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in residence 26

16 Recognizing our community of artists

Tom Greene talks to Richard Russo

MFA In Music Composition celebrates a milestone


Life after the MFA


MFA IN VISUAL ART faculty, students, and staff pour out of North Gallery onto the steps of College Hall after the residency exhibition.

visual art


vermont college of fine arts IN RESIDENCE 2013 3 President’s Letter 4 Reports from the Programs


Residency lecture/

President Greene interviews Richard Russo


Life after MFA/

The civilizing effect: thoughts on a post-MFA life



Making the dark conscious


Kelley Bordeleau Lamb Director of Alumni Affairs & Development managing editor

Jay Ericson Middle Gray Group design

Alex Budnitz Sametz Blackstone Associates Leslie Noyes Leslie Noyes Creative Consulting, Inc. contributing writers

26 Class news 6 3 Impromptu 37 Juxtaposition

Dale Kushner Nikki Juen contributing photographers

Charles Gauthier Anthony Pagani

In Residence

Volume 1, Number 1 Š 2 0 13

VER MONT COL L EG E OF FI NE ARTS 36 College Street Montpelier, VT 05602 E-mail:

dear friends, I’m hard-pressed to consider a time when the values that we impart at VCFA– intellectual rigor, creative exploration, honest and informed discussion, and exploration of different points of view—have been more important to the success of our students, our communities, and our world. It is at the heart of our mission and shapes the study and practice of art-making as an immersive, constantly evolving process. Aspiring, emerging, or established, our filmmakers, writers, composers, and visual artists grow individually through intensive engagement with their craft and lively, often profound, exchanges of ideas and work.

This fertile spot in central Vermont has become a point of convergence for those who want to collaborate and create, to make something new, to do what they never—or always—imagined. Today Vermont College of Fine Arts is thriving, and as I write this, we have just concluded one of the most remarkable summers of residencies that I can remember. You’ll read about much of what took place in these pages, including my interview with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo, and the incredible music that emanated from College Hall as the degrees were conferred on the first graduating class of the MFA in Music Composition program. Among the rich array of experiences this summer, for me the most vivid and treasured was to watch our powerful, founding principles in action— the teacher as practitioner; the student as shaper as well as recipient of education; and our ever-increasing commitment to assuring a rich and complex dynamic between VCFA and the world. This dynamic manifests itself every day, whether here on campus or there in one’s own community. In that sense, one is never disconnected from the VCFA experience. And in every sense, Vermont College of Fine Arts is making the world a more humane place, one artist at a time.

With all good wishes— Thomas Christopher Greene President




faculty :: notes :: residency

“A new generation of filmmakers is changing the face of independent film production, creating new stories across the globe,” said Stephen Pite, the director of the new MFA in Film program. “New forms of filmmaking are evolving, creating innovative approaches in both style and substance. Traditional local urban institutions can no longer serve as the sole entrée to this global dynamic. A community of filmmakers is emerging that requires a more affordable and a more convenient education opportunity that fits into busy creative lives.” VCFA’S MFA in Film is designed to align with students’ professional and personal lives so that the opportunity for advanced study and reflection on creative choices can result in the confidence and professionalism required of an emerging filmmaker by instilling an approach to filmmaking as a lifelong commitment to refining artistic vision in the framing of the human drama in our graduates.

MFA in FILM’s inaugural residency: October 27- November 3 Round table discussions on creative process, story structure, and the changing landscape of production and distribution. Comprehensive and in-depth lectures on animation, along with writing workshops and exercises led by the faculty, and an in-depth overview of documentary trends, offered by Yael Malamede, 2013 Academy Award winner for Inocente. Each evening finished with a feature–length screening followed by a question and answer period by one of the film faculty at the downtown Montpelier art house, The Savoy.  Throughout the program independent filmmakers work in narrative, documentary, animation, transmedia, or screenwriting. There is no requirement to declare a specialization, and students are encouraged to try new approaches to their storytelling, embrace novel methods and approaches, while refining their creative voice and deepening their understanding of film language and the power of story.

