Friday, March 27, 2009

Prof. Diessner's Work Featured at Bromfield Gallery

Dogs and human bodies and wild beasts, sometimes alone and sometimes together, inhabit Nancy Diessner's photographic intaglio prints in "Finding the Sky," a solo exhibition at the Bromfield Gallery April 1-25. An opening reception will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3.

Prof. Diessner is director of the Interdisciplinary Arts program at Chester College of New England.

Eric Pinder to Speak at Walden Pond April 11

Eric Pinder, a member Chester College of New England's Writing and Literature Department, will be speaking at Walden Pond on Saturday, April 11, as part of the Window on Walden author series. His presentation, "A Tale of Two Mountains," will look at the similarities and differences between Mt. Katahdin and Mt. Washington and Thoreau's experiences on both peaks.

All Window on Walden talks are free and begin at 1:30 pm. A book signing will follow.

Limited free parking is available adjacent to the shop at 915 Walden Street in Concord, MA. Additional parking is available in the State Reservation parking lot for $5.00. For more information on the Thoreau Society Shop at Walden Pond or the event, please call the shop at (978) 287-5477 or visit

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Interview with Askold Melnyczuk

by Jeff Metcho

SO Good: Your work has appeared in some publications that are famous for only accepting the best pieces sent to them. What was the journey like to get there? How did it feel when your work first appeared in a popular publication, or any publication for that matter?

Askold Melnyczuk: I began publishing work early, and indiscriminately. By the time I was 19 I’d published poems in places like The Village Voice and a bunch of magazines nobody has ever heard of. It was exciting—it was a continuation of the conversation. Writing the poem was part of it; putting it out into the world was a way of trying to discover kindred spirits. Maybe the biggest difference between publishing in a place like The Village Voice versus New Collage is that more people were likely to see it and so to acknowledge it. Publication remains exciting (as well as distracting) because it is a completion of the circuit. You write to communicate, after all. But while there is a hierarchy there among journals,I don’t think it’s something writers should pay too much attention to. Every young writer should have a couple of well-known journals or papers they read regularly where they wouldn’t mind appearing, and a longer list of new and untried places whose conversation they want to join. Who knows but that the obscure mags may well serve them better in the long run. Established journals are always dying; new ones are forever being reborn.

SG: Your novels seem to share themes of history or heritage. How much has your personal curiosity of your heritage influenced your work?

AM: All three of my novels deal in different ways with the fact that my parents were immigrants from Ukraine. They were refugees in fact, who were forced to leave their country. Unlike those immigrants who came to the United States to improve their economic status, they were here under protest and fully expected to return home before long. As a result they made sure my sister and I learned Ukrainian before we ever studied a word of English even though we were born and raised in New Jersey. I rebelled against this in my teens and twenties. Later I realized they’d given me a passport into a parallel universe which was enormously enriching and valuable. I’ve been to Ukraine a number of times, and hope to go again before too long. Carrying around this other universe about which most of my friends new nothing forced me to look for ways to communicate what otherwise would have been a stifling secret. I’ve made friends with a number of writers there and have translated a few of them; staying in touch keeps my world larger.

SG: As a teacher as well as a writer, you probably have a lot to share with young writers. Is there any advice or wisdom in particular that you could give us?

AM: The most important thing a young writer needs to figure out is how to balance the discipline of solitude which is where the writer’s work is born and nourished while also honoring the human need for solidarity and community. The Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who one the Nobel Prize a few years back, in his Nobel Prize address confessed that he spent ten hours a day, for thirty years, writing…learning to write. And that seems to me a good thing to recognize: ten hours a day for thirty years, you’re bound to learn something. The other thing to be aware of is that as a writer you’re always learning, you’re always experimenting, trying new things—and that’s what makes this life exhilarating and demanding. There’s really no resting on past accomplishments. Every day you test yourself against the blank page, and discover how strong your will to live is.

SG: And finally a favorite of our group: What book or piece, fiction or poetry, is your favorite? What author has had the most influence on you?

AM: I’m a reading addict. I have learned how to create various alternate states of mind through different combinations of books. There are about thirty books stacked by my chair in my study, and I will often read a poem from one, a page of fiction from another, a polemic from a third…all in the course of an hour. And I try to be open to new influences, even if by old writers. For example, lately I’ve gotten very interested in the Austrian refugee Hermann Broch, who died in New Haven. He was a businessman in the family textile firm until he was forty; then he quit to write full time. His first novel, Sleepwalkers, published in 1930, and lavishly praised by writers like Thomas Mann, looked at the behavior of his fellow Austrians over the last forty years. He felt strongly that political indifference—indifference to the political life of one’s time—was the same as ethical indifference. He saw clearly the storm of the Third Reich building…and every one of his novels was an experiment. His last one, Guiltless, which he called a novel, is in fact a collection of poems and stories written over decades which he rewrote to develop an idea.

