Noepe has a very simple mission: to provide established and emerging writers with time and space to create, and the resources and community to support, encourage and inspire writers at all stages of their writing career.
Founded in 2007 by poet Justen Ahren, Noepe was originally housed in the Point Way Inn in Edgartown. In 2014, Noepe was named one of the top 20 residency programs in the United States. For over ten years it provided time and space to more than 300 writers across every genre. Noepe hosted readings and classes by poets and writers such as Billy Collins, Marie Howe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jennifer Clement, Fanny Howe, Jennifer Tseng, Geraldine Brooks and many more. Our past faculty includes Claire Messud, Bret Anthony Johnston, Richard Zacks, Annie Finch, Natalie Handal, Elizabeth Rosner, Emma D. Dryden, James Wood, Justen Ahren, and Mary Otis. More than one hundred novels, books of poetry, plays, screenplays, memoirs and works of non-fiction as well as countless articles and anthologized stories and poems have been published by our alumni.
With the sale of the Point Way Inn in 2017, Noepe sadly lost its home. While Justen looked to find a new location for Noepe, he became immersed in his own creative adventures - bringing photography, activism and music to his writing. In the meantime, Mathea Morais, another writer living on Martha’s Vineyard, who took classes and attended many events at Noepe, deeply felt the loss of the center. In the fall of 2018, she approached Justen and Ann Smith, Director of Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs, to see if there was a way to bring Noepe back to the island. Featherstone had recently remodeled their campus to include a glorious new gallery and many class/studio spaces and Mathea had the time and passion to run the program. It was decided that Noepe would have a new home and a new director. Everyone involved saw this partnership as the next natural step.
The word Noepe is often thought to be the original Wampanoag name for Martha’s VIneyard. However, we recently discussed the use of this name with the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project in Mashpee and learned that, according to their master linguist, it is likely not a Wampanoag word but rather a word from a northern sister Algonquian language meaning 'in the middle of the water.” Based on this information, the people at the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project felt it made sense to carry on with the use of this name for our center.
As of 2019, Noepe is now located on the beautiful campus of Featherstone Center for the Arts. It continues to serve as a writing retreat, workshop space, a place of learning and creativity, and as a community in support of writing and the literary arts. It is also a venue for readings, author talks, and other literary events.
Mathea Morais, Director, Noepe Center for Literary Arts- Mathea Morais is a fiction writer, teacher and journalist. Her work has been published in “The New Engagement,” “Slush Pile Magazine,” “Anti-Heroin Chic” and “Disclaimer” Magazine. She has also written for “Trace Urban Magazine,” “The LoganSquarist,” “Martha’s Vineyard Arts & Ideas,” “The Martha’s Vineyard Times,” and was the local editor of “Martha’s Vineyard Patch.” She has been teaching English and Creative Writing to children and young adults for over ten years. Her debut novel, THERE YOU ARE will be published by Amberjack Publishing in Fall 2019.
Justen Ahern, Founder, Noepe Center for Literary Arts- Justen is a poet, photographer and musician and workshop facilitator. He founded Noepe Center for Literary Arts in 2007 and the Italy Writing Workshop in 2012. He is the current Martha’s Vineyard Poet Laureate and was West Tisbury, Massachusetts Poet Laureate from 2013-2016. Justen lives on Martha’s Vineyard and offers a writing workshop, Cultivating a Daily Writing Practice in Orvieto, Italy each November.
Noepe Advisory Panel
We are so grateful to our Advisory Panel who help advise Noepe Center for Literary Arts on programming, workshops and events.
Dawn has owned Bunch of Grapes Bookstore for over ten years, and prior to that she was the event coordinator there. Dawn has lived on the island full-time for thirteen years. Other than championing literary arts for many years, her loves are her seven grandchildren!
Shelley is a member of Featherstone Center for the Arts’ Board of Directors. Her writing portfolio is a variety pack of corporate communications, magazine features and essays, public radio commentaries and her book: The Wedding Guide for the Grownup Bride (Berkeley Books, 2000). She lives in Oak Bluffs and daylights as an island real estate broker.
Fan and Justen Ahren have curated and coordinated “The Summer Festival of Poetry” at Featherstone for over ten years. Fan is the former Poet Laureate of West Tisbury. She has two books of poetry: You and Knot: A Life, and one book of poems and paintings: Easiness Found. Fan worked for three years at the Dukes County House of Correction, where she published two volumes of poetry by the inmates. She is now facilitator of the Cleaveland House Poetry Workshop, the oldest continuous poetry group in the USA.
Jennifer Smith Turner
Jennifer makes her home on Martha’s Vineyard as a full-time islander after many decades as a seasonal resident. She is an entrepreneur, former non-profit and corporate executive and public official. Her first poetry book, Perennial Secrets, Poetry & Prose, was published in 2003. Her second book of poetry, Lost and Found, Rhyming Verse Honoring African American Heroes, was released in 2006. Her work has been published in numerous newspapers and periodicals.