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Susan Stinson

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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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June 30th, 2015

11:02 am: The Liminal War by Ayize Jama-Everett
Just finished The Limininal War by Ayize Jama-Everett, which is the second in a series published by Small Beer Press. (They published my Spider in a Tree.) This book is brilliant. It works with history, memory, healing, violence, music, community, family in unbelievably fast-moving and compelling ways. There is a scene on a ship that involves slavery which is unforgettable. Read it last night, and just read it again this morning. I want to take it in as a model.

Here is an interview with the author that includes a playlist that you can listen to, if you want.

Here is the book's page at Small Beer, which includes a link to an excerpt.

I loved Liminal People, the first book in the series, too.

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June 27th, 2015

08:06 am: Look of Hate

Last night around eight, I went out on my trike. I had on jeans and an old brown tank top, hair pulled back. Thought it might be nice to be out for a little while in Northampton, where I knew folks would be out celebrating the US Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage for the whole country.

I rode past Heidi and Gina Norton-Smith, who were among the couples who brought the case that first legalized gay marriage in this country, here in Massachusetts. Gina waved and yelled, "Happy decision day." There were lots of people out, lots of police cars out.

I stopped to get a slice of pizza at a tiny place just up the street from where I'd heard that there was an official-ish party. When I walked in, three men with shaved heads and red eyes were sitting at a table in the middle of the room. They might have been a father and two sons. As I passed them to get to the counter, one stared at me with a look of intense hatred. He wanted to be sure I saw it. Red rimmed eyes. I went to the counter anyway, ordered a slice, walked back to sit down to wait. The other younger one looked at me as I passed behind him, and said, "Uggh." Stretched out, audible, with disgust. For me to hear. They all started laughing.  One of them said, "There's one."

I wasn't sure what to do. It's happened before, of course it has, hatred from strangers on sight. Mostly, though, the audible stuff is from cars or people walking by in the street, and everybody keeps moving. I went back to the counter.  I said that I wanted the slice to go. The guy there said okay in a kind of sympathetic way. Maybe he had been listenting? There was a woman with blue hair waiting by the counter; we didn't make eye contact.

I sat down again.  I watched the men's reflection in the window. worrying that they might damage my trike if they left before me. I had already paid for that slice. I left without it, and went a little bit shakily to ride back home. Saw three happy folks I knew, who all greeted me at the stop light. Woke up this morning thinking about that first look of hate, how I knew so well what it was, although, even at such a specific moment, not for certain, exactly, why.

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June 7th, 2015

01:55 pm: Fun Home and the Tony awards
Cheering so hard tonight for Fun Home the musical at the Tonys tonight.  Twelve nominations.  And it's brilliant.  Such a gift to see all of the great ripples coming out of the art Alison Bechdel made out of this complicated, difficult story of her family.  I feel her work continue to create openings in the culture in all sorts of ways even as she moves on to new projects.

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