But he is, as I said, a recent enthusiasm. In general I like to credit Garcia Marquez with providing me with the touchstone reading experience in my life. I was 17 when I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude—it was 4 a.m. in July, 1972, and I walked out into the Ohio night and looked up at the stars in the sky and thought to myself, Wow, this really is a miraculous world. The book restored something of the enchantment of childhood and ever since I have strongly believed that enchantment was one of the most powerful literary qualities—along with incitement.

SO Good would like to thank Mr. Melnyczuk greatly for his time and welcome him to Chester next week. We're looking forward to his reading.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Look For CCNE

by Lisa Pike

After extensive voting by students for how club/organization funds were going to be divided for the spring 2009 semester, the CCNE Design Collaborative ranked number one in the polls. Fears of whether or not the group is benefiting the entire college community and not just the graphic designers can be put to rest in the fact that the group is redesigning the campus image, helping to bring in new students and making present students proud of CCNE through its work.

The idea for the design collaborative had its beginnings in the Interactive Design classes taught by Luke Buffenmyer and Jay Bordage. “The students showed a real interest and motivation to improve the visual image of the school and its portrayal as an academic art institution,” said Luke Buffenmyer one of the new group’s advisors. These students which included Nicole Glynn and Emily Brochu, who are now acting president and vice president of the group, took the initiative and set up a meeting with Dean Laura Ives. The goal of the meeting was to see if the group could participate in the production of the college’s annual publications which are usually done by the student affairs office or admissions. Ives gave the group the go ahead and they were able to do a visual insert for the recent college view book which won an award this past January, as well as updating college postcards and mailers for the spring semester.

When the opportunity came to be recognized as a formal organization the collaborative jumped at the chance, hoping to get much needed funds but were determined to continue on without, if necessary. Especially, Vice President Emily Brochu who has used the opportunity to create her own independent study based in structuring the work of the group into a business and non-profit organization and experiencing the many avenues of professional practices in the process. To begin the process the group has used its club funds to buy new printers and furniture and to renovate Douglas 19, the room set aside by the college for the group’s new headquarters.

The ultimate idea that Brochu is helping to structure is the expansion of the collaborative through off campus, non-profit projects such as writing copy and creating original photography. By branching off to companies and publications off campus it will allow opportunities to learn about careers and professional work outside the usual college academics. Essentially, students will be learning how to set up and run a business as well as short-term vs. long-term projects. The other benefit for the students involved is the receiving of critiques from on and off campus colleagues in the field of visual/written arts and employing their help in building their portfolios. In addition, the group is looking into the possibility of an internship in conjunction with a local company some time next year for students.

The main mission for the collaborative is to improve the school’s image in order to better convey the ideals of an art school which highly values academics and artistic expression and to draw people in to attending the college. The graduating design seniors see this reconfiguration of the school’s image as their legacy by influencing prospective students to continue to enroll at the college. The collaborative has found many projects to work on this semester concerning seniors and incoming students including, gallery posters, senior project announcements, a new postcard, a mailing card for accepted students, and a new faculty website. Their biggest upcoming project is the Chesterfest in May, for which they will be providing posters and announcements in association with the Student Government Association and the Campus Board of Activities. Participation in the group is open to anyone in any major because all types of representative work are valued for use in college publications and other off campus opportunities. The group meets Wednesdays at 4 pm in Douglas 19. Come ready to create!

Senior Openings 2009

by Lisa Pike

The first senior projects of the class of 2009 will be unveiled on Monday, March 30 in Wadleigh Library. The Wadleigh Exhibition will include works by photographers, Krystle Belanger, Sarah Izatt, Jessica Eastman and interdisciplinary major Jesse Cloutier. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, with readings at 8 p.m. by writing majors Blake Lagasse and Stephanie Libby.

Krystle Belanger has crafted her final project titled “I’ll Remember You…”, as a mélange of manipulated black and white film in medium format acting as a visual journal with an accompanying audio of noises that surrounded her while taking the photographs. Her main goal is to transport the viewer into her experiences while studying abroad in Florence, Italy and to show what a whirlwind of travel and excitement she was wrapped up in for four months.

