Alumni Spotlight: Beth Peyton, MFA in Creative Writing '12, author of Clear Skies, Deep Water

ALISON JURAM D'ADDIECO - May 08, 2014

Beth Peyton's new memoir, Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir (SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions) has been called "A gentle, quietly moving memoir about the power of nature and the community to heal and inspire" by Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club.

Michael Steinberg, author of Still Pitching: A Memoir, describes it as a "perceptive and deeply sensitive human story."

Clear Skies, Deep Water depicts Peyton's quest for a sense of community after years of devastating personal and financial loss. It's also the published version of the manuscript she produced in completion of her MFA in Creative Writing at Carlow University—which she received in 2012.
 

Beth Peyton, MFA in Creative Writing 2012 graduate, author of Clear Skies, Deep Water
Beth Peyton, MFA in Creative Writing '12, author of Clear Skies, Deep Water   

With grace and poetry—and the warmth of a dear friend inviting you over for a cup of coffee—Peyton depicts human resilience, the beauty of the lake, and the humor and charm of life in a quintessential small town.

She's crafted one of those books you just can't put down.

"This book is an exploration about why this place felt like home," says Peyton. "The community really let us in and welcomed us."

Far from the tranquil life of Maple Springs, Peyton graduated from Montana State University with a degree in sociology and spent almost 20 years working with the sentencing of drug-involved offenders, first within the State of Delaware's criminal justice system and then nationally. But she also knew she wanted to write.

A writer's workshop at Chautauqua led Peyton to Carlow-where she says she was exposed to "some of the biggest names in nonfiction," along with mentors and fellow students who engendered a true sense of camaraderie.

"Ellie Wymard runs a really great program," says Peyton. "She pays attention to all the details. Students are exposed to the best, and the mentors are all very supportive."

Beth Peyton's new memoir, Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir (SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions)
Beth Peyton's new memoir, Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir (SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions)


She was also attracted by the opportunity to study in Ireland - one of the signature features of the Carlow program. The Irish literary tradition and creative use of language drew her in. "They cherish words," she says.

"I am grateful," she writes in her memoir, "for the ringing language of the Irish, and for that glorious sky that helped me see my own sky more clearly."

Peyton's manuscript mentor at Carlow was Jane Candia Coleman, award-winning author of 22 published books of fiction, poetry, and memoir and a five-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize.

Coleman calls Clear Skies, Deep Water a "love song to life, marriage, and the healing power of place. Honest, tender, at times hilarious, this is a memoir to be read and savored again and again."

Beth Peyton's new memoir, Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions
Look for Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir at a bookstore near you!

"Jane was terrific," recalls Peyton. "She helped me realize that writing nonfiction is really this interesting process of self-discovery, of finding your own voice, and of tying your own experience to something larger, more universal."

The publishing process is new for Peyton, but she's getting the hang of it.

Today, Peyton is immersed in the whirlwind that comes with having a freshly published book. She describes her current writing schedule as "sporadic," but her captivating stories, found on her blog at www.bethpeyton.com, visit some of the same individuals from her book-who readily welcome readers back to the transforming community that is Maple Springs.


Learn more about Carlow University's MFA in Creative Writing program