Graduate Student Profile: Mark L. Berry

Submitted by Web Communications on April 14, 2011

My fellow students range in age and life experience from a few who are straight out of their undergrad schooling to older folks like myself starting second careers. I’m a full-time airline pilot developing my writing skills and a career beyond retirement.

Mark L. Berry

Program: MFA in Creative Writing

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

ENDERS ISLAND CHARM

How could any serious student not thrive while living on an 11-acre island with 100-ish fellow students and faculty all dedicated to creative writing? Residency is the best use of my time away from my job all year, and it’s extremely fun. The days are packed, but I take breaks riding through the salt air on my motorcycle during the summer. Even in the winter I join my classmates dipping into the Long Island Sound on New Year’s morning from the snow-covered sand of “Polar Bear Beach.”

COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITIES

Between residencies we are a tight community on Facebook. Digication is expanding our online presence, where we can even build our own web pages to showcase our writing. My fellow students range in age and life experience from a few who are straight out of their undergrad schooling to older folks like myself starting second careers. I’m a full-time airline pilot developing my writing skills and a career beyond retirement. Since starting my MFA at Fairfield, my thesis has generated published stories in 5 publications, and I’ve become a regular contributor for Airways Magazine with chapters from my memoir. I also enjoyed being part of the original editorial team that launched the MFA program’s literary journal Mason’s Road. I started as a reader and have moved up to creative non-fiction co-editor; it has been an amazing, hands-on experience.

FACULTY MENTORSHIP

I love everything about this program, from the camaraderie of the students to the caliber of the faculty, who are all well published. We live, study, and socialize together for 11 days, twice a year, and become like family. My first two faculty mentors, Josip Novakovic and Leila Philip, were great and helped me complete my memoir. And I’ve worked and bonded with Lary Bloom and Da Chen so much during my residencies they feel like additional mentors. I’m excited now to be working with Kim Dana Kupperman; her editing skills challenged me as I prepared my memoir, Aluminum Parachute, for the Fairfield Book Prize competition.

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