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.