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amaranth News and Stories from the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature at Hiram College

POETS’ CORNER with Kate Northrop & Elizabeth Coleman

AUTHOR PAUL GREENBERG on the Right Way to Fish

murder comes to hiram Author Les Roberts on His New Mystery Win, Place, or Die

Fall 2013

am a ranth noun

1. a Vachel Lindsay poem published in The Congo and Other Poems in 1914 2. an imaginary flower that never fades 3. a highly nutritious golden seed 4. any of various annuals of the genus Amaranthus having dense green or reddish clusters of tiny flowers

Volume 2, Issue 2, Fall 2013

amaranth is a bi-annual publication of The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature


Editor-in-Chief Graphic Design

Kirsten Parkinson Sarah Bianchi

contributing writers William Applebee Alys Dutton Sarah Weirich

contributing photographers Sarah Bianchi: Cover Photo Cynthia Port: 2

mailing address Hiram College P.O. Box 67 Hiram, OH 44234

The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature would like to thank the Hiram College Office of Institutional Advancement and the Office of Special Events for their ongoing support. Š The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature, Hiram College



for W r i t i n g & Literature

On the cover: the Brainerd Stranahan bench in the gardens behind Bonney Castle

amaranth News and Stories from the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature

fall 2013 3










Megan Johnson mixes writing with sociology and social work

Local author Les Roberts’s newest novel, Win, Place, or Die, features a fictional Hiram professor Visiting authors Kate Northrop and Elizabeth Coleman reflect on their poetic origins Paul Greenberg reveals the art and science of fishing

See what’s coming to the Lindsay-Crane Center in the spring semester

From Director Kirsten Parkinson

Autumn has always been my favorite season. The air gets brisker, the leaves change into glorious hues, and a new academic year gets underway. Students and faculty members alike get to make a fresh start with new courses and new programs. At the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature, we love welcoming first-year and transfer students to campus and reconnecting with continuing students over amazing books and the written word. This fall, we want to extend two extra-special welcomes: to our Eclectic Scholars and to a new faculty member. The 2013-14 year marks the inaugural year of the Hiram Eclectic Scholars Honors Program. The honors program is designed not for students with the highest GPA but students who are intellectually curious and motivated to learn all they can about the world around them. During the first year, Eclectic Scholars are closely affiliated with one of Hiram’s Centers of Distinction. We are thrilled to welcome seven first-year students who will be connected with the Lindsay-Crane Center this year. We will be working on creative ways to get them connected with literature and writing as well as the campus as a whole all year long. Paige Conley also joins us this year as Assistant Professor of English and Director of Developmental Writing. Professor Conley comes to us from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she received her Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric. She will be teaching several sections of Basic Exposition as well as First-Year Colloquia and Seminars. This fall she is offering a Writing Seminar for transfer students on medicine and rhetoric, but she also has interests in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century world literatures, the rhetorics of public activism and social protest, and visuality and rhetoric. She describes her work as “interdisciplinary, drawing from literature, history, and contemporary visual culture.” She and her husband have three children, and she loves to travel, read, hike, sail, and garden. She says, “I think Hiram is the perfect fit for me.” We have to agree and are glad to welcome her to the Hiram community.

2 amaranth fall 2013

a student profile

writing minor


By Alys Dutton ’15

Megan Johnson, a writing minor, epitomizes the interdisciplinary style found at Hiram College. She’s not just taking a few writing classes for something extra on her diploma; she’s placing in writing contests, working in the classroom as a writing assistant, and interning for Lake Erie Ink—all while pursuing a major in sociology. Of course, Johnson doesn’t see sociology and writing as exclusive disciplines at all. “A big saying in social work is that if it is not documented then it does not exist,” she says about her future career. “Social workers need to have strong verbal and written communication skills.” To Johnson, writing is also therapeutic, a useful tool for connecting to and comforting youth in the welfare system. This fall, she will attend the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve to receive her Masters in Social Work. She particularly wants to work with youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Johnson also brings her experience and compassion for people to Hiram’s writing program, citing her happiest experiences as ones that involve her students. Johnson became involved in the writing minor when she took Writing 31300: Teaching and Supervising Writing, which prepares students to work in the Writing Center or in First-Year Seminar classes as tutors, an effort that seems perfectly suited to Johnson. Her first experience as a writing assistant was for the seminar Dangerous Youth, taught by adjunct faculty member Jen Dutton. To hear her tell it, she was a little nervous. Johnson says, “There was one dad who was formally in the Marines, and there was also a mom in the class. I found this age difference to be intimidating, and I was worried that the students would not trust a sophomore in college to give them advice on their writing.” But Johnson doesn’t easily back down from challenges. With an irresistible mix of writing skill and genuine positivity, she finds ways to connect with everyone she tutors. And by the end of the class? “Strong relationships were formed, and it was a huge relief,” she states. “In general, I think the greatest feeling for me was seeing a student’s work improve because of the time I spent working with them.” Her focus in the minor has been almost exclusively nonfiction, preferring to write about people and places that she knows. She’s enthused by real human connections. In the spring, Johnson tied for third place in the Echo Student Literary Competition with “The Bond of Brotherhood.” “I was excited when I found out that

