interviews that represent the wide range of experiences in black American life today. In Walking on Water, which was nominated for the Southern Book Award, Randall brings to his interviews, travels, and comments the deep heart, keen curiosity, and inquisitive imagination that make him one of America’s finest writers and commentators. A Visitation of Spirits was Randall’s first novel, published in 1989. His collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead (1992), was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was among The New York Times Notable Books of the year. He is also the author of a young-adult biography of James Baldwin and wrote the text for Norman Mauskoff’s book of photographs, A Time Not Here: The Mississippi Delta. His most recent book is a work of nonfiction, The Fire This Time (2007), and he wrote the biographical essay in the forthcoming A New Historical Guide to James Baldwin, in addition to editing The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin (2010). He also edited The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writes on Food. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award, Randall received the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy in 1997. He was a member of the editorial staff at Alfred A. Knopf publishers in the mid 1980s. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, Vassar College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Memphis. He now teaches in the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Read Randall Kenan’s Interview with Tiara Marchando.

Helen Elaine Lee

© Photo courtesy of MIT

Helen Elaine Lee — Fiction

Helen Elaine Lee is a novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, The Serpent’s Gift, was published by Atheneum, and her second novel, Water Marked, was published by Scribner. She recently finished Life Without, a novel about the lives of ten people who are incarcerated in two neighboring U.S. prisons, and The Hard Loss, a novel about a DNA exoneree’s first week of freedom after 24 years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit. Stories from Life Without have appeared in Callaloo, Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, Best African American Fiction 2009 (Bantam Books), and Solstice Lit Magazine. Helen is a member of the Board of Directors of PEN New England, and she serves on its Freedom to Write Committee and volunteers with its Prison Creative Writing Program. She has written about the experience of teaching creative writing in prison in a New York Times Book Review essay, “Visible Men.” Her short story “Lesser Crimes” was published in the spring of 2015 in the Boston Review. She is Writer-in-Residence with the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and Professor of Fiction Writing in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing department.

Visit her website.

© Diana Lucas Leavengood

Dennis Lehane — Fiction

Dennis Lehane is the author of numerous bestselling novels, including: The Given Day, Shutter Island, and Mystic River—winner of the Anthony Award for Best Novel, the Barry Award for Best Novel, and the Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction—in addition to the popular Patrick Kenzie series of Boston detective novels: A Drink Before the War; Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; and Moonlight Mile. His tenth novel, Live By Night, was published in October, 2012. Three of Dennis’ novels have been adapted for film: the Academy Award-winning Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood; Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck; and Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorcese. His short story collection, Coronado, features the story “Until Gwen,” the basis of his play “Coronado,” which premiered in New York City in December 2005. “Until Gwen” was also selected for The Best American Short Stories 2005, The Best American Mystery Short Stories 2005, and New Stories from the South 2005. Writer-in-Residence at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dennis is the co-director of the Writers in Paradise Conference, was a staff writer for HBO’s The Wire, and is a writer/producer on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He has taught fiction and literature at the Harvard Extension School, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and Tufts University.

Visit his website.

Grace Lin

© Alexandre Ferron

Grace Lin — Writing for Children Young Adults

Grace Lin, a New York Times bestselling author/illustrator, won the Newbery Honor for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the Theodor Geisel Honor for Ling and Ting. Her most recent novel, When the Sea Turned to Silver, was a National Book Award Finalist. Grace is also a commentator for New England Public Radio, a reviewer for The
New York Times, a video essayist for PBS NewsHour, and the speaker of the popular TEDx talk, “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf.” In 2016, Grace’s art was displayed at the White House where Grace herself was recognized by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling. An Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the U.S., Grace says her books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, “Books erase bias, they make the uncommon every day, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal.” Visit her website and/or read Grace Lin’s Interview by Jiao Fu.

