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For Release: IMMEDIATELY Contact: Beth Little, Assistant Director (617) 731-7697

[Chestnut Hill, MA, May 2019] At the start of each semester, the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College hosts a 10-day residency on our campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. A select number of classes are open to serious writers who wish to audit graduate-level Craft, Criticism, & Theory (CC&T) courses. Auditors are asked to commit to doing the preparatory work and required reading for each class attended. Each class is two-hours long and costs $45.

The deadline for registering to audit classes during our summer 2019 residency, scheduled for July 5 -14, 2019, is Monday, June 17, 2019. Please read our class audit policy before you register online.

You can see the bios of our faculty and guests here:–staff and

Here are the available courses for audit:

(Note: We will send you copies of required readings that we have available for each course.)


Faculty Member: Renée Watson Class type: CC&T

Saturday, July 6: 1:00-3:00 p.m. Location: President’s Dining Room

Narrative Voice is not only about what point of view our stories are told in, but also what our characters notice and how they describe what they notice. In this workshop, we will learn how to develop the narrative voice of teenaged characters by considering how gender, social economic status, ethnicity, educational background, culture, and experience all work together to shape the voice and tone of a story.

Required Reading: A handout will be distributed in class.

Reading Questions:

  1. What should authors consider when deciding what point of view to use? What types of stories work best for first person, third person, or multiple voices?
  2. How do the gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, educational background, culture and experience of the main character shape the narrative voice?

Re-speak, re-feel, re-see, re-invent, re-listen, re-collect, re-write….REVISE!

Faculty member: Laure-Anne Bosselaar Course type: CC&T

Saturday, July 6: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Location: Haldan 205 

The focus of this talk (followed by a Q&A and/or conversation) will be the solitary process of revision: how can we acquire the tools we need to revise work on our own? After graduating, many writers with an MFA find it challenging to revise without the help of a workshop group or mentor. Students will learn how to strengthen and hone revision skills which systematically, and in great depth, address all the elements of a poem — with (one hopes) enough distance as to be able to agree with Wordsworth and define poetry as “an intense emotion recollected in tranquility.”

Required: Please bring fifteen 5X8 index cards


Guest faculty member: Zack Rogow Class type: CC&T

Sunday, July 7: 1:15 – 3:15 p.m. Location Haldan 136

In the dramatic monologue, an author writes in the persona of a fictional character or real person who speaks directly to the reader or another character, often telling a story. This poetic form also appears in films, theater, and fiction as a soliloquy or monologue. The class will start with a brief survey of the form:

• Rise of dramatic monologue in the poetry of Robert Browning

• Importance of the form in poems of Edgar Lee Masters and Edward Arlington Robinson

• Eclipse of the dramatic monologue in the age of confessional writing

• African American poets who sustained the form, such as Langston Hughes and June Jordan

• Revival in recent years

Students will write a draft of a dramatic monologue of their own.

 Questions to consider: Are there advantages to writing in the voice of a person different from yourself? Who is the monologue spoken to and how does that influence the writing? How can an author honor the concerns of a speaker different from herself/himself without appropriation? What role does dramatic monologue play in film, fiction, and drama? What are the limits to/dangers of writing in another person’s voice?

Required reading (will be send to you ahead of time)

Edgar Lee Masters, selections from Spoon River Anthology:

“Minerva Jones,” “Harry Wilmans,” “Hortense Robbins”

Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son,” “Theme for English B”

June Jordan, “Unemployment Monologue”

Robert Thomas, “Ensenada Wedding”

For further reading:

Robert Browning, “Andrea del Sarto”

Edward Arlington Robinson, “Miniver Cheevy”

Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool”

Tyehimba Jess, “martha promise receives leadbelly, 1935”


Faculty member: Randall Horton Class type: CC&T

Sunday, July 7: 1:15 – 3:15 p.m. Location Haldan 205

Plot in memoir often focuses on the protagonist, or narrator. This class will examine how the memoirist’s plot produces subplot. What is subplot and how does it guide the memoir? We will discuss how identifying chaos will lead you to plot as well as examine the overall arc of memoir as it relates to plot and subplot. What are some transitional techniques used to bridge plot and subplot? We will ask and answer these questions and more.

