Fairfield Welcomes Award-Winning Writers to Summer MFA Residency

Fairfield Welcomes Award-Winning Writers to Summer MFA Residency

author images

Clockwise from top: Celeste Doaks, Adam Johnson, and Sejal Shah.

Celeste Doaks, Adam Johnson, and Sejal Shah will be guest writers and speakers during the MFA in Creative Writing program’s Summer Residency at Enders Island.

Fairfield University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program will welcome three nationally recognized authors and educators to speak to students and faculty at this summer’s residency at Enders Island off the coast of Mystic, Conn.

Award-winning poet, editor, and journalist Celeste Doaks, lauded author and educator Adam Johnson, and cross-genre writer Sejal Shah will each give readings of their work and engage in dialogue with student writers during their intensive residency period of study that will be held in-person — for the first time since the start of the pandemic — from July 15-23, 2022.

“We are thrilled to return to our in-person setting on Enders Island,” said Carol Ann Davis, professor of English and director of the MFA program. “There is nothing like gathering together to learn, and to hear from our amazing visiting writers, who add so much perspective about how to cultivate a writing life in this fast-paced and difficult world. To pause, together, to take in the work of writing is its own kind of blessing.”

Celeste Doaks is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields (2015), and the editor of the poetry anthology Not Without Our Laughter (2017). Her chapbook, American Herstory (2019), was the first-place winner in Backbone Press’s inaugural chapbook contest; it contains poems about Michelle Obama and the art she chose for the White House. Doaks’ journalism and reviews have appeared in Ms. magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, The Millions, and The Huffington Post. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have been published in multiple print and online publications such as The Rumpus, Chicago Quarterly Review, BmoreArt Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review, and many moreA university professor for more than a decade, most recently she’s been a featured guest speaker and workshop leader at the Brooklyn Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). 

Adam Johnson is the author of Fortune Smiles — winner of the National Book Award and the Story Prize, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Orphan Master’s Son — winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the California Book Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Johnson’s other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship. He was also a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. His previous books are Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.

Sejal Shah writes across genres and disciplines. Her debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press), was named an NPR Best Book of 2020 and appeared on more than 30 most-anticipated lists. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared widely — including in Brevity, Guernica, Conjunctions, Longreads, and the Kenyon Review OnlineShe is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and fellowships from Blue Mountain Center, the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, Kundiman, and The Millay Colony. She holds a BA in English from Wellesley College and an MFA in English/creative writing (fiction) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Sejal recently completed a story collection with images and is working on a new manuscript about friendship, mentorship, illness, and mental health.

Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year program that brings together students, faculty, guest writers, editors, and agents in collaboration for the improvement of their craft. Students get the chance to develop their own literary voice, as well as establish important connections, which will lead to future publication. This is done through a series of workshops, seminars, and lectures, where students gain hands-on experience and work with an award-winning staff. Students gather for ten-day, intensive residencies. 

For more information or to apply to the program visit fairfield.edu/mfa.

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