Today in the follow-up to my interview with Emma Walton Hamilton (links in the sidebar), we’re looking at Emma’s involvement at Stony Brook Southampton University on Long Island. As many of you know, I attended the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference last year — and found it to be a wonderful experience both in terms of learning and of spirit-boosting encouragement.
Quoting from Emma’s website, in the “Meet Emma” section”– Emma is a faculty member for Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature Program, where she teaches children’s literature courses and serves as Director of their Children’s Literature Fellows program as well as the annual Southampton Children’s Literature Conference. She is also Executive Director of their Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP), an inter-disciplinary writing and creative arts program for middle and high school students on Long Island.
For today’s post, I’m hosting two women whom I met at the Children’s Literature Conference last July. Anjelica Whitehorne was part of the middle grade workshop with Kate McMullan — we sat next to each other and became good friends. She is an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) student at Stony Brook Southampton, and it is of that experience that she speaks in this post. Susan Verde was part of the picture book workshop with Peter H. Reynolds — she is the debut author I interviewed here recently, whose picture book is illustrated by Peter. I am delighted that they have shared with us their thoughts about Emma and Stony Brook Southampton.
So — let’s see what they have to say, shall we?
From Anjelica Whitehorne —
I took Children’s Literature with Emma at Stony Brook Southampton, and the workshop was one of the best that I’ve had. Emma gave us reading and writing assignments in Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult. I left the class with a thorough understanding not only of the markets for each of these KidLit niches, but also with an understanding of how to create literature for these genres. Emma is a hands-on teacher, and when we started studying a new genre, we read, and wrote in that genre. Because of Children’s Lit, I began a Middle Grade novel–a surprise to me, because Middle Grade had never even been on my radar– that ultimately became my thesis project, and I have been blessed to work on my thesis novel with Emma as my advisor. Emma’s instincts are incredible in that she sees through to the essence of works, and once she knows what the story wants to be, she works to bring that story out, to make it the best and most authentic version of itself possible. I feel so fortunate to have found my way into Children’s Literature, and to have found my way to these stories, and I don’t know how I would have found my way to my Picture Books and my Middle Grade novel without Southampton.
~~ ~~ You can find Anjelica at her blog, http://alwhitehorne.wordpress.com
Susan Verde —
As a former teacher with endless story ideas, a collection of work and high aspirations, and yet no clue how to proceed in the kidlit world Emma Walton Hamilton and her Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference were invaluable guides and completely transformative. I attended the conference and more specifically Emma’s picture book workshop in the summer of 2010 at Emma’s urging. She recognized that I had a story to tell and needed direction and guidance. Her talent, encouragement and support for teachers and their stories was what got me to sign up. Her own workshop got me hooked. For 4 days I was immersed in all things picture book. I learned about both the industry and how to tap into and develop my stories. At the end of Emma’s workshop I was inspired and motivated to continue on this path. The work seemed to flow.
The following summer I couldn’t wait to go back to the Conference! Emma encouraged me to take Peter H Reynolds’ workshop which was life changing. It was another spectacular workshop from a most talented author/illustrator who had already changed the lives of readers, educators and writers worldwide. And unbeknownst to me my life would be changing as well. Not only did his workshop tap into creativity and finding one’s voice but also ultimately it led to an incredible collaboration with Peter Reynolds and a published beautiful book called The Museum!
The Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference is one I look forward to each year. Emma has created a place, which brings together amazing writers and people in the children’s picture book industry and beyond. It is a place in which writers flourish, and get connected and inspired. Guest speakers and panels provide information found nowhere else under one roof. Emma understands what writer’s want to know and NEED to know and makes the information accessible to all.
The conference is infused with Emma’s voice, talent, knowledge and genuine desire for writer’s to learn hone their craft and get their work out into the world. I can’t thank her enough for this gift.
Thank you so much, Anjelica and Susan!
If anyone is interested in Stony Brook Southampton, you can find out more at these links:
Arts Summer (conferences in many genres of writing, as well as acting, directing, filmmaking, etc.)
Children’s Lit Fellows (One year, non-resident, certificate program)