Dzvinia Orlowsky

© Dzvinia Orlowsky

Dzvinia Orlowsky — Poetry

Pushcart-Prize winner Dzvinia Orlowsky is the author of six poetry collections, including Bad Harvest (2018) recently named a 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read” in poetry, Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, co-winner of the 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award, and Silvertone (2013) for which she was named Ohio Poetry Day Association’s 2014 Co-Poet of the Year. Her first collection, A Handful of Bees, was reprinted in 2008 as part of the Carnegie Mellon University Classic Contemporary Series. Dzvinia’s poetry and translations have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Agni, Field, Guernica, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, The Massachusetts Review, Antioch Review, International Poetry Review, Los Angeles Review, A Map of Hope: An International Literary Anthology, From Three Worlds: New Writing from Ukraine, A Hundred Years of Youth: A Bilingual Anthology of 20th Century Ukrainian Poetry, and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water in 2006, and in 2014, Jeff Friedman’s and her co-translation of Memorials by Polish poet Mieczyslaw Jastrun was published by Dialogos. In 2016, she and Friedman were awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship in support of continuing their translation work of Jastrun’s poems. A founding editor of Four Way Books (1993-2001), she is also a contributing editor to Agni and contributing poetry editor to Solstice Literary Magazine. She has taught poetry at the Mount Holyoke Writers’ Conference, The Boston Center for Adult Education, Emerson College, Gemini Ink, the Stonecoast Summer Writers’ Conference, the Stonecoast MFA Program, Writers in Paradise, and the Solstice Summer Writers’ Conference at Pine Manor College. In 2012, she accepted a one-year appointment as Adjunct Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Providence College and currently conducts poetry and prose poetry workshops as Guest Lecturer at the college. Dzvinia is a recipient and co-recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Grant as well as a Council’s Professional Development Grant, and most recently, New England Poetry Club’s 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize for her poem sequence titled “The (Dis)enchanted Desna.” She is Founding Director of Night Riffs: A Solstice Magazine Reading and Music Series. She lives in Massachusetts.
Read Dzvinia Orlowsky’s interview by Carrie Margolis.

Michael Steinberg

© Carole S. Berk

(in memoriam) Michael Steinberg — Creative Nonfiction

A native New Yorker, Michael Steinberg was a memoirist, personal essayist, and founding editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. He was also a Solstice Program writer-in-residence from our program’s inception in 2006 until his death at age 79 in December 2019. Throughout those years, Mike attended nearly every Solstice summer residency to teach a craft class, meet one-on-one with creative nonfiction students, and give a reading. One of his last wishes was that his Solstice legacy, the Michael Steinberg Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction—a $1,000 award given annually to a student entering the Solstice Program—would continue after his death.

Mike was as dedicated to mentoring and celebrating other writers as he was to his own work. He was also famous among his friends and readers for his love of baseball. In 2003, ForeWord Magazine chose Still Pitching as the Independent Press Memoir of the Year. Other works by Mike include Peninsula: Essays and Memoirs from Michigan, a finalist for both the 2000 Great Lakes Book Sellers award and the ForeWord Magazine/Independent Press Anthology of the Year; The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction (a co-edited anthology with Robert Root, now in its sixth edition); Those Who Do, Can: Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching (also with Robert Root); a co-edited textbook, The Writer’s Way; and I’m Almost Famous, a co-authored stage play. His personal essays and memoirs appeared in many literary journals and were cited several times in Best American Essays and Best American Sports Writing. His book Living in Michigan, Dreaming Manhattan: Selected Essays and Memoirs, 1990-2015, was a finalist for the 2018 Michigan Notable Books award. His last collection, poems and paintings titled Word Painting, was co-created by his beloved wife of 56 years, the visual artist Carole Steinberg Berk. Mike taught writing and literature at Michigan State University for more than thirty years; and from 1990-94, he co-directed the Michigan State University Overseas Writing Program. From 1985-1993, he was the co-founder/director of the Traverse Bay Reading and Writing Workshops for Teachers. After retiring from Michigan State, he was a guest writer at several universities, as well as at national and international writing conferences—including the Paris Writers’ Workshops; the California State University Fine Arts Festival; the Geneva (Switzerland) Writers’ Conference; the Prague Summer Writing Program; the NYU Summer Writing Intensive; the Chautauqua Writer’s Conference; the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference in Homer, Alaska; and the Nonfiction Now International Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. He also judged the PEN New England and the AWP Award Series book prizes, among others. Mike will long be remembered for his ability for honest self-reflection, his generous heart, his genuine enthusiasm for good writing, and his support of fellow artists. His is deeply missed.

Visit his website and/or his blog.