Suggested reading:
Brothers and Keepers by John Edgar Wideman.

Yellow Black: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet’s Life by Haki Madhubuti


Faculty member: Anne-Marie Oomen Class type: CC&T

Sunday, July 7: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Location: President’s Dining Room

Place is the magic character in most literary writing, but it’s often oversimplified and underplayed. Place is not just setting, not merely where and when. A true sense of place underpins, informs, and shapes both character and plot. How do we handle place, and what do we do when the place in evolving texts is large, unwieldy, or simply too overwhelming to write efficiently or with literary insight? How do we get inside the magic of place? How might we write the essence of place through “place within place”? How might the nested landscape reflect, shape, and create an inner landscape for your characters? In this class, you’ll have a chance to discover your place within place.

Reading note: How might the concept “place within place” make place more literary and symbolic? And manageable? What are the craft elements of this strategy?

Required readings (will be sent to you ahead of time):

Memoir: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Elizabeth Tova Bailey. pgs 3-15

Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr. pgs. 3-12

Poetry: Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude. Ross Gay, Pgs 82-92

Suggested additional readings, especially for nonfiction writers:

The Signature of All Things. Elizabeth Gilbert. Viking 2013. Hardcover. Pgs. 66-69

Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World. Kathleen Jamie. Pgs 1-18

An American Map. Anne-Marie Oomen. Wayne State University Press 2010. Title essay, “American Map”


Faculty member: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich Class type: CC&T

Tuesday, July 9: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Location: President’s Dining Room

In this workshop, we will explore the various ways that writers can incorporate humor into their fiction through character, voice, premise, and more. We’ll discuss: what makes humor work in different genres of children’s literature? How does a writer authentically appeal to her audience? We will use short writing exercises, readings, and conversation to examine how writers build stories where the funny isn’t forced, and spend time looking at the powerful effects of “purple”: blending funny and sad elements for full-bodied fiction.

Required Reading:

One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams Garcia

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey

Also required: Bring a joke to class—one you find hilarious, or one you think doesn’t work, or both.

Additional Suggested Reading:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple

The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963, Christopher Paul Curtis

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances, Lenore Look

Reading Questions: Where does the humor come from (character, voice, premise, etc)?

Discussion Questions: Why do we laugh? What did you find funny at 10, 15, 25, etc.? (books and other media included — television, film, etc.) What do you notice about your sense of humor? What is your comedy audience? Does certain humor have a time/place? Is anything timeless?


Faculty member: Laura Williams McCaffrey Class type: CC&T

Thursday, July 11: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Location: President’s Dining Room

We often discuss character and plot as two separate entities. We need to develop both, and we need to fit one into the other—either fit a character into a plot, or fit a plot into the life of a character. However, there is another way to look at the relationship between plot and character. We might say a plot is, fundamentally, a story of a character—a story that grows because of a character’s desire and her attempts to fulfill that desire. Sometimes she understands and acknowledges this, and sometimes she acts without truly comprehending her motivations. In many cases, she has both acknowledged and unacknowledged desires she strives to fulfill. The plot isn’t a separate entity the author imposes on the character; it is a fundamental part of the character and comprised of the actions she takes. In this class, we’ll examine how plot might grow from character; and how it can be developed from who the character is, what she wants, and how she takes action to get what she wants. As part of our examination, we’ll discuss obstacles characters struggle to overcome, another fundamental aspect of plot. The class will include presentation, discussion of texts, and writing exercises. Attendees should also come prepared to discuss plotting problems specific to works-in-progress. They can bring these in the form of questions or pieces/examples.

Required Reading: 

Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl.

Percy, Benjamin. “Refresh, Refresh” (also on Moodle) ( Note: “Refresh, Refresh” has also been adapted to a graphic novel. You can read this as well, but we will be discussing the short story in class. (The Moodle version contains some of my notes—don’t be distracted by that!)

Suggested Reading: 

McKee, Robert. Story.

