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Susan Stinson

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September 17th, 2016

05:55 pm: Edward Albee
I've been thinking about Edward Albee. We never spoke, but he got a Pioneer Award from Lambda Literary in 2011, the year I got an Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Award. His speech caused a stir because he said that he wasn't a gay writer, but a writer who happened to be gay. (Terrence McNally, the playwright who introduced him, said that he picked him up at a party way back in the day.) I was so full of joy that day, and he was surely part of that for me, since he made me part of his lineage by showing up for that honor, no matter what he said about it. I mean, I already was: I read Zoo Story in high school. I'd seen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I want to read or see the rest of his work, sooner or later. I got a stubborn, affectionate family feeling from him from the stage. May he rest in peace.

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July 27th, 2016

12:02 pm: Last night I stopped by the Tuesday farmers market behind Thornes. I wanted blueberries, and I got them. I also got some of those little orange tomatoes. Ran into Ruthy. She's part of Pedal People, and she has a show on Valley Free Radio about people who live around here. (I love that.) She recently read my first novel, Fat Girl Dances with Rocks, and she's going to interview me on the show on Wednesday, Aug 10, 4 pm.

Ruth was talking to another woman I recognized from years and years in the community, but whose name I've forgotten. She was in the process of getting a battery kit for her bike. Maybe we'll do a public forum and e-bikes and trikes sometime.

While we were talking, I dropped a little orange tomato, which split. Ruthy picked it up, said, "It's still good," then showed me that she was carrying a split watermelon. "Want some?" She broke it open and handed me a piece. Friends, it was yellow inside. I had never seen the like of it. It was sweet, cold, sticky and perfect. I rode home covered with juice.

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July 17th, 2016

04:54 pm:

This made me enormously happy. More about Venus of Chalk.
Thanks, Roxane Gay!

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July 7th, 2016

01:45 pm: People of the Whale, a novel by Linda Hogan
I just finished reading People of the Whale by Linda Hogan.  It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.  Here is a passage from a chapter in which an A'atsike man who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, grieving and frozen by the terrible things he did in the war, goes to the Vietnam War memorial in Washington:

There are many kinds of walls, like the wall Thomas built in front of the water. There are walls of history, and the secrets of history. There are ones no one can breach or climb, the invisible boundaries of humans. Some walls seem righteous instead of ruthless. They don't claim property or hold something in or out. They keep things separate, but now, in the District of Columbia, it comes together for Thomas Witka Just.

Here in this Washington is a wall of revelations. A strange word, Thomas thinks, like the end of the world in the Bible. But at The Wall, it is the ground he sees first, as if it is not possible to look up. So he sees a box of donuts; some boy's favorite food. On the ground, a baseball sits before this portion of the wall. On it is written, For Dad.  A batch of carnations sits, still in its wrapper, leaned up against the heat of it all. There is a letter to a soldier, even a gold button with a rhinestone on the ground as if to signify a blouse this man's hands once unbuttoned?

Momentos. Poems are engraved on plaques. Someone took such care to write them, to preserve them. There are now nearly sixty thousand names and the reflection of light on one whole side of it. In the place of America it shines. The whole crying light of it.

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April 17th, 2016

09:34 am: May 4 Reading: Please come!

Writing about Disability

The Modern Real and Surreal: Writers and Artists on Our Age

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 7 PM

Coolidge Museum at Forbes Library

Author reading followed by Q&A with:

Claire Blatchford, author of Coming to My Senses

Katherine Duke, author of Kissability: People with Disabilities Talk About Sex, Love, and Relationships

Susan Stinson, author of Venus of Chalk

Forbes Library is committed to providing universal access to all of our events. For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations please contact Lisa Downing at 413-587-1017 orinfo@forbeslibrary.org. Please let us know at least two weeks before the event if you require any special accommodations.