I placed,” Johnson said, “because the piece I wrote is one of my favorites.” She wrote the essay as part of an immersion project in her favorite writing class, Craft and Technique: Creative Nonfiction with Associate Professor of English Mary Quade. “I decided to immerse myself in my boyfriend’s fraternity, which was quite the experience,” Johnson states. “It was overwhelming being the only girl surrounded by forty men!” Johnson also completed an internship with Lake Erie Ink, a non-profit organization in Cleveland Heights that is run by Hiram graduate Amy Rosenbluth ’86 and Cynthia Larsen. Lake Erie Ink leads writing workshops for kids ages 8 to 18, and Johnson assisted with the digital media class. As usual, she has a lot to say about the connections she made to her students. By the end of the class, her students “even got me to rap, which was way out of my comfort zone, but it was definitely worth it!”

save the date Hiram College’s 7th Annual

Emerging Writers Workshop in

Creative Nonfiction

june 19-21 2014 3

Featured Event on Campus A Reading by Les Roberts | Sept. 10, 2013 Pritchard Room, Hiram College Library

murder comes to hiram Les Roberts Incorporates Hiram College into His New Mystery Novel By William Applebee ’14

4 amaranth fall 2013

Can you imagine a Hiram College employee being connected to a murder? Les Roberts has done just that in his newest novel. Win, Place, or Die is the latest in Roberts’s Clevelandbased mystery series featuring Slovenian detective Milan Jacovich. The novel focuses on the Cleveland harness-racing scene and features a Hiram College professor that Roberts describes as being neither good nor bad but an important client of Jacovich. Despite how realistic the character may appear, he is fictitious. He was born of what Roberts describes as “the writer’s eye.” He says that everywhere he goes he observes people and becomes interested in their interactions. These observations inspire his writing and influence how he develops his characters. Roberts started his writing career at age six when he began writing page-long works on an old typewriter. He believes that this experience, mixed with his love for reading and for movies, taught him how to tell a story. This passion inspired Roberts to pursue a career in the entertainment field. He began his career as an actor and later wrote for The Jackie Gleason Show. In time Roberts moved to Hollywood where he produced The Hollywood Squares and wrote for and produced The Lucy Show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Andy Griffith Show. Roberts’s success led a producer to ask him to write a synopsis for a private-eye movie. Unfortunately, the producer refused to pay for the script, so Roberts refused to part with his work. However, he felt that the synopsis was destined for more than the silver screen, and with time he transformed it into the beginning of his Milan Jacovich series. Nearly twenty years ago, Roberts settled down in his detective’s hometown of Cleveland. Roberts had always enjoyed visiting the city and decided to see what Cleveland life was all about. He was originally worried about what the city would hold but found it “stunning” how Cleveland and the city’s Slovenian communities welcomed him. Roberts believes that Cleveland life has changed him for the better and has inspired his writing.

Planning never to leave, he now refers to the Cleveland area as his “spiritual home.” An experience in Nighttown restaurant and jazz club in Cleveland Heights established Roberts’s relationship with Hiram College. He was recognized by a Hiram faculty member who had seen him speak on campus and was encouraged to become a part of campus life. Roberts fell in love with Hiram’s “charming learning atmosphere,” which inspired him to bring Hiram into one of his novels. Roberts believes that Hiram offers its students “the right kind of learning” and is a proud and active part of the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature’s Resource Council. He loves being able to interact with students and their writing. When asked to offer advice to aspiring writers, he says, “Shut up and write.” He encourages students not to stall and worry about what others may think but to write what they feel strongly about and never to be ashamed of it. To gain a better understanding of Hiram life for Win, Place, or Die, Roberts toured the campus with Jenifer Warren, Associate Director of Major Gifts. She describes Roberts as being “interested in the feel and essence of the place.” To inspire his writing, he wanted to experience the places on campus where people interacted. Warren says that Roberts “proudly dons his Hiram sweatshirt when he comes to campus…he is one of us.” `

Above: Cleveland author Les Roberts. Above Left: The cover of his book Win, Place, or Die. 5

a poets’


An inside look at visiting poets Kate Northrop & Elizabeth Coleman By Sarah Weirich ’14

