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Friday, October 23, 2020

Major Jackson to Leave UVM for Vanderbilt University

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Major Jackson at Leunig's Bistro - SALLY POLLAK/FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak/File ©️ Seven Days
  • Major Jackson at Leunig's Bistro
Major Jackson and Daniel Fogel arrived at the University of Vermont in the fall of 2002, each moving to Vermont from Louisiana.

Jackson, a poet, was a young faculty member joining the English department from Xavier University in New Orleans. Fogel, a Henry James scholar and university administrator, arrived from Louisiana State University to serve as UVM’s 25th president.  The two met that fall at an English department picnic, recalled Fogel, who’s now a professor in the department.

“I met Major, read some of his poems, and immediately began [working] from the president’s office and made sure that we retained him as long as we could,” Fogel said.

That effort was successful for nearly two decades: Jackson, 52, will leave UVM at the end of the semester for Vanderbilt University, where he’ll be the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English. During his tenure at UVM, Jackson emerged as a prominent American poet of his generation, publishing four volumes of poetry, including this year’s The Absurd Man, and editing the 2019 volume of The Best American Poetry.

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Former Vermont Poet Laureate Louise Glück Awarded Nobel Prize

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2020 at 5:11 PM

  • Courtesy of Katherine Wolkoff/Steven Barclay Agency
  • Louise Glück
The Swedish Academy has announced that its choice for the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature is Louise Glück. Though she now resides in Cambridge, Mass., she lived for many years in Plainfield, Vt. In 1971, Glück was among the original members of the legendary creative writing faculty at Goddard College in the nation’s first low-residency program. In 1980 she was a founding board member of the New England Culinary Institute (her then-husband John Dranow was a cofounder of the school).

Glück served as Vermont’s poet laureate — known then as “state poet” — from 1994 to 1998, and as U.S. poet laureate 2003 to 2004.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Bookstock Kicks Off Its Virtual Event Series With Poet Reuben Jackson

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 6:25 PM

  • Courtesy of Reuben Jackson
  • Reuben Jackson
Bookstock, the Woodstock-based "festival of words," usually happens every July. This year — the fest's 12th — the organizers had already booked 40 authors when the pandemic hit, according to programming director Pam Ahlen. They made the tough decision to cancel the live event and replace it with a series of free livestreaming author talks, dubbed Virtual Bookstock 2020, in partnership with Woodstock's Norman Williams Public Library.

Virtual Bookstock kicks off on Thursday, September 17, and continues monthly through the end of the year. The first guest is poet Reuben Jackson, in conversation with author Jenna Blum.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Historic Ruth Stone House Burglarized

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 3:31 PM

  • Courtesy Of Vida: Women In Literary Arts
  • Ruth Stone homestead
The historic home of late poet Ruth Stone in Goshen was burglarized during the week of July 15, according to the Ruth Stone Foundation. Representatives estimate the floorboards and power tools stolen were worth around $3,700, but note that the foundation is accepting donations to replace the missing materials.

The Ruth Stone Foundation is a nonprofit honoring the legacy of the former Vermont Poet Laureate and National Book Award winner. Stone owned the house from 1956 until her death in 2011, though it sat unoccupied for several years. The foundation has been working to repair the house since 2011, aiming to turn it into a space for writers retreats and workshops.

A majority of the carpentry thus far has been done by the family and volunteers, including Ruth's granddaughter Bianca Stone and her husband Ben Pease, both poets. They think the house was built around 1800. It's listed on the National Registry of Historic Places because of Ruth Stone's importance to the state.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bookstock Features Poetry and Dance Tribute to Poet Mary Oliver

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Dancers rehearse Sarabande - COURTESY OF PEG BRIGHTMAN
  • Courtesy of Peg Brightman
  • Dancers rehearse Sarabande
Poetry, said Mary Oliver in a rare 2015 interview with the radio program "On Being," “is very old. It’s very sacred. It wishes for a community. It’s a community ritual, certainly. And that’s why, when you write a poem, you write it for anybody and everybody.”

Oliver won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1992. She also had New England connections, teaching at Bennington College from 1996 to 2001 and living in Provincetown, Mass. for many years. 

Oliver’s work is ubiquitous across Instagram, and read at both weddings and funerals. A New York Times obituary called her “a phenomenon: a poet whose work sold strongly.”  When she died in January, the loss was felt not just by the poetry community, but by many fans outside it.

“Mary Oliver’s poetry is [about] more than other poets reading her,” said Vermont poet Laura Foley. “She didn’t put herself up on a pedestal. Her words are very clear, she uses images from nature. And she has a message, which is, ‘Slow down, look around you.’”

