When an idea is a great idea, it tends to seem completely obvious, even though no one has had the idea before.
That’s what a Mount Holyoke writing group is. A great idea that is completely obvious. Shouldn’t every club have a writer’s group along with their book club? Since Mount Holyoke produces graduates that rage from highly competent to superb in writing?
That’s where the Angled Road Project started, with the formation of the Mount Holyoke Club of the Puget Sound Writer’s Group in January of 2013.
The next little shove toward our project came when I saw that the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst was holding a session instructing attendees to produce facsicles like Emily Dickinson’s. I was struck by how low-tech it was, and at the same time how fully it honored and “published” Dickinson’s poetry. I was also drawn to the process for our writer’s group because of Dickinson’s connection with Mount Holyoke.
I proposed the project of an anthology put together like Dickinson’s bundles, and something happened to the air in the room. It got jangly, wired, powered by enlivened intellects. It seemed to me. It felt to me. We got so far as to figure out that we needed a name for the project and that it should come from Dickinson’s poetry.
And that’s how “The Angled Road” came to be!
Here are the current members of our group. We are very proud of all of our members, and welcome anyone who would like to join.
I’m Susan Cochran Swanson, Class of 1960. MHC gave me the confidence and skills to first realize and then strive to reach my potential. I joined the MHC writing group after meeting them at MaryAnn Sparklin Woodruff’s book launch party. It’s been fabulous. Meeting with this group of intelligent, fun and supportive group of MHC grads has been like inhaling a long, cold drink after crossing a desert.
I’m Mary Ann Sparklin Woodruff, class of 1960, author of the memoir The Last of the Good Girls: Shedding Convention, Coming Out Whole, in 2013 (www.facebook.com/Mary.Ann.Woodruff.Author). The cover image is from my sophomore year in Sycamores, an off-campus Mt. Holyoke dorm housing fifteen lucky women. Pledges from an Amherst fraternity came to serve us at a “gracious living” dinner, and we got gussied up for the occasion. The MHC writers’ group has been both an inspiration to me to keep writing and also a barrel of fun sharing our lives and writing together.
Mary Dowd Dicker, 1966
I am so grateful for Marjorie Kaufman, Professor of English Literature, who taught me how to read. I joined our local Mount Holyoke writers’ group hoping to find support and inspiration for my own writing (fiction, poetry). I’m currently living on an island not far from Seattle but far enough to find a slower pace of life and beauty all around.
I’m Jules Dickinson, MHC Class of 1977. My original reasons for selecting Mount Holyoke had nothing to do with women’s education but I’ve come to realize that this college, and its being a women’s college, was likely the most valuable experience I’ve ever had in my journey towards becoming a person. I joined this writing group in part to learn from others, their thoughts and their writing, so that I can become a better poet. I use poetry to help me get in touch with and express my feelings and thoughts; any improvement I can make in my writing experience improves me.
I’m Emily Dietrich, class of 1985, author of Holding True and mother of two. I loved walking back to the Mandelles in the fall, kicking leaves, thinking big thoughts, feeling aware, awake and alive. Surprised at the idea, I agreed to lead this writing group when our then club president, Lisa Tompkins ’82, suggested it–and then I was surprised again at how satisfying it has been. Making new Mount Holyoke friends where ever I’ve lived, I continue to benefit from my experience there, and expect I always will.
I’m Darla Willis Kennerud, class of 1989. I work as an editor in the game publishing industry and am the mom of two kids. I’ve had writing published by No Quarter Magazine and, more recently, Skull Island eXpeditions (skullislandx.com). Although I’ve been a writer since childhood, I’ve always struggled with balancing that part of my life with my role as an editor, and before that, an advisor. I worked in the MHC Writing Center (as it was known then) for three years and loved it, but I never worked with MHC women on my own writing. Older and hopefully wiser, I’m grateful to have that opportunity now. Whether light-hearted or soul-searching, discussions with MHC women are exhilarating, inspiring, and thought-provoking!
I’m Teri Kieffer Bicknell, class of 1989. In my spare time, I write short stories and novellas; by day I work for a small software company that serves nonprofits. I will never forget my first visit to Mount Holyoke. Late afternoon sun lit up the elegant nooks and crannies of the Highway 116 side of the Rockies. A woman passed by, smiled at me, and said, “Hi.” I felt completely welcomed, and the experience remained that way throughout my years there and beyond. I have experienced the same welcoming inclusion as a member of the MHC writing group, and I’m grateful to feel that kinship and connection again.
I’m Elizabeth Burr-Brandstadt, class of 1991, and I have spent my years since Mount Holyoke as both a teacher and a student. After teaching high school English for almost 15 years, I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast to start a new chapter, which included marriage and earning a PhD in Mythological Studies with a focus in Depth Psychology. Meeting other Mount Holyoke women and specifically participating in the writing group has been a joy for me, and has also encouraged me to explore my voice as a writer. Even though I now live in the Seattle area, Mount Holyoke will always be close for me; my education there continues to enrich and inspire my life. Please check out my personal blog at thresholdsofculture.com.
I am Greta Climer, class of 1991. Being part of our MHC Writing Group is like every other MHC experience I’ve had: nurturing, inspiring, stimulating, challenging and invigorating. Mount Holyoke continues to grow me in so many ways and will never cease. I am grateful for the connection and community of our amazing Mount Holyoke writing group!