MCC to Host Alumni Writers as Part of Visiting Writers Series

November 10, 2023

Submitted by Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College will host alumni writers as part of the Visiting Writers Series. The event will take place at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 in the Bedford Campus Cafeteria with alumni Robert Castagna, Mathew H. Jones, Nora McClellan, and Lexi Halaby.

Castagna, of Medford, transferred to UMass to study English in 2022. A full-time photographer, he was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Photograph Fellowship and an Artist Resource Trust Grant. His book of photographs and poems that came out of multiple trips to the U.S./Mexico border was published in 2022. His photography and poetry have been published in literary magazines, such as Diagram, Dead River Review, Writ Large and The Watermark. 

“I loved my experience at MCC,” Castagna said. “I find that MCC is a very supportive environment and I appreciate the support and opportunity to share some of my ongoing work.”

Jones, of Lowell, has written five novels and two collections of short stories available on Amazon, including “Rules Don’t Apply,” “In the Hotel Zion,” “Somebody’s Monster,” “No Magic for Luke Peters,” “Kid Silver: Alone,” “Such Terrible Things,” and “Wish I Could Love You: A Collection of Failed Love Stories.” After graduating from MCC in 2013, he transferred to UMass Lowell to study African American Literature and Stories from the American South. He declared himself “the best blind, Black horror writer in the Merrimack Valley area.”

“Although there were some stops and starts, I cherish my time at Middlesex,” Jones said. “My primary community at MCC was through the TRiO Program, but I participated in the theatre, the anime club, internships, and a short-lived writing group.”

After transferring to UMass Amherst in 2022, McClellan works as a Writing Center Tutor and nonfiction/criticism editor for Jabberwocky. At MCC, she was an editor for Dead River Review, as well as had her poetry and creative nonfiction published. She was also the president of MCC’s Mad Queens Creative Writing Club.

“The MCC creative writing community means a lot to me, so it’s an honor to continue supporting it,” McClellan said. “I had an amazing experience at MCC. MCC is a fantastic option for students at all different points in their educational journey.”

At MCC, Halaby was a teaching assistant, co-president and copy editor of MCC’s zine Middleground, and an editor and contributor to the college’s online literary magazine the Dead River Review. She transferred to UMass Amherst to study linguistics and became the head poetry editor of Jabberwocky, the undergraduate literary journal. Published by UMass Amherst in 2018, her “My Arab World & other Poems” won the Jubilat Chapbook Competition.

The MCC Visiting Writers Series is co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program and the Office of Student Engagement.

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