Mark Farrington is the Program Director of both the Teaching Writing and the MA in Writing programs at Johns Hopkins University.
He has published several articles on the teaching of writing in the NWP Quarterly and Voice. His short fiction has appeared in CARVE, The Louisville Review, The New Virginia Review, and many other journals.
A native of New England, Mark now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Christina and their springer spaniel Maddie.
Chapters, Excerpts, and Readings From Mark's Fiction
A finalist for Character in the 2018 CRAFT Elements Contest, my latest short story plays with tense and POV to explore the relationship between a father and son, set against the backdrop of the controversial 1964 Clay vs. Liston fight.
Into the arena comes the somber and menancing figure of Charles "Sonny" Liston, aptly named the most frightening man in the world.
People said the war changed your father, but your mother disagreed. "It just gave him license," she said. You were six or seven when you heard her say this to her friend Angela, and you thought "license" meant driver's license and wondered, was he too young to drive but they let him because of the war?
You know now that license meant permission...Read the full story on CRAFT
This is the first chapter of a novel I have very recently finished and for which I am currently seeking an agent or editor. The novel grew out of the orignial short story "Motherlove," and if you read both it and this chapter, you'll see a lot of similarities.
Grown now and alone, Manion reaches for this one childhood memory: Eleven-years-old, trudging up a muddy mountain road on an afternoon of false spring, his feet sucking and slapping through the caramel mess, his unbuttoned coat flung open like a gunfighter clearing side arms.
Recently awarded an Honorable Mention in the Momaya Short Story Review and soon to be published in their 2018 edition.
If you like this story, you might want to read the interview I gave to Chrysalis Editorial about writing the story. The process of writing it definitely brought me closer to my father.
There was a time the boy stood beside his father. Eight years old, ankle-deep in fresh- fallen snow, on the wide concrete step outside the back door of the high school gymnasium. A few straggling snowflakes flitter from an oatmeal sky. The boy’s father takes off one glove, pins it in his armpit, and searches the brass key ring attached to his belt, isolating each key and holding it up to the diffused light of the street lamp behind them, because the light above the back door isn’t working...
“You hoped the summer before senior year would be uneventful, but your father ruined it by running off with a twenty-three-year-old to an artists’ colony in New Mexico. Your father isn’t even an artist. The twenty-three-year-old makes Native American jewelry, but you glimpsed her once, waiting beside your father’s car: blonde hair falling to her waist, blue eyes and rosy cheeks - hardly a Native American look. . .”
Things were going well with my girlfriend. Surprising, since we were both near forty and had never been married. Sara had one serious relationship, but the longest I’d been involved with a woman was five months. My fault, probably.
Something gets in my head, I can’t let it go. Like that piece of meat stuck between two teeth when there’s no floss handy; you pick and suck but never free it all...
Published in October Mountain: An Anthology of Berkshire Writers
Paul Metcalf, Ed.
She has an irrational fear of snakes. He wants to protect his new bride at all costs.
Better watch out for what’s hidden under the steps.
Published in Stress City: A Big Book of Fiction by 51 DC Guys
Richard Peabody, Ed.
“Jay’s mother died seven years ago, on Mother’s Day. . . . Her death raised myriad feelings in Jay. He felt abandoned and betrayed. He felt as if the earth had turned to quicksand beneath his feet. Like some medieval surgeon had carved a hole in his gut, reached in and grabbed the thing at the core of him, yanked it out and tossed it onto the scrap heap. And this: relieved...
“Now she stood in the middle of the living room of the house she’d died in. Jay had no doubt it was her, although he couldn’t say why, exactly. Her looks, of course. And something else that went deeper. She was his mother.”
Mark has taught at Johns Hopkins since 1998, first as fiction advisor and then assistant director of the MA in Writing program before becoming director of the new Teaching Writing program in 2016, and recently taking over as director of the MA in Writing program in July, 2018.
The Master of Arts in Teaching Writing Program is a flexible, part-time program of online classes and face-to-face residencies, infused with the prestige, quality and value of Johns Hopkins University.
The goal of the MA in Teaching Writing Program is to improve the teaching of writing and student writing at all levels, K-University, and in all disciplines.
Follow the M.A. in Teaching Writing Program on Facebook.
The MA in Writing Program offers concentrations in Fiction and Nonfiction and a myriad of courses in everything from Travel Writing to Novel Writing, and Screenwriting to Poetry, Memoir and Investigative Journalism.
The JHU graduate writing program reflects the school’s international reputation for academic rigor and creative innovation.
Follow the M.A. in Writing Program on Facebook.
For more than twenty years, Mark has been a Teacher and Consultant
with the Northern Virginia Writing Project (NWP)
as well as a member of their advisory board.
Three times he received the MA in Writing Program’s
Outstanding Teaching Award, and has also received
the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Advanced Academic Programs.
Mark has recently completed a novel, Manion in Darkness. Read the first chapter here.Read Mark's Full Bio
This is the nonfiction version of the fictional short story, “The Nest,” which was published in October Mountain: An Anthology of Berkshire Writers. I’ve also used this piece to build a writing exercise on teaching revision. You can access it here.Try Exercise
Every July, the Teaching Writing Program offers a 7-10 day residency on the best practices in the teaching of writing. The location changes year to year, and most years, Teaching Writing joints with students in the M.A. in Writing Program and the Science Writing Program for the Johns Hopkins Summer Conference on Craft. In 2017, the conference took place at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Check out the media below for more info
Interviews and Community
“When I first started writing fiction, I was young, and I told myself I wanted to write fiction but looking back, I’d say what I most wanted was to have written fiction. I cared about the product but didn’t much like the process. I tended to write only when I felt guilty, and I’d write only long enough until I no longer felt guilty. Then I’d stop writing and go do something I enjoyed.”
“Those feelings came mostly from the pressure I put on myself, and from wanting to be more an author than a writer. Things started to change when I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to produce something that would make others proud of me...”
“This was a difficult story to write, and I had no idea how it would be received. Someone once called me an “emotional writer,” which I agree with in the sense that of primary importance to me is capturing the emotional truth of my characters and the story.”
“My father passed away a few weeks before Confessions: fact or fiction? came out. He was 88 years old and had been sick for several months, so his death was not surprising. What did surprise me was the intensity of the sadness and sense of loss I felt. My father and I had always been friendly toward each other, but we had never been close...”