American horror author Stephen King said, “Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.”
Next week, Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus will host a creative writing open house and student/faculty reading, happening in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Slated for Wednesday, December 6, at 6 p.m., the event, brought to you by the Lichtenstein Center Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literature program, allows members of the East End community to experience firsthand what the program offers plus an opportunity to hear readings of excerpts from the work of both faculty and participating students.
“This event is to celebrate writing and each other,” says Christian McLean, senior lecturer and director of the Southampton Writers Conference. “It can be lonely,” the Sag Harbor resident says of the profession, “but so much happens in that time when the writer is alone. This event is about writers having a community. Being in person for that is important.”
Set to take place at Chancellors Hall at the Southampton campus, the open house will allow attendees to meet with faculty and MFA students to learn about the program’s curriculum. There’ll also be opportunities to gain information about the admission process as well as financial aid options. “Students are still interested in taking things online, participating online,” McLean says. “It’s a really good chance to talk about the nuts and bolts of the program, plus to get some student testimonials.”
Readings from both faculty and students in the program start at 7 p.m. in the Rakoff Studio. Notable faculty members set to share their work include Susan Scarf Merrell, Amy Hempel, and McLean while faculty members and prominent writers Molly Gaudry, Paul Harding, Kaylie Jones and Christine Kitano are also slated to be on hand. According to McLean nearly all the faculty live out on the East End full time, further solidifying their vital role as a resource of living, working writers within the master’s program. “The East End has always been an incredibly important place for writing,” McLean says. “It’s a special place and it makes this program another extension of that history.”
According to a press release from SBU, “The Lichtenstein Center MFA in Creative Writing program is committed to nurturing the next generation of literary voices…. the program offers a rigorous and inspiring environment for emerging authors. Stony Brook University is ranked the number 1 public university in New York and the flagship of the State University of New York system.”
While the format of the creative writing program has shifted a bit due to the pandemic, with more virtual events and classes occurring and ultimately reaching more people outside of the state of New York, McLean notes there are presently about 60-something students in the program, with about a dozen people teaching. While courses cover form of different writing styles there’s also classes that explore the business side of writing, particularly “what the publishing world looks like,” along with arts management, marketing, design and software.
“There’s nothing more important for writers than learning how to put their work out into the world,” says novelist and faculty member Merrell. “I love the way the faculty and students share this event because in this writing business, we’re all teachers and students all the time.”
Chancellors Hall is located at 239 Montauk Highway in Southampton. The open house and readings are free and open to the public. To register, click here. For more information call 631-632-5007.