Life After Goucher
After graduating from Goucher in 1999 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in creative writing, Stewart earned an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Maryland.
"Part of why I do what I do is simply that—it's what I do," says English and creative writing graduate Christine Stewart. "Writing is how I process the world and my experiences in it. I have an active mind that needs information and inspiration everyday. Writing provides that."
After graduating from Goucher in 1999 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in creative writing, Stewart earned an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Maryland. Then, it was off to California for two years to teach, write, and spend time with friends on the west coast. But when it came to finding an environment where she could focus intensely on her passion for writing, Stewart ended up back in Baltimore.
"I've always loved Baltimore's artistic and cultural community," says Stewart. "In Los Angeles, there are an endless number of arts organizations, artists, and writers all vying for money. Artists and writers here aren't trying to impress and be in the spotlight, they're simply creating, following their unique vision, and sharing it with the community. I realized Baltimore was the best place for me."
This past year, Stewart became the first-ever writer-in-residence at the Creative Alliance, a community-based, non-profit organization promoting the arts in Baltimore.
Through a three- year program, the Alliance allows artists to take up residency at the historic Patterson Theatre in Baltimore, refurbished in 2003 to serve as the organization's home base and multi-purpose arts center. Resident artists are allowed to use the organization's space and resources to reinvigorate their work in an intensive atmosphere.
"They had never had a writer before, and they weren't sure how well received a writer-in residence or a writing program would be," says Stewart. " So, we talked about it. I said, ‘If you decide not to go with it, I understand,' but they decided to try it, and brought me in."
Since then, Stewart has been working to create a literary arts presence in the Alliance community. In addition to using the organization's resources to work on her own writing, Stewart holds weekly writing classes and workshops. She also mentors young writers in individual writing sessions.
Before landing her position at the Creative Alliance, Stewart volunteered with Venice Arts and Write Girl, two non-profit organizations dedicated to bringing the arts and writing to children and teens in Los Angeles. She also taught at Pasadena City and Los Angeles Valley colleges.
Stewart says she hopes that she can draw on these experiences in her efforts to get people thinking about the Alliance as a place for writers.
During her time at Goucher, Chris was honored with a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, an accomplishment she says she would not have achieved without the help of her professors.
"The professors at Goucher are very accessible and very willing to work with you and help guide you above and beyond the regular curriculum, and really take an interest in what you're doing," says Stewart.
Stewart's work has appeared in several literary journals, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and Five Points. Two new poems appeared in the November 2005 issue of the online literary magazine, Blackbird.
In addition to her life-long commitment to writing, Stewart's future plans include continuing to teach and mentor aspiring writers. She also hopes to get more involved in the Baltimore writing community.
"Maybe you're a great writer, and maybe you're not, but you have to earn that," says Stewart. "Writing has to be something that you never give up, that you would do even if no one ever liked or published your work. I don't want to project that writing isn't fun and playful. It is, and it can be. But, at heart, I'm serious about it, and I want others to be as well."