Coming Home


An alumna who specializes in poetry is among the newest assistant professors to join MCLA's English/communications department.

For Melinda (Mindy) Dow '95 of Stockbridge, Mass., poetry is her "true voice," which she uses to communicate her perspective.

"I love writing poetry because it is a beautiful art form to express my observations and thoughts on things in my life," Dow explained. "When I think thoughts in my head, I think in imagery, not sentences. I always have. I feel impressions of things and people and gain deep understanding based on feeling and observation. Then I have to try to find the words to express what I'm taking in. I take in far more than I could ever express."

Dow fell in love with poetry at the tender age of 3.

"My grandmother and mother used to read Mother Goose rhymes and Robert Louis Stevenson's 'A Children's Garden of Verses' to me," she said. "I started writing poetry when I was 7.  I've never stopped."

Five of her latest poems recently were accepted for publication in the Wilderness House Literary Review's autumn issue.

"I'm most excited because they tend to publish poems related to the natural world and they are an award-winning small press," she said. "The editors accepted the poems the same day I submitted them. They loved them, which was awesome!"

Previously self-employed as a freelance writer and education consultant, Dow earned her Master's of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, with a concentration in poetry, at UMASS-Amherst.

She decided to come to MCLA after seeing a position was available for an assistant professor of creative writing and literature.

"I was thrilled because I went to school at MCLA when it was North Adams State College, and had the most inspiring and nurturing educational experience of my life," she explained. "When I was 19, sitting in Abbot Cutler's 'Contemporary American Poetry' class, feeling inspired, I realized I wanted to do exactly what he was doing."

It wasn't until Dow was hired that she realized she had filled the position previously held by Cutler, who recently retired. "When I discovered that, the entire idea of what had just occurred was significant, incredibly special and heartbreaking, as I was not going to be teaching alongside Abbot. Instead, I was taking over for my mentor." 

According to Dow, "MCLA has always felt like a loving, nurturing home of academia because of the small size, the closeness of the faculty and students, the quiet Berkshires where I grew up. I've always wanted to teach in a small, rural college with a family-like atmosphere with a great spirit, a dynamic interdisciplinary curriculum and intellectual opportunities which allowed individual growth for everyone: staff, faculty, administration and students." 

Dow estimates she knows about half of the English department faculty from her undergraduate experience.

"These professors encouraged me to grow and develop into who I am today, so working along with them as a colleague is still inspiring. It's fun getting to know them as fellow adults and humans, rather than just as my professors. The comfort level of settling in though is inexplicable. I still feel right at home and completely supported. I love teaching here."

To read some of Dow's poetry, go to