Maine author Cathie Pelletier to teach creative writing courses at UMM

Posted Dec. 10, 2013, at 6:19 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Award-winning novelist Cathie Pelletier has been awarded a Libra Professorship and named Visiting Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing in Residence at the University of Maine at Machias for the spring 2014 semester. Her residency will support students in the creative writing concentrations within UMM’s Arts and Letters Division.

Pelletier also will coordinate and moderate a book club and host a series of public readings from guest authors, as well as read from her own works during the semester.

“We are incredibly excited to have Cathie join us for the semester,” said Kay Kimball, chair of the Arts and Letters Division, in a press release. “Her work has universal appeal and draws from life’s most common, yet profound experiences regarding family and community. She is also an engaging speaker and an experienced teacher whose residency will enrich our campus and our community.”

A native of the small northern Maine town of Allagash, Pelletier is the author of 10 novels, eight of which are under her own name, beginning with “The Funeral Makers” published in 1986. Her 11th adult novel is forthcoming in 2014, and her first middle-grade novel,” The Summer Experiment,” will be published in the spring.

Several of Pelletier’s books have been adapted for film, including “Candles on Bay Street”, which was a Hallmark Hall of Fame film starring Alicia Silverstone, and “Dancing at the Harvest Moon,” which was a CBS TV film starring Jacqueline Bisset, Valerie Harper, and Eric Mabius.

Two of her novels have received notable mentions from the New York Times Book Review. Her third, “The Weight of Winter,” won the New England Booksellers Award, and her last, “Running the Bulls,” was awarded the 2006 Paterson Prize for Fiction. She was also the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Maine and Westbrook College.

“I am so excited about coming to Machias, meeting the students and faculty, and getting to know the community,” said Pelletier. “It is a part of Maine I’m not familiar with and I look forward to a winter at the top of the ocean!”

Pelletier also has asked other accomplished writers to contribute to the workshops and book club. Three novelists, a poet, a journalist, a songwriter, and a photographer who does photo essays are lined up to visit the student workshops, while participants in the evening book club will discuss each book with its author via Skype or phone. One of those authors will be Terry Kay, whose novel To Dance with the White Dog was a Hallmark film starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

“I want students to feel relaxed in my classes,” said Pelletier. “They needn’t be aspiring writers right now. But maybe they’ll discover a talent for writing, for appreciating fiction, poetry, and even song lyrics since the roots of writing lie in old ballads. We will discuss many subjects as we practice the craft of writing. This kind of communication and experience will help them in any profession they may later choose.”

The spring semester begins Jan. 22. For information on registering for Pelletier’s classes, ENG 371 Intermediate Creative Writing and ENG 471 Advanced Creative Writing, call the UMM Registrar’s Office at 255-1330 or e-mailummreg@maine.edu.

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