NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Three professors from the College of New Rochelle’s new master of fine arts (MFA) program are helping members of the local community hone their literary skills this summer.
Nick Smart, professor of English; Daniel Smith, Critchlow Endowed Chair in English; and Steven Hobbs, MFA program director and assistant professor of liberal arts, are teaching free creative writing classes for adults and high school students at the New Rochelle Public Library.
The programs follow a successful writing series the professors taught at the library in spring 2016. The instructors rotate teaching responsibilities from week to week, working closely together to adapt the classes to the students’ needs.
“We’ve found that everyone is deeply engaged and very eager to work on their writing,” Smith said. “Most of them are readers already, which is half the battle. They are motivated and often just need the confidence that a class like this provides. We work on structure, form, sentences, and ideas and discipline unruly creative impulses while not diminishing them.”
“The library has great spaces for learning and attracts all of New Rochelle,” Hobbs noted. “Students share their responses to writing prompts and work on additional exercises if they choose. In the spring, several students came away with new material—one student even had finished a working draft of a memoir.”
Memoir happens to be one of the most popular genres among students.
“Often people want to tell stories that have happened in their own lives in an artful way,” Smith said. “They’re hungry for guidance and insight on how to craft this powerful raw material. I was able to get them thinking about their work in a way that’s more direct and careful.”
Hobbs added hat this new partnership between the college and the library is due in large part to the combined efforts of college President Judith Huntington and Barbara Davis, the library's community relations coordinator.
“We’re delighted to connect the MFA program with creative writers in the New Rochelle community,” Hobbs said. “The students seem to greatly enjoy the writing process and we instructors are always energized by their enthusiasm and creativity.”