M.L. Liebler

© Photos by Alex Lumelsky

M.L. Liebler — Consulting Writer

M. L. Liebler is an acclaimed poet, university professor, literary arts activist, arts organizer and an award-winning educator. He was awarded the 2010 Barnes Noble Writers for Writers Award, bestowed by the literary magazine Poets and Writers to honor authors who “have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community.” He is author of thirteen books, including the award-winning Written In Rain: New Selected Poems 1985-2000; The Moon In a Box (which includes a CD of his performance poetry); Greatest Hits 1984-2005; a bilingual edition (in Russian and English) of The Fragrant Benediction of Life, and Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream (Wayne State University Press), featuring poems written in and about Russia, Israel, Germany, Alaska, and Detroit. His recent working class literary anthology, Working Words: Punching the Clock Kicking Out the Jams (Coffee House Press), was selected as a Michigan Library Notable Book for 2011. On behalf of the U.S. State Department, he has read, performed, and taught poetry in such countries as China, Russia, Israel, Germany, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Britain, Wales, and elsewhere, including almost every state in the USA. In 2005, he was named the first Poet Laureate of his hometown, St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He has taught English, creative writing, labor studies, and American studies at Wayne State University since 1980. He is the founding director of both The National Writer’s Voice Project in Detroit and the Springfed Arts: Metro Detroit Writers Literary Arts Organization. He was selected at Best Detroit Poet by The Detroit Free Press and Detroit Metro Times, and he is the nation’s first-ever artist in residence for a public library, the Chelsea District Library (2008-2009). M.L. is available to consult with MFA students and prospective students who are interested in pursuing a third-semester, applied-track internship.

Visit his website.

© NAACP 2012

Renée Watson — Writing for Young People

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her children’s picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. She has given readings and lectures at many renown places including the United Nations, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Embassy in Japan. The New York Times calls Renée’s writing, “charming and evocative.” Her poetry and fiction often centers around the experiences of Black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender.

Her books include young adult novels, Piecing Me Together and This Side of Home, which were both nominated for the Best Fiction for Young Adults by the American Library Association, and Watch Us Rise, co-written with Ellen Hagan. Her picture book, Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills received several honors including an NAACP Image Award nomination in children’s literature. Her one woman show, Roses are Red Women are Blue, debuted at the Lincoln Center at a showcase for emerging artists.

One of Renée’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and discuss social issues. Her picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen is based on poetry workshops she facilitated with children in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Renée has worked as a writer in residence for over twenty years teaching creative writing and theater in public schools and community centers through out the nation. Her articles on teaching and arts education have been published in Rethinking Schools and Oregon English Journal. She is currently a writer-in-residence at The Solstice Low-Residency Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College.

Renée has also worked as a consultant within the non-profit sector, specifically around teaching for social justice and the role of art in social justice, providing professional development workshops and leadership trainings to artists, staff, executives, and board of directors. Some of her clients include Carnegie Hall, DreamYard, Lincoln Center, RAW Art Works, and Literary Arts.

Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon and currently lives in New York City.

Consulting Writers

Author Jacqueline Woodson

© John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Jacqueline Woodson — Consulting Writer

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of a number of books for children and young adults, including the 2014 National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming, Each Kindness, Beneath a Meth Moon; Peace, Locomotion; the Newbery Honor books After Tupac D Foster, Show Way, and Feathers; Miracle’s Boys, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (made into a six-part television miniseries, directed by, among others, Spike Lee); Hush, a Finalist for the National Book Award and the American Library Association (ALA) “Best Book For Young Adults”; Locomotion, also a National Book Award finalist, a Horn Book Award Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; and If You Come Softly, named a Best Book for Young Adults by the ALA. Her picture book The Other Side has won many awards, including the Texas Blue Bonnet Award and a Child Magazine Best Book Award; it was also named an ALA Notable Book. Her recent titles include Red at the BoneThe Day You Begin, and Harbor Me. She also adapted Locomotion as a play, and the stage version premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in October 2010. Jacqueline has received several additional honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, an Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, two Jane Addams Peace Awards, three Lambda Literary Awards, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, a Granta Best Writer Under Forty Award, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 1994, and a number of ALA Best Book Awards. She also served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress from 2018 to 2019. A former drama therapist for runaways and homeless children in New York City, Jacqueline has taught fiction at the Vermont College MFA in Creative Writing Program; The City College, City University of New York; Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program; the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp; and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She resides with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit her website.