TAMMY MARIE DUDMAN is recognized internationally for developing Time Based Pixel Paintings and Time Based Pixel Drawings. Her international career has included ten world premieres at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. In 2011, T. Marie’s work was cited as one of the most memorable films of the year by Moving Image Source, a publication by The Museum of Moving Image in New York. In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, T. Marie’s works were cited in Senses of Cinema’s Best Films of the Year world poll.


NINA DAVENPORT’S most recent documentary, First Comes Love, was included in HBO’s Docs Summer Series 2013. Her first film, Hello Photo (1994), premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and won Best Documentary at Melbourne. Her second film, Always a Bridesmaid (2000), aired on HBO/Cinemax and on Channel Four’s True Stories. Davenport’s third film, Parallel Lines, a lyrical road movie about her journey from California back home to New York in the aftermath of 9/11, premiered at IDFA and aired on the BBC series Storyville. Operation Filmmaker (2007) explored the relationship between filmmaker and subject, as it followed an Iraqi film student who traveled from war-torn Iraq to a Hollywood movie set. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and aired on the PBS series Independent Lens.


BRANDON COLE and actor John Turturro have collaborated on many projects, most notably their critically-acclaimed film Mac, for which Turturro won the Camera d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1995, they adapted John Fante’s My Dog Stupid for Peter Falk, and collaborated on the award-winning Illuminata, based on Cole’s play Imperfect Love. Cole is a recipient of a playwriting fellowship from the New York State Foundation for the Arts. Cole collaborated with Alexandre Rockwell on Pete Smalls Is Dead (2011), which stars Peter Dinklage, Steve Buscemi, Michael Lerner, Tim Roth, Rosie Perez, and Mark Boone Jr. Cole wrote and directed the New York Independent Feature, OK Garage, starring Lili Taylor, Will Patton, and John Turturro. OK Garage won best screenplay at the Avignon, France, Film Festival. 


faculty notes

LAURA COLELLA, Faculty Chair, is an award– winning filmmaker. Her third and most recent narrative feature, Breakfast With Curtis, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2012, and will be released theatrically by Abramorama this fall. At the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards, the film was nominated for a Cassavetes Award, and won the Jameson FIND Distribution Award. Colella was a Sundance Directing and Screenwriting Fellow with her second feature, Stay Until Tomorrow (2004). Her shorts and features have screened at over 100 festivals internationally, winning over 25 awards. Laura is represented by United Talent Agency and Circle of Confusion, and her first two features are distributed by Passion River Films.

TERENCE NANCE was named IndieWire 2013 Breakthough Director for The Oversimplification Of Her Beauty, released this summer. He was cited by Filmmaker Magazine as “one of the 25 new faces of independent film” and by The New York Times as one of “20 directors to watch.” Oversimplification also won the 2012 Gotham Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” The film has been acquired for theatrical distribution by Variance. TILL SCHAUDER wrote, directed, and photographed the documentary The Iran Job, which is currently in release in the U.S. and Europe. It is a critical success and audience favorite from this established filmmaker. Schauder also wrote and directed the award-winning road movie Strong Shit, for ARD/ SWR Germany, and the acclaimed action thriller City Bomber. Till made his U.S. directorial and acting debut with the romantic comedy Santa Smokes, which won several international awards, among them Best Director at the Tokyo International Film Festival. His docu-drama Duke’s House, about Duke Ellington’s Harlem home, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. DAN SCHRECKER is the Creative Director and Visual Effects Supervisor at Look Effects, Inc., with offices in Los Angeles; New York; Vancouver, Canada; and Stuttgart, Germany. Dan was nominated for a BAFTA Award in 2011 for Best Special Effects for the film Black Swan and for Visual Effects Society Awards for Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and Frida. His work includes being Visual Effects Supervisor on Life of Pi, Warm Bodies, Moonrise Kingdom, Limitless, Black Swan, Precious, The Fountain, Frida, and Requiem for a Dream. He is currently working on Noah with Darren Aronofsky.



faculty :: notes :: residency

graphic design The MFA in Graphic Design residency, from October 13-20, 2013, was a week of both pride and sadness as we graduated our pioneering 16-student inaugural class. Congratulations to our inaugural 2013 MFA in Graphic Design graduates In addition to planning our first graduation, we busily made arrangements with several exciting guest designers who gave public lectures and conducted workshops.