Curated and moderated by Forbes Writer in Residence Naila Moreira

Forbes Library ~ 20 West Street ~ Northampton, MA

~ www.forbeslibrary.org ~ 413-587-1011

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March 23rd, 2016

09:22 pm: May 1 Salon with Susan Stinson and Mistinguette Smith

A Straw Dog Writers Salon:
Balancing Solitude and Community in a Writer's Life
Northampton Friends Meeting House
43 Center Street, Northampton

May 1st  3-5 p.m.

Susan Stinson, writing coach, editor, and award-winning author of four novels, will join in conversation with Mistinguette Smith, poet, essayist, and director of The Black/Land Project, an organization that uses narratives to understand the nature of race, land, and place. Solitude can be a great gift to a writer. Isolation is not. Stinson and Smith will talk about strategies for building community that feed a writer's persistence, productivity, and joy in the work, even when working alone.

Susan Stinson is the award-winning author of Fat Girl Dances with Rocks, Martha Moody, Venus of Chalk, and Belly Songs. Her most recent novel is Spider in a Tree, about Northampton in the time of eighteenth century theologian, preacher, and slave owner Jonathan Edwards (Small Beer Press).  She has received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation and was the keynote for the 2015 WriteAngles Conference. From 2010-2015, she was Writer in Residence at Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Trustees’ Award.  MORE

Mistinguette Smith is a poet, essayist and director of The Black/Land Project, an organization that uses narratives to understand the nature of race, land and place. An alumna of the Cave Canem Writers Workshop, her work has appeared in the journals The Common, Rust, Pluck  and the anthologies Does Your Mama Know, Other Countries: Voices Rising, and the forthcoming The Relative Wild. A Buckeye by birth, she now lives in Northampton.

March 3rd, 2016

02:19 pm: January
I spent January at an international writing residency in Scotland. It was wonderful.  


September 21st, 2015

10:34 am: Write Angles conference interview

Novelist Ellen Meeropol interviewed me for the Write Angles blog.  I'll be giving the afternoon keynote and speaking on a panel, "Not in Polite Company," organized and moderated by Elli.

One thing I talk about in the interview is the very long path that Spider in a Tree, my most recent novel, had to its home at the fantastic Small Beer Press.  I came very close to giving up on that happy ending.

The conference is on October 17 (my birthday!) at Mount Holyoke College. The registrar has just announced that it may fill up this week, so anyone interested in going should register soon!

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August 18th, 2015

08:37 pm: MassLive Bridge Street Cemetery Tour video
Here's a link to a video by Laura Newberry on the MassLive website of brief excerpts from a tour I gave her of the Bridge Street Cemetery.  Northampton is looking into how to preserve and restore the cemetery.  The video includes my trike in action, which I always love, and includes a stop at a beautiful gravestone that is a portrait of a little girl.

Here's the link.  It opens with an unrelated ad:


Laura Newberrry's article on the preservation efforts is here:


Technical note: I can't figure out how to make links pretty on my MacBook without my old Semagic lj client.  If anybody can suggest a good client for a newish MacBook Air or give other types about the best was to give links and embed videos, I'm interested.

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August 2nd, 2015

11:09 am: Emily Dickinson Project
The The Emily Dickinson Project was delightful, so satisfying. We moved through the grounds and rooms of http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org (which is Emily Dickinson's house), led by an abundance of Emilys, who welcomed, planted, ran, sang, presided, forted themselves in with books, held down the kitchen, grieved and all so artfully. The most mysterious, most moving moments for me came from the dark climb up the spiral stairs to see her lit white dress (truly, Emily's dress), and then her small bedroom with an gray-haired Emily in a dress half made of paper, so that it looked as if she were becoming paper or coming out of paper, writing at her desk as three of the Emilys -- including Julie Rosier -- whispered and spoke words from the poems -- "immortality" is one that lingers with me -- so that the serious power of her work was gorgeously evoked in the room with her narrow bed, in the house and grounds with the elements, the personas, of her life.

I'll definitely be looking for TheatreTruck production in the future.

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