Encountering the World “Richly and Strangely”: Poet Kate Northrop As a child, poet Kate Northrop read “The Gypsy” by British poet Edward Thomas. This poem, she says, left her feeling “suddenly altered and therefore, startled.” From that point, she found herself “wanting to be in the company of poems and wanting somehow to respond.” Northrop has certainly been recognized for her ability “to respond,” as she has been awarded the Paumanok Poetry Award and the American Academy of Poets Prize as well as fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Her first collection of poems, Back Through Interruption, earned Kent State University’s Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Award. Her next collection, Things are Disappearing Here (2007), was named a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award. Her most recent published collection is Clean (2011). She is currently a contributing editor for The North American Poetry Review and a professor in the Department of English at the University of Wyoming. She earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Northrop’s poetry puts into words what she feels distant from and the struggle “to get closer” to these things. It is no surprise, then, that Northrop’s inspiration to write such poetry originates from the apartness and the “lack of understanding” she experiences within life. Northrop embraces this “lack of understanding,” saying, “The day’s too challenging already, but in reading poetry, we can encounter a world richly and strangely.”

“The Majesty and Mystery of the Present”: Poet Elizabeth Coleman Elizabeth Coleman credits her original interest in poetry to a tenth-grade English teacher who taught her the art of reading and loving poetry. After high school, she pursued a degree in French Literature from Swarthmore College and upon graduation, taught French and English at the junior high school level. She then went on to earn a degree in law from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she earned a M.F.A. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Coleman is also the founder and president of Stress Management Solutions, Ltd. and the Beatrice R. and Joseph A. Coleman Foundation. Her first chapbook, The Saint of Lost Things, was published in 2009, and her second collection, Let My Ears Be Open, appeared earlier this year. Coleman’s work has been featured in numerous journals, including Connecticut Review, The Raintown Review, Blueline, and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Her unpublished collection, Proof, was a finalist for the University of Wisconsin’s 2013 Brittingham and Pollak Prizes in poetry. In addition to her original work, Coleman translated poet Lee Slonimsky’s Pythagoras in Love into French. Although Coleman always had an interest in writing, she reconnected with poetry after a serious illness in 2001. During her recovery, she “did some soul-searching and determined that, among other things [she] wanted to spend more time writing.” She describes her original poetry as striving to express what the philosopher Stephen Batchelor once said: “How extraordinary it is to be here at all.” She believes that poetry “helps us wake up to the miracle of being alive” by “fully experiencing the majesty and mystery of the present.” As for what inspires her to write such poetry, “it is in part Emily Dickinson’s adage to tell the truth, but ‘tell it slant.’” 6 amaranth fall 2013

Featured Events on Campus A Reading by Kate Northrop October 17, 2013 12pm A Reading by Elizabeth Coleman October 22, 2013 12pm Both events will be held in the Pritchard Room of the Hiram College Library

fishing with author


By Alys Dutton ’15

I’ve only fished once in my life—during the annual sixth-grade camping trip. Amidst canoeing, ecology, and general running and jumping, we learned how to cast a line and reel in fish. I enjoyed the motion of casting most and touching worms the least. The fishing itself was of little consequence to me, so it was very surprising after ten minutes to find a bass at the end of my line. The hook had pierced through the side of its cheek, and blood was trickling back into its gaping, surprised mouth. My counselor threw it back, and I decided never to fish again. I thought about that bass on my way to lunch with Paul Greenberg, journalist and author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. What on earth would I say to a self-described “avid” fisherman? I shouldn’t have worried; Greenberg recognizes right up front that he’s in a niche. “The problem with the fish world,” he says, “is even when you excel in it… you’re still in fish.” I don’t think he gives himself enough credit, though; by the end of lunch I’m won over by his easy, self-deprecating humor and the passion he has for writing, fish, and adventure anywhere he goes. Greenberg finds common ground amidst a ragtag group of liberal-arts students, and that accessibility makes his book successful even beyond the fish world. When Greenberg speaks on the serenity

of long fishing trips and mist floating over a still lake, we remember the quiet moments in our day, alone but keeping company with the thing we love to do the most. When he is wrestling fish on the Hudson River, we are similarly swept with adrenaline, heaving our entire physical selves at a problem. That’s how Greenberg gets us; he shares naked passion for fish and we are reminded of the things that we care about, that exist right under the skin. Greenberg’s visit in early February kicked off Hiram College’s Science Reads community reading program. Over the course of the month, a series of Four Fish-related events were held, including speakers, fish dinners, and book discussions. Co-sponsored by the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature and the Center for Deciphering Life’s Languages, the goal of the Science Reads program is to combine science and literature in the vein of Four Fish—that is to say, in the most entertaining way possible. Much to my surprise, it turns out fish are incredibly entertaining. When I told my best friend Tricia that I would be writing about Four Fish, she told me, “That’s the book that made me go > Continued on the back cover