Foley wrote a poem called “It Matters” upon hearing of Oliver’s death that borrows and appreciates various lines of Oliver’s poetry, which are presented in italics. Foley said she knew these lines by heart when she sat down to write the poem.

“It matters that I clutch / my stack of her books—those fields of light—” she wrote, “now that her body has gone / into the cottage of darkness.”

Foley's poem and others will be featured in Homage to Mary Oliver in Poetry and Dance on Thursday, July 25, ArtisTree Community Arts Center & Gallery in South Pomfret at 7:30 p.m. The multidisciplinary performance kicks off Bookstock, an annual literary festival that takes place in Woodstock from Friday to Sunday, July 26 to 28. 

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Spectrum Storyteller Mark Redmond Heads to Broadway

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Mark Redmond with Spectrum staff and clients - FILE PHOTO BY JAMES BUCK
  • File photo by James Buck
  • Mark Redmond with Spectrum staff and clients
Mark Redmond is headed to Broadway — not for good, but for a one-night solo performance in October.

This week, the longtime executive director of Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Burlington was informed that his one-man show, “So Shines a Good Deed,” was chosen from among hundreds of applications for inclusion in the 2019 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City.

The annual event, now in its 10th year, claims to be the world's largest solo-performance festival, featuring storytelling, puppetry, dance, multimedia, improv,  magic, drama and stand-up comedy. The festival will be held in October in the newly renovated Theatre Row Building on 42nd Street, in the heart of Manhattan's theater district.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Young Writers Project's 'Soundcheck' Addresses Gun Violence

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Workshop attendees, left to right:  Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Workshop attendees, left to right: Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani
The Burlington-based Young Writers Project held a special Soundcheck event last Friday to address gun violence, youth activism and school safety.

Twice postponed due to inclement weather, the event at the BCA Center consisted of a writing workshop led by slam poets and educators Rajnii Eddins and Denise Casey, as well as an open mic session.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Poet "Barber Emeritus" Amir Yasin Dead at 79

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 10:00 PM

Reuben Jackson, receiving a haircut from Amir Yasin - SUSAN NORTON
  • Susan Norton
  • Reuben Jackson, receiving a haircut from Amir Yasin
Amir Yasin has died. The Detroit barber passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully, in his sleep on March 2. He is survived by his son, Rashied Yasin of Portland, Ore., and his beloved girlfriend, Khadijah Rollins of Detroit. He was 79.

In recent years, Amir had become something of a cult figure in certain Vermont circles. Using his friend, longtime Vermont Public Radio jazz DJ Reuben Jackson, as a conduit, Amir — and Khadijah, increasingly — would post scattered thoughts and musings  via Jackson's Facebook page. Amir's often lyrical dispatches on everything from politics to race to music to the daily comings and goings at his HangTime Barber Shop in Motown inspired a devoted audience among Jackson's online friends and followers.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

'Motherland' Author Maria Hummel Reads at Rice Memorial High School

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Maria Hummel - KAREN PIKE
  • Karen Pike
  • Maria Hummel
This weekend, author Maria Hummel will give a reading from her 2014 novel Motherland as part of the centennial celebrations at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.

The book follows the newly married Liesl as she raises her absent husband's three children in the height of World War II in Nazi Germany. Liesl and her husband, Frank, are mitlaufer, "Germans who 'went along' with Nazism," according to the author's website.

While the family is perhaps safe from Nazi persecution, they must survive dwindling food supplies, Allied air strikes and one child's mysterious illness, which puts him at risk of being sent to Hadamar, a psychiatric hospital infamous for mass sterilizations and murder.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Feminism Can Speak To: Katha Pollitt and Janell Hobson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 3:46 PM

Janell Hobson (left) and Katha Pollitt
  • Janell Hobson (left) and Katha Pollitt
On Wednesday, September 27, the Middlebury College Program in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies will host award-winning columnist, author and poet Katha Pollitt in conversation with author and professor Janell Hobson for the talk "What Can Feminism Speak To?"

Pollitt has written for the Nation since 1980, and many of her columns have been compiled into three volumes:
Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism, Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture  and Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time. Her most recent book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, was published by Picador in 2015 and is a vehement argument for dispelling cultural stigma around abortion.

Hobson teaches in the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of
Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture and Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, and a contributor to Ms. magazine.

Seven Days spoke with both Pollitt and Hobson by phone, asking some (big) questions prior to their Middlebury appearance.

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