Director and Staff

Solstice MFA Founding Director Meg Kearney

© Gabriel Parker

Meg Kearney (pronounced “car-nee”) — Founding Director

In June 2021, The Word Works Press will publish Meg Kearney’s All Morning the Crows, winner of the 2020 Washington Prize for poetry. Meg’s most recent collection of poems for adults is The Ice Storm, a heroic crown published as a chapbook by Green Linen Press in 2020. Her full-length collection of poems, Home By Now (Four Way Books), was winner of the 2010 PEN New England LL Winship Award; it was also a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. The title poem of Home By Now is included in Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems: American Places anthology (Viking Penguin 2011). Meg’s first collection of poetry, An Unkindness of Ravens, was published by BOA Editions Ltd. in 2001. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey chose Meg’s poem “Grackle” for the 2017 Best American Poetry anthology. Meg’s poetry has also been featured on Poetry Daily and Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac,” and has been published in such publications as Poetry, Agni, and The Kenyon Review as well as myriad anthologies.

Meg is also author of a trilogy of novels in verse for teens—all published by Persea Books and all of which come with teacher’s guides: The Secret of Me, The Girl in the Mirror; and When You Never Said Goodbye. Her story “Chalk” appears in Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short Short Stories. Meg’s picture book, Trouper (the three-legged dog), was published by Scholastic in November 2013 and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Winner of the 2015 Kentucky Bluegrass Award and the Missouri Association of School Librarians’ Show Me Readers Award (Grades 1 – 3), Trouper was selected as a notable book by many educational organizations. For eleven years prior to launching the Solstice Program, she was Associate Director of the National Book Foundation (sponsor of the National Book Awards) in New York City. She also taught poetry at the New School University. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the New Hampshire Council on the Arts (2010-2011) and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in three times. Recipient of 2001 Artist’s Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Meg also received a New York Times Fellowship and the Alice M. Sellers Academy of American Poets Award in 1998. She is a former poetry editor of Echoes, a quarterly literary journal, and past president of the Hudson Valley Writers Association of upstate New York. Meg currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and their rescued coon hound named Winston; their three-legged cat, Hopkins; and their four-legged cat named Magpie.

Visit her website.

Photo of Quintin Collins by Jasen Sousa

© Jasen Sousa

Quintin Collins — Assistant Director

Quintin Collins is a poet, writer, and editor. In his professional career before becoming the Solstice MFA Program’s Assistant Director, he spent more than five years in the digital marketing field, where he applied his expertise to managing and developing teams of writers and executing editorial content strategy for clients of various industries, most notably higher education. During that time, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing for Poetry from the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. Quintin attributes his success in publication to the many educators he has had on his path to his current role. As a result of their guidance, he has had work appear in numerous print and online literary journals, as well as the anthology A Garden of Black Joy: Global Poetry from the Edges of Liberation and Living. His accolades include a Pushcart Prize nomination, Best of the Net nominations, and being a finalist for the 2020 Alice James Award. Quintin’s first full-length poetry collection, The Dandelion Speaks of Survival, is forthcoming from Cherry Castle Publishing in 2021. Visit his website for more information.

Solstice MFA Program intern and fiction student Megan Leduke

© Paul Kilian

Megan Leduke — Intern

Megan Leduke is an illustrator, writer, and creator from the woodlands of New Hampshire. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration from Montserrat College of Art and currently attends the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program, where she studies fiction and is enrolled in the Pedagogy Track. Inspired by literature and the natural world around her, Megan’s work often revolves around the meeting of humanity and the wilderness in a dark dance of folktales and twisted psychological occurrences. Her mixed-media approach to creating spans across the world of visual art, film, and storytelling, and she has penned everything from short stories to comics, screenplays, and essays. She is currently writing her first novel. An advocate for inclusivity, compassion, and the arts, Megan strives to create environments of inspiration and enthusiasm. In her class, one can expect to find a supportive educator with passion for narrative and a dedication to helping others develop their best writing selves. Megan is a published illustrator, with a back-cover design for Rattle+Rictus, a poetry collection hosted by Pen & Anvil, and a front-cover design for the January 2020 edition of the Maximum Tilt Anthology. She was a featured gallery artist for her illustrations in 2019, and she was a Student Leader at the Montserrat Leadership Summit the same year. Her other accolades include: the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (Honorable Mention, Silver and Gold Keys), Coe-Brown Northwood Academy’s Annual Film Festival (Best Picture Award 2014), Montserrat College of Art’s Foundation Award (2016), and Montserrat College of Art’s Liberal Arts Award (2019). She taught her first class, Piecing it Together: Structure and Plot in Fiction, in 2020. She is currently an intern with the Solstice MFA Office. Visit her website for more information.