Support community reading through the Lindsay-Crane Center The Maltese Falcon. The Things They Carried. Four Fish. Each book has been the focus of a community reading program sponsored by the LindsayCrane Center for Writing and Literature. These county-wide programs encourage reading and lifelong learning by offering multiple events about a single book and its themes. They also build community by connecting Hiram College to local schools, libraries, and other institutions. Past programs have involved Hiram students leading discussions at high schools and attending speakers at Portage County libraries and high-school students coming to the Hiram College campus to learn about literature and science. The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature aims to grow these community programs, as a key part of the Center’s mission is outreach projects that promote the value of reading and writing for everyone. As part of this initiative, the Center received a $75,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This highly competitive grant will provide permanent funding for community reading programs as well as a scholar-in-residence. In the first year, the Center has raised $74,340 of the $225,000 in total matching funds required by July 2017. Our next goal is to raise $15,660 by July 31, 2014. Please consider a donation to the NEH Challenge Grant fund to support the Lindsay-Crane Center’s rewarding community reading programs. As one student stated about our program on Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, it “was one of my most challenging but enlightening experiences at Hiram.” To support the community reading program through the NEH Challenge Grant, please visit and designate “LC Center NEH Challenge Grant” in the comment box. 7

Spring Events at a Glance Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Kennedy Center Ballroom, 7 p.m.

A Convocation with Roger Rosenblatt Nonfiction Author, Novelist, & Journalist

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pritchard Room, College Library, 7 p.m. An Evening of Hiram Writers Selected Readings by Contest Winners

June 19-21, 2014

Hiram College Campus Emerging Writers Workshop in Creative Nonfiction

July 24, 2014

Kennedy Center, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Western Reserve Book Fair

> Fishing with Author Paul Greenberg Continued from page 7

vegetarian.” Tricia had been a happy pescetarian for years until she read Four Fish in Writing 31300: Teaching and Supervising Writing. By Greenberg’s own admission, that’s not the point of the book—and he was eating a bit of shrimp as he said so. But brushing the surface of Four Fish, it’s easy to make a case for vegetarianism because the situation looks bleak for aquaculture. In writing about sea bass, cod, salmon, and tuna, Greenberg considers the factors depleting the world’s population of wild fish: overfishing, hypoxia (oxygen shortage), bad conversion ratios. All speak to the ethical dilemma of eating seafood. The compelling piece of the Four Fish narrative and a point Greenberg made in both his evening convocation and in numerous class visits, however, is that he doesn’t see aquaculture as unsalvageable. He’s not asking anyone to give up eating fish; he’s asking them to change the way they’re getting it. Greenberg himself is an avid fisherman, and by his account, a humane fisherman. Almost all the fish he eats he gets himself, on long fishing trips and from abundant species. It reassures me to see him have the best of both worlds. He doesn’t just say, “This is bad.” He says, “We can fix it.” And we can, by holding ourselves as consumers more accountable for the food we eat. We can fix it by eating sustainable fish like spot prawn instead of overfishing salmon and tuna or by forgoing the filet o’ fish sandwich for something fresh caught in the market. We could even just go out and fish ourselves, instead of eating the ground-up, Frankenstein monster of a fish found in the frozen dinner section. Fish like the Atlantic salmon have suffered for human involvement; the species is basically commercially extinct because of the amount of damming in New England. At the same time, it takes three or more pounds of food to grow one pound of farmed salmon. In an accessible and engaging way, Greenberg shows us that there are no simple answers.

About the Lindsay-Crane The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature is named for two poets who had close ties to Northeast Ohio. Nicholas Vachel Lindsay attended Hiram College from 1897 to 1900, and Harold Hart Crane was born in nearby Garrettsville. The Lindsay-Crane Center offers special opportunities for Hiram College writers and readers in every discipline. The Center implements the College’s Writing Across the Curriculum program (one of the oldest in the nation), brings professional writers to campus for intimate interactions with students and the public, mounts on-campus and regional writing contests, and vigorously supports the importance of a liberal-arts education in the 21st century. In addition, it offers students, community members, and other friends of the College rich experiences outside the classroom that contribute to intellectual and artistic pleasure and growth and maintains a deep commitment to interdisciplinary ventures with other departments and Centers.

To contact or support the Center: Kirsten Parkinson, Director of the Center, Jenifer Warren, Assistant Director of Major Gifts,

Lindsay-Crane 330.569.5323 330.569.5280


for W r i t i n g & Literature

amaranth | fall 2013