Pat’s Latest Book

from Oxford University Press

how the light

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Pat Schneider

Founder of Amherst Writers and Artists


Pat Schneider of Amherst Massachusetts passed away on August 10, 2020. She was the author of ten books of poetry, plays, and non-fiction. Born in the Ozark mountains of Missouri on June 1, 1934, Pat became intimate with fossils, creek beds, grasshoppers and box turtles. After a search for work took her single mother to St. Louis, from age ten Pat lived in tenements and in an orphanage until she was given a scholarship to college. Those early experiences deeply influenced her writing and fueled her passion for those who have been denied voice through poverty and other misfortunes. Pat and her husband Peter Schneider moved to Amherst in 1966 where Peter served as pastor of Wesley United Methodist church until 1980 and where Pat and Peter were committed to building a community-based social justice ministry.

In 1981, Pat founded Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA). Today an international network of workshop leaders use the writing method described in Pat’s book, Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press). How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (OUP) was published in 2013. Her last book is the poetry collection The Weight of Love, published by Negative Capability Press in 2019.

Pat’s libretto, “The Lament of Michal,” was performed in Carnegie Hall. Her poetry has been read nationally on NPR sixteen times. Her plays have been performed in over three hundred productions. A film about her work with women in low-income housing titled Tell Me Something I Can’t Forget was made by Florentine Films in 1992.

Pat is buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Amherst MA. She is survived by Peter Schneider, their four children and two grandchildren.  The family is grateful to the Elaine Center in Hadley Massachusetts for care in her final year. If you wish, you may honor her by making a donation in her memory to AWA, the organization she founded, nurtured, and sustained with love and boundless energy, either online at https://amherstwriters.org/honoring-pat/ or by check to Amherst Writers and Artists, PO Box 1076, Amherst MA 01004. You may also post on her memorial blog at https://amherstwriters.org/awa-news/honoring-pat-schneider/