DENISE GONZALEZ–CRISP, Professor of Graphic Design at NC State University, where she teaches graduate Media Design. She discussed her recent book, Relational Typography: Systems, Context, Form, Message.

STEFAN G. BUCHER, an American writer, graphic designer, and illustrator, who has created designs for David Hockney, Judd Apatow, Blue Man Group, and The New York Times. D&AD honored him with a Yellow Pencil award for book design, and the Art Directors Club of New York declared him a Young Gun back in 2004. He designed titles for the motion pictures The Fall, Immortals, and Mirror, Mirror, and his time-lapse drawings have appeared on the Emmy–award– winning TV show The Electric Company on PBS. Guest Designer and Critic ANNE WEST joined the residency to work specifically with our thesis students. West is a writer, theorist, and independent curator. Since 1996, she has taught in the Division of Graduate Studies at Rhode Island School of Design, where she supports students across disciplines in conceptualizing and writing their master’s theses. Her research interests include phenomenology, poetics, and interpretive human studies.

Kerri Augenstein Brian Bednarski Gerrit DeVries Margaret Gonzalez Mary Hanrahan Rachael Hatley Curtis Loftis Faye McCoole

Michelle Muhammad Troy Patterson Lisa Rasmussen Loran Saito Julie Sittler Bonita Tanaka Leslie Tane Christine Valerio

TROY PATTERSON won an Idea Award in the Adobe Connects: Design Ignites Change competition for his mobile letterpress work; JULIE SITTLER received the Award of Excellence for her glass work “Springtide” in the 23rd Annual Midwest Season Exhibition at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wasau, WI; RACHAEL HATLEY received a grant from Keep Louisiana Beautiful to work with other members in her community to install her 3D typography, which she crafted from recycled trash. Finally, we were delighted to learn that CURTIS LOFTIS has been appointed Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, NC.

graphic design

graduating student highlights


Faculty member IAN LYNAM recently curated an exhibition that included VCFA faculty and student work in Portland, OR. The exhibition, “Letterfirm,” featured expressive typography and united some of the most diverse graphic designers and typographers in active practice today. VCFA Graphic Design program instructors included SILAS MUNRO, faculty chair; GEOFF HALBER, faculty member; MYLINH TRIEU NGUYEN, Guest Designer/April 2013; and two MFA in Graphic Design students, AARON WINTERS and TROY PATTERSON. Their typographic work and more was on display at Reading Frenzy in Portland from August 20 through September 18, 2013. For more information, visit the gallery website. 


the faculty & students


music composition


faculty :: notes :: residency

The first class of the MFA in Music Composition program graduated at the August 2013 residency. The ceremony capped a week where VCFA was transformed into a veritable music festival. Huge congratulations and enormous gratitude to our inaugural class! Summer 2013 MFA in Music Composition graduates:

Two ensembles-in-residence spent the week on campus rehearsing, performing, and recording music written by students. Each ensemble presented two full concerts of wide-ranging music, with diverse instrumentation that included spoons, berimbau, and tap dancing. Using College Hall Chapel as a concert hall, one of the inaugural class graduates wrote a piece for the historic and much-celebrated 1884 In addition to concerts, Hutchings organ. the residency featured a film music festival, where clips of student–and faculty–scored films were shown, as well as an electronic music showcase, with students and faculty creating music via computers. And once again the Gary Library was converted into a pub, hosting a standing-room-only crowd, for the While it was spirited Songwriters’ Showcase. bittersweet to send off this first class of Music Composition students, it was heartening to welcome the incoming class, which promises to continue the traditions formed over the last two years.

