Meeting My Mentor Maureen McDole

As part of the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant, grantees are paired with mentors. I think it’s only fitting to use alliteration in the title of this article because my mentor, Maureen McDole, is a poet. 

Maureen McDole paints with words, taking us on a journey of exploring and evolving through life lessons. Leading up to our first meeting I read her two books, Longing for the Deep End (2011) and Exploring My Options (2006). I am looking forward to reading Feast (2021). I’ve also been listening to her podcasts, The Write Life while painting in the studio.

It’s been wonderful to connect with someone who has a full time creative career while raising a child, as Maureen McDole is also the founder of Keep St.Pete Lit, a non-profit literary arts organization committed to keeping literature a prominent part of St. Petersburg’s vibrant arts community. In addition she has a monthly column in The Artisan Magazine where she is a contributor and literature editor, and she hosts Keep St. Pete Lit’s weekly podcast Typewriter Talks.

Our first meeting was online. We asked each other a handful of questions. As my mentor she asked me, “what do I wish people would ask me about my work?” and “by May, what would I like to know?” We discussed ways to bring my writing into the exhibition, and she encouraged me to brainstorm ways to incorporate the work/spoken words of my children considering they are the fuel for my creative pursuits. Maureen gave me some homework by writing down my big dream and 13 fears holding me back and to remove the fears from my subconscious by literally washing them away. 

Our second meeting was in person at the Gallery of Creative Pinellas where we and other pairs of mentors and mentees started the process of envisioning the Emerging Artist exhibition.
I am excited to learn more about
ekphrastic poetry and as my mentor puts it, I am currently ‘exploring my options.’

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