Local author Sophfronia Scott has been awarded an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.
The Sandy Hook resident was listed this week among 51 writers, musicians, and visual artists receiving funds totaling $149,000. The Artist Fellowship Program provides competitive grants to encourage the continuing development of Connecticut artists.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Ms Scott. “There’s a ton of talented artists living in Connecticut so the competition for these grants is tough. I’m honored the Office of the Arts saw fit to recognize and support my writing.”
The Office of the Arts, as noted on the ct.gov site, is the state agency charged with fostering the health of Connecticut’s creative economy. Part of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of the Arts is funded by the state of Connecticut as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. The Artist Fellowship Grants are awarded annually.
Ms Scott’s grant will help fund her current writing project, a nonfiction book tentatively titled The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton, about the famous Trappist monk and author of The Seven Storey Mountain who died in 1968.
In her fellowship application, Scott wrote that the project “documents my engagement with the writing, specifically the personal journals, of the monk Thomas Merton as I meditate on issues both personal and social. In the fifty years since his death Merton has been placed on a pedestal with the titles of ‘prophet’ and ‘mystic.’ But in culling through his journals, which he began as a young man, I have found a very human kindred spirit who, like all of us, struggled with faith, ambition, race, politics, materialism, environmentalism, and even love.”
The book is slated for publication in the spring of 2021 by Broadleaf Books, a new publishing imprint recently launched by the Minnesota multimedia company 1517 Media. According to its website, Broadleaf Books “is committed to expanding the mind, nourishing the soul, cultivating the common good. Our books inspire transformation in readers and their communities to foster a more open, just and compassionate world. Rooted in the progressive Christian tradition and reflecting the diversity of human creativity, we publish books that engage readers in fresh, substantive, timely and inspiring reflection on what it is to live with meaning and connection.”
Ms Scott moved to Sandy Hook from New York City in 2005 with her husband, Darryl Gregory, band director at Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford, and son, Tain, currently a sophomore at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven.
She began her writing career as a journalist for Time and People magazines. When her first novel, All I Need to Get By, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2004, she was nominated for best new author at the African American Literary Awards and hailed by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr, as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation.”
Ms Scott earned a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing, fiction and creative nonfiction, from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her latest novel is Unforgivable Love (William Morrow). She is also the author of an essay collection, Love’s Long Line, from The Ohio State University Press’s Mad Creek Books and a memoir, This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World, co-written with Tain, from Paraclete Press.
Her essays, short stories, and articles have appeared in North American Review, Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Saranac Review, Numéro Cinq, Ruminate, Timberline Review, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Sleet Magazine, NewYorkTimes.com, More, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her essay “Why I Didn’t Go to the Firehouse” is listed among the Notables in Best American Essays 2017.
Ms Scott teaches at Regis University’s Mile High MFA and Bay Path University’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction. She has also hosted the Connecticut Authors Reading Series at C.H. Booth Library and delivered craft talks and held workshops at the Yale Writers’ Workshop, the Madeleine L’Engle Conference, Antioch Writers’ Workshop, Meacham Writers’ Workshop, and the Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
Ms Scott is currently enrolling students for her classes starting February 26 at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport; her annual writing retreat, The Write of Your Life, which will take place in Veneto, Italy, September 20-26; and A Circle of Quiet, The Madeleine L’Engle Writing Retreat slated for November 13-15 at the Camp Washington Retreat Center in Morris, Conn. Her website is Sophfronia.com.