Christian Bitoun Anna Chapman Louise Dierker Jason Malli Ted Mann Timothy Miller

Ariane Miyasaki Gary Rubio Cadena Bruce Sklar Keisha Slaughter Peter Spencer Bill Stevens Whit Van Meter

Excerpt from faculty member Andy Jaffe’s graduation speech:

DIANE MOSER and MICHAEL EARLY performed an evening of electronic and acoustic creative music in June at Grace & St. Paul’s Church in NYC. ROGER ZAHAB had his Penthouse Suite performed in July at an Opera Theater of Pittsburgh concert, which took place at the Beaux Art Ballroom, Pittsburgh, PA. The Composers’ Forum Fund of the Bennington Chamber Music Conference commissioned a new work for string quartet by JOHN FITZ ROGERS. The quartet, Book of Concord, made its premiere performance on Saturday, July 27, during the 2013 Conference. The Chicago Sinfonietta premiered “Shards of Serenity” by JONATHAN BAILEY HOLLAND, commissioned as part of Chi-Scape - a work featuring four short movements, each composed by a different composer, and each focusing on one of the many iconic buildings in Chicago.

JOHN MALLIA created the piece “Fragments and Fields” for violin and cello that was premiered by Collide-O-Scope Music as part of their “Walls and Lattices” event at the Cell Theatre in New York. JONATHAN BAILEY HOLLAND, JOHN FITZ ROGERS, and ROGER ZAHAB each had their music performed as part of Prism Projects’ summer concert at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in New York City. ROGER ZAHAB was the violinist for the performance, with Rob Frankenberry, piano and David Russell, cello.  

RAVI KRISHNASWAMI was recently honored by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) for his work with COPILOT composing the Dishonored game trailer at this year’s AICP Show at MOMA in New York City. The trailer won for Musical Arrangement. Fellow honorees in the category were Beck and Jimmy Cliff. The piece will join MOMA’s permanent archive.

Our students have helped us to learn this important lesson. We will miss our graduates and congratulate them on the moment of their ascension to the next phase of their artistic lives, and hope that this is just the beginning of an ongoing relationship. Indeed, why not?”

music composition

RICK BAITZ’S piece Two Poems for Flute and Alto Flute Solo was performed in June by Andrew Sterman at the National Opera Center in New York City.


the faculty

We do not have to seek to create a benefit for others in creating art – if we make honest and personal art the benefits will accrue in ways we can’t imagine, to beneficiaries unknown.


“In Buddhist philosophy, the effort is more important than the attainment of a goal; the enlightenment in the journey toward it more important. The benefits of honest effort are at once intangible and unimagined at the time of action.


visual art


The Summer 2013 residency once again showcased the range of backgrounds, mediums, and vibrant discourse for which the MFA in Visual Art is known.

faculty :: notes :: residency

“To graduate is to say: ‘This is finished. Yesterday, I was a student – and soon, I will be someone who has accomplished my Master’s degree.

We were joined by Artist-in-Residence Harmony Hammond and visiting artists/lecturers Sandra de la Loza and Hamza Walker. Fourteen new students arrived from places as far flung as Washington and Saskatchewan to Montreal and New York. It was also an honor to have the VCFA Board of Trustees on campus for their quarterly meeting at the celebratory opening reception of the new/ continuing student exhibitions in Alumni Hall (also fondly and notoriously known in our program as the ARK).

The arrow has landed, and now I finally know what it was that I wanted to become when I decided to come to school here.’” Excerpt from Luis Jacob’s graduation speech.

