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Susan Stinson

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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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June 6th, 2015

02:43 pm: Denver Post 1978
I just found this picture from 1978. I had just placed in the Denver Post high school fiction contest. That was such a big moment for me. They published the story in the paper, and I felt recognized as a writer.

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09:49 am: Bridge Street Cemetery Tour Saturday June 13
The Ward Three Neighborhood Association & Historic Northampton
invite you to join local author Susan Stinson for a
Tour of Historic Bridge Street Cemetery
Saturday, June 13th at 11 am
Knowlton Brothers Stereoview, late 19th century
Tour of Historic Bridge Street Cemetery with Susan Stinson
On Saturday, June 13, 2015, the Ward Three Neighborhood Association will sponsor a tour of Bridge Street Cemetery led by local author Susan Stinson.  The tour will begin at 11 am at the cemetery entrance on Parsons Street.  Ms. Stinson will focus primarily on the oldest parts of the cemetery.
Cemetery Preservation Efforts

Gravestone at the Bridge Street Cemetery
This broken gravestone
at the Bridge Street Cemetery is one example of the cemetery's preservation needs.
This tour is the first event of a long-term program to inform residents and visitors about the wonderful history of the cemetery.
The Community Preservation Committee and the Northampton Department of Public Works (DPW) have fully funded a study by local landscape architect Martha Lyon that will result in a comprehensive plan for the restoration of the cemetery.
The comprehensive plan will focus on:

  • the gravestones,

  • the cemetery landscaping and surrounding fence,

  • how to provide more information to visitors and

  • public access to this city owned space.

Bridge Street Cemetery
The DPW is appointing a city-wide committee to work with Ms. Lyon and the DPW.  There will be public forums to gather community input.
When the study is complete, Northampton residents and the city will have rough budgets and recommendations that will allow our citizens and the City to understand the options for cemetery restoration.  This study can also be used as the basis for further fundraising.  The photograph of the Bridge Street Cemetery at right shows several deteriorating gravestones.
Tour Guide Susan Stinson
Author Susan Stinson
Susan Stinson is the celebrated author of Spider in a Tree, a novel about Northampton in the time of Jonathan Edwards (Small Beer Press, October 2013).  Ms. Stinson is the outgoing Forbes Library writer-in-residence. As writer-in-residence, she coordinated the library's popular reading and lecture series Local History/Local Authors from 2010-2015. On May 30, 2015, Ms. Stinson was awarded the Forbes Library Trustees Award for exceptional community service.  Ms. Stinson has received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Benjamin Franklin Award in Fiction as well as a number of fellowships.  In spring 2014, she was a visiting lecturer at Amherst College.
Other Events at Historic Northampton

Archaeology Public Day, Saturday, June 6, 2015
The final public day at the Parsons House Community Archaeology Dig is Saturday, June 6th from 10 am to 2 pm. Project website

Letters from Away: An Exhibition by Elizabeth Pols
This Contemporary Art at Historic Northampton exhibition inspired by 19th century sloped writing desks closes June 7th at 3 pm. Artist's Interview on MassLive

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May 9th, 2015

07:26 pm: Trustees Award Saturday May 30 2 pm
Here is the press release about the ceremony for the Trustees Award at Forbes Library.

I'm getting it this year! It's the Twenty-eighth time they're presenting it. It's a sweet thing to be honored by our local public library I'm reading, and so is Diana Gordon, who was the first Writer in Residence, and Naila Moreira, who is the next one. I'm stepping down as Writer in Residence in June.

If you live nearby, it would be lovely if you could come.

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