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Letter to the University of Southern Maine: Save the Stone House

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(Note: this is a letter I sent to the University of Southern Maine in favor of keeping the Stone House.  This is a house in Wolf’s Neck State Park in Freeport, ME overlooking the ocean. The property is used by the Stonecoast writing program where I received my MFA.  The school is currently considering selling this property. They shouldn’t.)

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To Whom It May Concern:

Hearing about the potential sale of the Stone House by The University of Southern Maine was some of the worst news to come through my inbox and Facebook newsfeed and Twitter feed in some time. The sale found its way to every corner of my social media world. The one place I didn’t see the news of the potential demise of the Stone House was in the obituary page of the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. That’s what this boils down to for me. If USM sells the Stone House they are effectively killing Stonecoast. At least my Stonecoast, my MFA.

I chose to attend Stonecoast over other top tier programs because of the community and the environment. This includes the faculty and a trip to Ireland, but my decision was based on where the learning would take place. The Stone House was that place. To write, critique and talk about writing in a historic, secluded site is a huge part of the process. Immersion. That atmosphere, as much as the students and faculty makes a degree from Stonecoast worth more than other schools.

Taking that away makes for a world where students going forward won’t be able to talk about what the Stone House was to them. Take away the Stone House and you don’t just take away the identity of the program, you relegate it to past tense. What the Stone House was. Do the right thing. Allow the future of Stonecoast students and faculty alike to realize their writing while knowing what the Stone House is.

If the obituary metaphor didn’t do the trick here’s one more. Taking away our house might be a budget decision for some, for you, but in reality you’re booting us from our home. So call it what it is: eviction. You might still choose to remove us from where we live as writers, but if you do, spare us the double speak. We see through it. We’re writers. A skill we honed in a beautiful, historic mansion. You might have heard of it.

Sincerely,

Michael Barry

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