Sarah Izatt has fashioned larger than life digital prints to encapsulate the wide world of fashion photography with her own twist. Instead, of the usual stiff and cliché fashion photographs seen in every magazine she has decided to explore the different ways that fashion shoots can be done while still being exciting and vibrant for the viewer, the model, and the photographer.

Jessica Eastman has used digitally montaged photographs to create a non-linear personal narrative with the theme revolving around the universality of memories, with emphasis on the sad and chaotic and how they define and shape a person.

Jesse Cloutier decided upon a natural approach in the materials for his final project titled, “Silent and Very Slowly Growing”. He used sheets unfurled from abandoned wasp nests to print a series of images as well as embedding scenes in clear resin casts, which expand upon the personalities and relationships that grow out of natural found objects.

Blake Lagasse will read a short story from an untitled manuscript. "Linger" is the story of a young caretaker looking after a elderly widower and how his life is affected. The story explores the issues of work and treatment of the elderly in this modern age.

Stephanie Libby will read from a yet untitled novel she has written in stories with poems as segways between the pieces. The stories are told through the main character’s perspective of her past relationships with her following a path of self-discovery. The stories show how the men she has been with see her and the poems are in her voice, showing her point of view. In each story she tries on different characteristics of the different people she's met along the way, hoping that they will give her some idea of who she is as a person.

Don’t miss out! Visually and aurally it will be a feast for the soul. Make sure to get your serving and attend the exhibitions which run Monday through Sunday with the opening reception at 7 p.m. and the reading at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Visiting Writers Series Welcomes Askold Melnyczuk

Chester College of New England's Visiting Writers Series will welcome Askold Melnyczuk to campus for a reading at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 2 in Powers 29. Admission is free for students with ID and a $5 donation for all others.

Melnyczuk is a poet and a novelist, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Gettysburg Review, The Los Anegles Times, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, and The Nation. His second novel, Ambassador of the Dead, was one of The Los Angeles Times Best Books of 2002, and his first novel, What is Told, was a New York Times Notable Book. His third novel, The House of Widows, was published in 2007.

In 1997, Melnyczuk received a Lila Wallace-Readers' Digest Award in Fiction. Winner of the McGinnis Award in Fiction, he has also been awarded grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. He is founding editor of AGNI and served as editor until 2002. He continues to contribute a series of essays called "Shadowboxing." He is professor of creative writing at The University of Massachusetts-Boston and a member of the core fiction faculty of the graduate Bennington Writing Seminars.

A research associate of the Ukrainian Institute at Harvard, Melnyczuk has served on the boards of the New England Poetry Club and PEN–New England and has been a fellow of the Boston Foundation. In 2001 he received PEN American Center's biennial Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing as well as PEN-New England's "Friend to Writers" Award.

Faculty Member's Novella Released

Circulation, a novella by writing and literature faculty member Tim Horvath, was released March 5, from Sunnyoutside Press. The book has received positive reviews from the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene blog and He will be doing readings to celebrate the release on March 25 at Riverrun Books in Portsmouth, April 3 at the Dire Reading Series in Cambridge, and April 10 at Water Street Books in Exeter.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An interview with Alexandria Peary

by Beth Ann Miller

Poet Alexandria Peary, who will be reading at Chester College on Wednesday March 4th, gave us some of her time this week to answer a few questions. For students aspiring to "make it" in the art world, her answers are both helpful and inspiring.

SO Good: Do you have a specific creative process?
Alexandria Peary: Buddhism. The mindfulness practice of watching the breath (in order to write, obtain new ideas, make contact with the self.) This process is something I’m currently teaching at Daniel Webster College in a really atypical course called “Overcoming Writing Blocks.” This course teaches students meditation and other mindfulness practices to develop greater fluency with their writing.

SG: What helps you when you are "stuck" creatively?
Equanimity—or the Buddhist term for accepting whatever arises. What is, is. I am fortunate in that I haven’t really been stuck creatively for awhile. However, I went to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop when I was 22, the result of which was a 5-year, painful block. That’s probably why I designed and am teaching that writer’s block course and why I am moved by students who are stuck with their writing. I also tend to keep multiple writing projects going, so there is nearly always something that draws me into its circle. I also believe it’s important to rest—both physically and mentally—as a writer. Good, creative times include seemingly fallow stretches in which I am gathering material from life and art (often visual art).

