Newport MFA will hold virtual residency, public readings and craft talks
Salve Regina’s low-residency Newport MFA, founded in 2018, is celebrating its very first graduating class in the summer of 2020. And because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Newport MFA is holding its upcoming residency virtually June 20-27. The residency will also feature public readings and craft talks for anyone to participate in.
Graduating from the Newport MFA
2020 has been a historic year for such a new program, and for the first 10 graduates of the MFA, the journey of being the first graduating class in the midst of a pandemic has been both rewarding and challenging.
“It’s been such a joyful and rewarding experience for me,” said Katie Hughes ’20 (M) of her experience within Salve Regina’s MFA program.
Hughes, who is from Rhode Island and went to Providence College for a bachelor’s in theater and writing, said that doing the low-residency Newport MFA just felt right to her — as Newport has always been in her backyard and she was working full time and needed the flexibility. She hopes to become an adjunct professor as well as continue to write essays, and she has been published on McSweeney’s, a daily humor website.
“Inspiring and grueling,” were words that Sandra Taylor, another graduate of the program from Newton, Massachusetts, used to describe her experience in the MFA. She heard about Salve Regina’s MFA from one of the adjunct faculty members, Alden Jones — an award winning author — while taking an essay class with Jones.
“If you’re committed to becoming a better writer and put your all into the program, you will work harder than you imagined and make more progress than you thought possible,” Taylor said. “At the same time, you’ll be raising the bar for yourself, so just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll realize there’s still so much more to learn.”
To graduate from the two-year MFA, each student must complete five residencies alongside course work done from their homes — and residencies are held in Newport, Rhode Island, and Havana, Cuba.
Due to the pandemic, next week’s residency will be hosted in a virtual fashion. Hughes, Taylor and other graduating students of the MFA are required to read a portion of their own work and to give a craft talk during the residency.
While the virtual format didn’t seem ideal at first, it does have its advantages. For one, graduating students are able to invite friends and family from across the country to watch their readings and craft talks, which would not have been possible if the residency had been in its normal format.
Readings & Craft Talks Available to the Public
For anyone who is not part of the Newport MFA residency, there are several public readings and craft talks by well-known writers and editors that anyone is invited to attend during the virtual residency.
Beth Ann Fennelly Reading & Craft Talk
Reading: Saturday, June 20, 2020, 7:00 p.m.
Craft Talk: Sunday, June 21, 4:00 p.m.
Beth Ann Fennelly, poet laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: “Open House, Tender Hooks,” and “Unmentionables,” a book of nonfiction, “Great with Child,” and “The Tilted World,” a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin. Her newest book is “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs.” Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.
Register for the reading by Fennelly here.
Register for the craft talk with Fennelly here.
Melissa Febos Reading & Craft Talk
Reading: Thursday, June 25, 2020, 7:00 p.m.
Craft Talk: Friday, June 26, 4:00 p.m.
Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “Whip Smart,” and the essay collection “Abandon Me,” which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Esquire, Book Riot, The Cut, Electric Literature, Bustle, Medium, Refinery29, The Brooklyn Rail, Salon, The Rumpus and others. Her second essay collection, “Girlhood,” will be published by Bloomsbury on March 30, 2021.
Register for a reading by Febos here.
Register for the craft talk with Febos here.
Conversation with Dan Jones
Thursday, June 25, 5:00 p.m.
Daniel Jones has edited the New York Times’ Modern Love column since it began in 2004, and he now manages the franchise it has become. This includes two weekly columns, three books (“Modern Love,” “Love Illuminated,” and “Tiny Love Stories,” a forthcoming collection of the column’s 100-word feature), a weekly podcast with nearly 100 million downloads in its first four years, “Modern Love Live” events and an Amazon TV series entering its second season. Jones lives with his wife, writer Cathi Hanauer, in Massachusetts and New York City.
Register for the conversation with Jones here.
Featured photo by Getty Images/golubovy