Noepe Center for Literary Arts brings you the classroom


The new protocols and temporary closures were not enough to stop the persistent and creative efforts of the Noepe Center for Literary Arts. This island organization traditionally operates out of the Featherstone Center for the Arts, but when Featherstone temporarily closed as a COVID-19 precaution, Noepe had to adapt.

Since then, Noepe has hosted a myriad of virtual events including poetry, fiction, and various other writing workshops. Their June poetry reading, “Poetry in the days of quarantine and protest, ”Took place on Zoom in collaboration with Featherstone and Pathways Arts.

As summer draws to a close, Noepe will close the season with a pair of virtual workshops. Happening Now is a five-day series with award-winning author Hanif Abdurraqib, whom he calls “Thinking Beyond Genre”.

According to Mathea Morais, director of the Noepe Center for Literary Arts, this workshop aims to push the boundaries of the genre. “It’s about getting out of the idea that poems should be with poems and essays should be with essays,” Morais said.

Abdurraqib has written a variety of works, including collections of poetry, collections of essays, and music-oriented cultural critiques. With his diverse resume, Abdurraqib uses his platform at Noepe to teach hybrid form and original thinking.

Although “Thinking Beyond Genre” ends on August 7th, there is more to experience in Noepe. “The Young Ones: How to Write Young Adult Fiction” runs August 10-14, directed by author Lilliam Rivera.

Rivera is an award-winning writer, known for her novels for adults and young adults. Her virtual course will reflect this work, exploring fiction for young adults and the craft that brings it to life. “How do you develop that voice, how do you create these worlds? Morais said, naming a few workshop talking points. “How do you tell the difference between what would be an adult novel and what would be a young adult novel?” “

When Rivera’s workshop was first announced, Noepe planned to charge $ 250 per person, with a limit of 12 students for the course. However, thanks to the generosity of the owners of House Narragansett and an anonymous donor, Noepe was able to offer scholarships for Rivera’s course to six writers of color.

Noepe asked those interested in receiving a scholarship to email the center with a letter of interest, biography and description of an ongoing project. The deadline expired on August 5 and the scholarship winners are due to be chosen shortly.

Noepe announced the BIPOC Writers Inkwell Scholarships “taking into account the disparities in the number of books written by Blacks, Natives and People of Color (BIPOC), on BIPOC characters,” according to an email sent to the Noepe mailing list.

“Last year the owners of the Narragansett House supported Noepe by housing our teachers and two students and paying for their workshops,” Morais said. While a virtual setting negates the need for housing, this year’s scholarships are a form of kindness and support that spans all platforms.

Even though these workshops are closing, there are more Noepe on the horizon. While there are no specific plans for September, Morais hopes to continue offering classes online.

“I think it’s an amazing way to bring people from all over the world together. We had people from England, Canada, California, Florida, ”Morais said.

For Morais, this wide spread is exactly what she had hoped to bring to Noepe when she took over as director in 2019. “It used to be a very closed place and perfect to have a writing center,” said declared Morais. “When I brought him to Featherstone I knew I wanted to rearrange part of his vision. “

Morais recounted coming to Noepe for the first time as an active woman and mother. With plenty on his plate, Morais understood how the chaos of everyday life could prevent some from participating in an intensive program. She hoped to bring Noepe’s experience to even busy people.

“I wanted to make it as accessible as possible, and I also wanted to bring more variety to the writers of Martha’s Vineyard,” Morais said.

Morais was quick to express his admiration for the island’s writers, but believes diversity is the key to moving forward. “We need outside voices. We need people from other spaces that we haven’t written to in the past 15 years to look at our work, talk to us and give us new ideas, ”said Morais.

The new Noepe virtual center for literary arts may not be quite ideal – according to Morais, there’s nothing quite like a room full of writers – but the change has its benefits.

“It has made these writing courses accessible to more people, and at the same time, it brings people from all over the world to work with Island writers. It’s really exciting for me, ”said Morais.

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