SG: Do you remember your first publication? What was the piece and where was it published? What did you do when you found out it was accepted?
AP: I was sixteen years old when I had my first poetry publication. The University of Maine at Orono (I grew up in central Maine) sponsored a contest for its poetry center and invited submissions of poetry by adults, teens, and children. I received first place for the teen category for a long (long in line and length) about my brother… in four scenes during our life—very solemn-like and a bit of an echo of T.S. Eliot, who I must have been reading at the time. I recall writing the poem in a single sitting on my canopy bed while having the flu. At the time, the writing of the poem was a sort of aberration for me because I was “intending” to become a fiction writer and was mostly writing short stories at the time. I even made arrogant statements about poets at a creative writing class I was taking where they pulled aside “gifted” students from several high schools. Blush. When I heard of the publication, a reporter from the small-town newspaper came to the high school and interviewed me. I remember developing a rapid crush on him. And there was my picture in the newspaper, all shy and in a plaid shirt, my elbow resting on a stack of books taken from the English teacher’s desk.

All my writing life, I seem to have encountered a series of diversions in genre that have taken me away from my intentions, leading me to poetry, poetry, poetry. I say this, but I do write in multiple genres (a healthy thing for any writer, in my opinion). Nowadays, I write poetry, creative nonfiction, essays for glossy magazines, and scholarly writing on composition and rhetoric. Right now, I have poems forthcoming in two journals, an essay at Brain, Child which is one of the few non-saccharine sweet parenting magazines, a creative nonfiction piece at Meeting House, and two scholarly pieces about to be printed. Note the absence of fiction.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
AP: Accept painful moments but stay true to yourself and aware of your needs and passions. Never discount an impulse.

SG: What are your favorite books? How have they influenced you as a writer and as a person?
AP: I absolutely adore anything by Caroline Knox, a contemporary poet with six books. Get her books! She is a master of the language surface, of varied points-of-view, of the spirit of fun in poetry. I practically eat her words before starting my own writing. Caroline Knox’s poetry is like a thesaurus page come to life. I also love with a big L Emily Dickinson—a true architect of language.

And I very much respect W. S Merwin’s 1996 collection, The Vixen, for its attention to the present moment which he pulls off through detail, enjambment, and his absences (especially punctuation). That collection is very Buddhist-oriented. It is the wall that stands behind most haiku.

These are the books—along with a thick book on the painter Paul Klee and a collected poems of Wallace Stevens—that are nearly always on the upper-right hand corner of my writing desk.

SO Good thanks Alexandria for her time and we're looking forward to her reading on Wednesday.

Faculty Member to Read at Literary Festival

Eric Pinder, a member of the Writing and Literature faculty, will be reading and also working at an educational booth at the New Works Literary Festival in Arlington, MA on Saturday, March 21. The event is being run by the Kinship Writers Association.

Eight Students Selected for NHAA College Invitational

Eight Chester College of New England students have been selected to participate in the New Hampshire Art Association's College Invitational 2009. Their work will be part of an exhibition in the main gallery of the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery in Portsmouth from Wednesday, March 4 through Friday, March 27. An opening reception will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, March 6.

Participating Chester College students are: Jessica Alford, Krystle Belanger, Emily Brochu, Jesse Cloutier, Emma Haskins, Desirae Hudson, Emily McCoomb, and Korey Nolan.

For more information, visit the NHAA website.

Creative Writing Senior Earns More Recognition

Beth Ann Miller, a senior creative writer major at Chester College of New England, is one of eight finalists in the "fiction" category at the 49th Annual Lex Allen Literary Festival, hosted by Hollins University. Miller's short story "Splinter," which also received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train's new writers contest earlier this year, is competing with work written by students from Barnard College, Cornell University, Emerson College, Indiana University South Bend, Hollins University, and two entries from Susquehanna University. The winner will be announced at the day-long festival on Saturday, March 7.

Student Graphic/Photo/Printmaking Show Opens in Wadleigh Gallery

Wadleigh Gallery will host a student Graphic/Photo/Printmaking exhibition from Monday, March 2 through Friday, March 13. It will open with a reception on Wednesday, March 4 at p.m. and features work by the following students:

Graphic Design: Samantha Geer, Ashley Hin, Kelly Knowles, Cassandra Korbey, Patrick Tobin, Brittany Tumelaire and Melinda Vieira

Photography & Printmaking: Krystle Belanger, Emily Brochu, Jenn Clement, Seana Collins, Kendra Coyle, Maggie Hatfield, Ken Huntley, Zach Huntress, Sarah Izatt, Gayle Lee, Shannon Malloy, Courtney Reynolds, Zach Shields, and Jeff Traynor

Photo Etching: Krystle Belanger, Jesse Cloutier, Sarah Izatt, Tim Lee, Sarah Mac Donald, Korey Nolan, and Alexa Patrick