New literary journal, Mason's Road, focuses on the art of writing



Image: Mason's RoadMason's Road, a new online literary journal with a teaching twist, has just launched its inaugural issue. Sponsored by Fairfield University's new MFA in Creative Writing program, the first issue of masonsroad.com features contributions by 27 emerging and established writers, including work by Pulitzer-prize winning author and screenwriter William Kennedy, renowned poet Rhina P. Espaillat, and award-winning essayist Lia Purpora.

Each issue will concentrate on a particular aspect of writing the graduate editors wish to study further. The first one, for instance, focuses on the "voice" or "persona" of characters and includes:

  • The work of artist Tinnetta Bell, selected for her ability to capture the "persona" of her subjects in a timeless, soulful fashion;
  • An audio interview with Michael White, program director, on using Voice/Persona in fiction; and
  • A Radio Drama Cliffhanger - a call for literature in audio format.

The journal will be publishing a variety of literary forms, including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama, visual art, craft essays, and audio interviews.

"We're thrilled with the mix of seasoned and emerging writers for our first issue, and the outstanding talent and diversity of the work represented," says Mason's Road managing editor Lisa Calderone, an MFA candidate in creative non-fiction from the first student cohort and the University's web communications editor. "Traditionally, literary magazines propel literature forward by offering writers a venue to practice their craft. Our hope is that Mason's Road, as an online-only literary journal, will also be a venue for ongoing conversations on the writing craft with the wider literary community."

Adds Michael White, seasoned author of seven novels and 45 short stories, and founding editor of two literary magazines, American Fiction and Dogwood, "Running a literary journal offers MFA students valuable insight into the often arcane and hidden world of publishing. Students not only hone their editing skills, they gain self-critical skills for their own writing."

Mason's Road will award a $500 prize to the best piece of creative writing published in the first two issues of the journal. Only selected work for the first issue (on Voice/Persona) and the second issue (Settings) will be considered, and only previously unpublished work will be eligible. Contributions to Mason's Road come in through a blind, open submissions policy screened by Fairfield graduate students and through solicitations managed by the editors and faculty advisors. No current Fairfield students or faculty are permitted to submit.

"After years of sending my work to literary journals, it's a kick to be on the editorial side of the process," says Chris Belden, fiction co-editor of Mason's Road and MFA candidate from the first cohort. "I now have more respect for the people who dedicate themselves, with little or no monetary reward, to publishing literature. And now that I'm under time constraints myself, I no longer feel so bad about receiving form rejections!"

Fairfield University's low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year program with concentrations in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and screen writing. The program involves four 10-day residencies at inspirational Enders Island, off the coast of Mystic, Conn. Launched in December 2008, Fairfield's MFA in Creative Writing has a current enrollment of 87 graduate students from across the country, and is the fastest-growing new graduate program at Fairfield.

"Whether the submission was well crafted or gibberish wrapped up with punctuation, I felt honored to be on the receiving end of a hopeful writer's heart in print," says Mark Berry, a creative non-fiction reader for the journal and an MFA candidate from the third student cohort. "In the end, some of the work awed me."

Fairfield University will celebrate the release of Mason's Road on Friday, Oct. 29, from 7-9 p.m., on campus with readings from contributors. The event will be open to the public.

Visit masonsroad.com for more information.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 1, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 31