Marcus Burke ’06

". . . .Brimmer and May was the first place where I was challenged to be more than just an athlete."

Markus Burke, Brimmer and May Class of 2006
Susquehanna University, 2010
The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 2012

Marcus, recent author of Team Seven, received a B.A. in creative writing from Susquehanna University and a M.F.A. in fiction from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was the keynote speaker at the School’s 8th Annual Kenyon Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium, Uses of the Narrative, on January 22, 2013.

What are your stand-out memories of your time at Brimmer and May?
Winning the NEPSAC Class D Basketball Championship was a definite high point. I have such great memories of playing and hanging out with those guys, and we had great team chemistry. Also, going to South Africa during Winterim had a serious impact on my worldview. We visited a Saturday school where the students sat at tables according to subject and taught each other. I’d never been around people so thirsty for knowledge. It really made me reconsider things.

How did Brimmer and May prepare you for your career as a writer?
On a base level, Brimmer and May was the first place where I was challenged to be more than just an athlete. Soon after I arrived at Brimmer and May, I began going to the Writing Center and working with Mrs. Lanson—who really helped me learn how to approach writing and revising papers, two things that are invaluable to me today.

I came across Zora Neale Hurston’s work in Mrs. Lombardo’s class during my junior year. I’d never read anyone who wrote so unapologetically in a voice and dialect all their own. It was in that class that I first began toying with the idea of being a writer. I’ll admit that the idea seemed completely irrational in the moment, and I let it go dormant for a while. Though toward the end of my senior year I quietly began writing a really rough novelish thing that I later abandoned.

That year I rode to School with Mrs. Robinson, and some mornings as we rode I’d read her sections of what I’d been working on. She’d always listen and encourage me to keep going, and I suppose I did. I’ll always appreciate her for that.

Tell me about your educational experiences in college and graduate school.
I played four years of basketball at Susquehanna University. It was a pretty rocky experience; many highs, plenty of lows. Freshman year I was a business major, which was a horrible fit and my grades suffered. I began writing a screenplay in my notebook during all my business classes. At the end of the year, I had a couple notebooks full of writing and a few failing grades, and I switched my major to creative writing. Sophomore year I began writing The Big One Two in my mentor Tom Bailey’s Intro to Fiction class.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop was an amazing experience. I was allowed a lot of quiet time to read and write. I studied with some of my favorite authors, and I met a lot of good people.

How is your first novel going? Can you tell me anything about it?
All is well. I recently finished writing and editing my novel, Team Seven. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a kid and his family as he grows up in a fictionalized neighborhood in Milton, Massachusetts.

Team Seven, published by Random House, went on sale on April 8, 2014. 

  • Team Seven was featured in Oprah Magazine's "10 Titles to Pick Up Now" (June, 2014).
  • Marcus was interviewed on WBUR's Radio Boston by co-host and Brimmer and May parent Anthony Brooks. To listen to his interview, click here.
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