Butler, Robert Olen. “Yearning.” From Where You Dream.

Reading questions:

What is the character’s central, motivating desire at the story’s start? How is this made clear in the text?

What is the obstacle that the character takes action to overcome?

How do the character and the obstacle alter over the course of the story?

How do the events in the story’s middle relate to the character’s desire at the start of the story?

How do the events in the story’s end relate to the character’s desire at the end of the story?


Guest faculty member: Rashin Kheiriyeh Class type: CC&T

Thursday, July 11: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Location: Haldan 136

A picture book tells stories by way of verbal and visual pacing that work together to draw children in and encourage them to take an active role in the reading process. In this class, we’ll discuss the process of making a picture book from the story idea to the final product. How can writers and illustrators collaborate more efficiently to create a stunning picture book? That question and more will be discussed as Rashin Kheiriyeh shares her experience of being both an author and an illustrator. She’ll also discuss about the importance of diversity in children’s books and look at some picture books as examples.

Suggested Reading: 

Look at some of your favorite picture books and take notes on their verbal and visual pacing. If possible, bring the books along with your notes to class.

Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. Somerville: Candlewick, 2018.

Willems, Mo. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. New York: Disney Hyperion, 2003.


Guest Faculty member: Jason Lutes Class type: CC&T

Thursday, July 11: 3:15 – 5:15 p.m. Location: President’s Dining Room

Before written language existed, people drew pictures, everywhere. Representational drawings evolved into pictograms, and some pictograms were abstracted into phonetic symbols which could be strung together to form words. The medium of comics takes these now apparently disparate elements—the picture and the word—and reunites them to create a form of expression greater than the sum of its parts. Using his books Houdini: the Handcuff King, Jar of Fools, and Berlin as examples of different approaches to visual storytelling, cartoonist Jason Lutes will take students through his personal process of conceiving, researching, writing, and drawing a graphic novel. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this unique art form? How do the physical constraints of the printed book impact creative decision-making? Are improvisational and consciously structured narratives mutually exclusive? Using his books as a springboard, Lutes will also lead students in a wide-ranging analysis and discussion of different approaches to storytelling, with digressions into what can be learned from such inspired creations as Ursula le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, the film Star Wars: A New Hope, and the tabletop role-playing game Dungeon & Dragons.

Suggested reading (in order of potential utility):

Houdini: the Handcuff King, by Jason Lutes

Jar of Fools, by Jason Lutes

Berlin, by Jason Lutes

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula le Guin

Tintin in Tibet, by Hergé

I Never Liked You, by Chester Brown

Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, by Ben Katchor 


Faculty: Josh Neufeld Class type: CC&T

Friday, July 12: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Location: Haldan 205

This class will delve into the realm of comics storytelling. We’ll discuss the constraints of the form—and the almost limitless narrative possibilities inherent within those restraints. In the majority of graphic narratives, scenes are the building blocks of storytelling, and we’ll discuss structuring comics that focus on action and dialogue (as opposed to narrative captions) to move forward. We’ll explore showing vs. telling vs. implying, encapsulation, and Scott McCloud’s theories of word/picture combinations and panel choices. We’ll also get into the rhythm of comics, how the size (and shape) of panels on a page affect readers’ experiences, including their sense of time. In an in-class exercise, we’ll work on shaping a prose narrative into a comics script.

Required reading (will be emailed to you):

  • Scott McCloud, Making Comics, chapter 1: “Writing with Pictures,” pp. 8–53

Suggested reading (on Moodle):

  • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, chapter 6: “Show and Tell,” pp. 152–161
  • Jessica Abel & Matt Madden, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, chapter 11.1: “Panel Design” (pp. 150–159)
  • Ivan Brunetti, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pp. 45–52 (the “democratic grid” and the “hierarchical grid”)
  • Will Eisner, Comics & Sequential Art, particularly Chapter 4: “The Frame,” and Chapter 6: “Writing & Sequential Art”

Reading question: What do you think of McCloud’s theory of panel types and storytelling choices? How do your own creative processes fit into those models?

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