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Words Up: NER Vermont Reading Series; Environmental Writers' Conference 

State of the Arts

click to enlarge Jay Parini
  • Jay Parini

It’s time again for the New England Review’s NER Vermont Reading Series at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury. This Thursday, listeners will hear from Midd professor Jay Parini, who just released a rather unusual biography: Jesus: The Human Face of God. The first in a series called Icons edited by James Atlas, Jesus aims to “re-mythologize” its subject rather than seeking the historical or literal truth of the gospels. The Boston Globe calls it a “deeply personal” work.

In addition to Parini, the reading will showcase West Windsor poet April Ossmann, Vermont Studio Center writing program director Ryan Walsh (also a poet), and Middlebury senior Ryan Kim. The last is also a photographer with a current exhibit at Burlington International Airport.

More news from Middlebury: The college has teamed up with Orion magazine on a new annual event called the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. Modeled after the famous Bread Loaf, which welcomes writers looking to refine their craft, the first weeklong workshop will take place next June 9 to 15 in Ripton under the joint directorship of Bread Loaf’s Michael Collier and H. Emerson Blake. The latter is editor-in-chief of Orion, a Great Barrington, Mass., bimonthly devoted to the environment and culture.

The conference isn’t just for nonfiction nature writers and advocates for environmental issues; it also welcomes fiction writers and poets “who are drawn to writing about the natural world,” according to a college press release. Among this year’s faculty are Rick Bass — author of Why I Came West — Jane Brox and Alison Hawthorne Deming. Interested in attending? The conference accepts applications through April 1; find more info at

Speaking of writers who know how to evoke the natural landscape … poet and novelist David Huddle, a longtime Bread Loaf faculty member, has spent a good chunk of his time down south since retiring from the University of Vermont. But he’s in Vermont this spring semester to instruct undergrads as a visiting writer at Johnson State College. The recipient of the 2013 PEN New England Award for Poetry for his collection Blacksnake at the Family Reunion, Huddle will give a public reading during his time at JSC — check our event calendar for details.

‘A Winter Evening With Four Vermont Writers’ Thursday, January 16, 7 p.m. at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury. Free.

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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