Manhattanville Opens Doors to Aspiring Writers


Manhattanville Opens Doors to Aspiring Writers

July 5, 2017 • Anonymous

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Writers descended on Manhattanville College's campus for the 32nd Summer Writers' Week to hone their craft and learn from award-winning authors—who told participants to stand up for their work in the face of rejection, to be undeterred by setbacks, and to keep writing.

Participants, many of whom lived on campus for the week, took their instructors’ encouragement to heart and formed a strong community for the week, carrying their energy forward in a “Haiku for Humanity” project and a planned journal of the week’s writing.

Writers’ week was sponsored by the College's Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program and ran from June 19-23. It featured a keynote reading by Joseph O'Neill, author of the novel "Netherland," which won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. O’Neill’s most recent novel, "The Dog" was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and named a Notable Book of 2014 by the New York Times.

At his presentation, O’Neill read an essay about attending Donald Trump’s 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss. The essay was published in the New Yorker in 2016, during the primary campaign.

Rivka Galchen, recipient of the 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and author of "Little Labors," and "Atmospheric Disturbances," also came to campus as a special guest for a craft session during the week.

Each day’s program for writers’ week included workshops by genre in the mornings, and special discussions and mini-workshops in the afternoons on such topics as graphic novel writing, mystery writing, structuring a poetry manuscript, writing for social justice and finding the voice in non-fiction writing. Faculty and student readings were held in the evenings.

Prof. Lori Soderlind, Director of the MFA program, said the event drew students from as far as Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Florida, and that a close bond formed among the participants.

“What truly impressed me the most was that this group really came together as a writing community, encouraging and supporting each other in their work,” Soderlind said. “That is really what our MFA program tries to nurture and was so great to see.”

The core workshop faculty included poet Melissa Tuckey, co-founder of the social justice arts organization Split this Rock; novelist Mitchell Jacskon, author of "The Residue years;” Michael N. McGregor, author of the biography "Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax;" screenwriter and author Sharbari Ahmed, a member of the writing team on "Quantico" and writer of "Raisins Not Virgins," and Meagan Brothers, author of "Debbie Harry Sings in French," a 2009 ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

In addition to Summer Writers Week, the creative writing program hosts numerous events throughout the year bringing award-winning writers to campus to read their work, answer questions and meet attendees. The program's events are open to the public and can be seen here.

The Manhattanville College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 36-credit program open to graduates of accredited institutions, and students are admitted based on the strength of their writing samples. The program can be completed in two years however students can work at their own pace, and courses are offered at nights to accommodate working people. Learn more here.