Fireside is a program that connects our diverse community with innovative creative writing instruction and local literary history.
It is named after the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers—including Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—whose poems and stories were enjoyed by families sitting around the fire, as the story goes. The mission of Fireside is inspired by those poets: to send literature and creative writing out into the community, as a daily practice, and to highlight and build upon the renown and inventiveness of our literary history and culture.
What makes Mastheads Fireside unique is its link to local, literary physical spaces and its grounding in local literary history.
We use local writers, authors' houses, and the five Mastheads studios as inspiration for writing classes and workshops, helping students to see themselves as part of a vibrant local literary culture, and making creative writing feel concrete and familiar. We can show students: this author was sitting in this house looking at this mountain and here’s the poem she wrote about it.
Public School Residency
We currently partner with Morningside Community School in Pittsfield to bring poetry workshops taught by professional writers to third- and fourth-grade students. For our elementary school program, we create a workshop that makes creative writing feel significant, empowering, and fun. At the end of each workshop, we create an anthology of student work, and students give a poetry reading for family and the community.
It is in an oven
in the kitchen
in my house.
i cook my legs
and body into bacon.
- Dominic Lannon, 3rd Grade
The universe is poetry.
Poetry is the universe.
Is poetry the universe?
Poetry is a chocolate universe.
Poetry is a universe puppy.
- Niamonnie Artis Fountain, 3rd Grade
On the outside it’s plain and it’s dark.
It’s a creative house
or it’s not a house.
It smells like it was just painted.
All the plants wilted
and it’s a really big house.
I write inside of it and draw.
On the inside it’s pink of all things or colors.
There is a hallway.
There are holes in it so I don’t think it’s newly built.
There is a little pond and frogs.
It’s a small place.
There is a bird, a small one,
and there are more birds, too,
and a cactus.
When I get tired I go to bed.
When people come over I have rules:
Rule 1 Stay quiet.
Rule 2 Don’t kill.
Rule 3 Don’t even come in.
- Tru McNamara, 3rd Grade