Patricia O’Donnell
Professor of English

Director of the Creative Writing program
M.F.A., University of Massachusetts at Amherst
M.A., University of Northern Iowa
B.A., University of Northern Iowa

Professor of English Patricia O’Donnell says all classes in Fiction Writing and Creative Writing are discussion-based, not lecture-based. So in addition to reading and analyzing the stories of published contemporary writers, she focuses on developing the work of her students through workshop discussion.

In small classes — limited to just fifteen students — Pat leads the class in giving specific, supportive critiques that hold the bar high for students, yet help them to achieve more of themselves than they may have thought possible.

In addition to short writing assignments, Patricia’s students write and revise two complete short stories. Students in her Advanced Fiction class will start the semester by studying and writing “Flash Fiction,” very short fiction limited to one or two pages.

Students in her Advanced Fiction class read from their stories at the yearly UMF Symposium Day, highlighting student work. As part of the Senior Seminar class, students give a public reading from their work, open to the campus and community.

Outside the Classroom: Innovation and Excitement — Putting Theory into Practice

As Director of the UMF Creative Writing Program, Patricia also coordinates the student Writing Apprenticeships. Here, she helps students find hands-on work at the on-campus poetry press, Alice James Books, or The Beloit Poetry Journal and The Aurorean, both located off-campus in Farmington.

Other Writing Apprenticeships she oversees allow students to write for local newspapers such as The Franklin Journal, The Daily Bulldog, The Sun Journal, and the student newspaper, The Farmington Flyer. Pat’s Creative Writing students have also gained hands-on experience editing the UMF literary journal, The Sandy River Review, Ripple (UMF’s feminist ‘zine) and working for the Maine Arts Commission, Echoes magazine, and other publications.

Many University of Maine at Farmington students take active roles in the UMF Writers’ Guild, a club of students interested in Creative Writing, which is open to all majors. Meetings are held on the third floor of the Creative Writing house, a comfy place with beanbag chairs and pillows. One of the Writers’ Guild’s activities is publishing the literary magazine, The Sandy River Review.

Patricia has traveled with a group of Farmington students for the past few years to the Associated Writing Program conference, held in various cities across the United States.

A True Academic — Areas of Special Interest

Patricia says she has a deep and abiding love for good literature of all kind, but especially the contemporary novel and the short story. Her focus is on the contemporary American short story.

Respected in the Field — Noteworthy Accomplishments

Pat’s novel, Necessary Places, was recently published by Cadent Publishing. She has had short stories appear in a variety of publications, such as The New Yorker, Agni Review, The North American Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Literary Review, The Short Story, The Eloquent Edge, Women Running: Stories of Transformation, and other journals and anthologies. She received the Martin Dibner award for short fiction.

Outside of Academia — Personal Interests and Activities

Outside her busy academic life, Patricia says some of her favorite activities include: reading, kayaking, jogging, yoga, walking the dog, steeping tea, shoveling snow, stacking wood, contemplating her mortality, trying to distinguish whether her dog is merely smiling at her or jeering, watching the resident snake at her camp eat frogs, waiting for loons to resurface, and taking delight in her three children and two grandchildren.

She also enjoys traveling. Recently trips include one to Rome, Sardinia, and London. She lived for a semester in Cape Town, South Africa and for a semester in London.


Patricia O’Donnell lives in the neighboring town of Wilton, Maine with her husband, UMF Professor of English Michael Burke.