We say farewell to the following Summer 2013 graduates and wish them success in their future professional and artistic endeavors: John Anthony Auciello Steven Bamberg Lisa Beerle Robyn Duff Jessica Halliday Christie Herbert Ken Horne Lainie Kennedy

Jeff Marley Rick Morgan Samantha Perrelli Carrie Ramig Joe Rivera Paul Tonnes Liz Winter Carol Wylie

For those of you attending the CAA conference, we are planning a reception on Friday, February 14th from 5:30 to 7:00pm in Chicago. Location information can be found on our website. We also hope to arrange a gallery visit for students, alumni, faculty, and Artist-Teachers at Faith Wilding’s show at Three Walls Gallery. Please save the dates and check the VCFA website for more details.

We are excited to launch our new semi-annual ’zine, he re .

visiting faculty DALIDA MARIA BENFIELD, a media artist, scholar, and activist whose work engages questions of gender, race, de-coloniality, and geopolitics. She is currently a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and has been an Artist-Teacher with Vermont College of Fine Art since 2010. LUIS JACOB is a Toronto-based multimedia artist and curator whose recent solo exhibitions include “A Finger in the Pie, A Foot in the Door, A Leg in Quicksand”, Kunsthalle Lingen (2012); “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2011); “Tableaux Vivants,” Fonderie Darling, Montreal (2010); and “Without Persons,” Art in General, New York (2010). CAULEEN SMITH produces multi-channel film and video installations that incorporate sculptural objects and text. Her interests range from her roots in structuralist filmmaking to afro-futurist narrative strategies. Smith currently lives in Chicago and is artist–in–resident at Washington Park Arts Incubator.

visual art

FAITH WILDING will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Caucus for Art on Saturday, February 15, 2014, in Chicago during the College Art Association’s annual conference. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public and will be held from 6:00 to 7:00 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Longtime Artist-Teacher and August 2013 Artistin-Residence Harmony Hammond will also be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

It is our hope that H E R E brings together conversations within and across the multiple heres in which we transform our lives as artists, educators, social-citizens, lovers, loners, and cultural workers. The ‘zine will adopt the principles of “cheap art,” using inexpensive black–and–white photocopies on legal- size paper folded in half. Contributions will be printed as they are with Each issue of H E R E will have a minimal editorial intervention regional focus that crosses state and national boundaries; North Atlantic, St. Lawrence River Region, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Delta, Appalachia, Mid-West, Great Lakes Region, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, La Frontera / borderlands, Southern Pacific, Northern Pacific, and the Northern Continent. In addition to having a regional focus, each issue will also offer contributors a theme or set of questions to consider as possible frameworks for composing contributions. Please touch base anytime with questions and contributions to and look for the first issue this winter in your mailbox!


MICHELLE DIZON, current faculty co-chair, is one of eight artists featured in Migrating Identities at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (through September 24, 2103). Her “poetic video essay weaves a family story into layers of local history on Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines, touching on issues of civil strife, multinational industry, and the presence of the United States military.”


the faculty

As our invitation to our Visual Art community of students, alumni/ ae and Artist-Teachers states: “Out of the 365 days of the year that a student at VCFA works towards her or his MFA, only twenty of those days take place on the Montpelier campus. For the remaining 345 days, students develop their studio practice, conduct their visual culture research, engage with materials, sites, audiences, and peers, all from the familiar context of that place where students live and work. The words of the education philosopher Paulo Freire have special resonance for our learning community: “the educator needs to know that his or her ‘here’ and ‘now’ are nearly always the [learners’] ‘there’ and ‘then’.”




faculty :: notes :: residency

This summer’s MFA in Writing residency was an exceptional one and brought a large class of 42 new students who began their time here at VCFA with enthusiasm and full immersion. Our faculty and graduating student lectures and readings proved to be a special experience for all to hear, and we will miss the 31 brilliant writers who The visiting writers added graduated this summer. tears, laughter, and inspiration, from the heartbreaking but brave personal story of Damien Echols to the wonderful conversation between fiction writer Richard Russo and VCFA President Tom Greene; the warmth and good humor of John Warner and, as our Distinguished Visiting Faculty, the revered poet Jean Valentine. She received VCFA’s first honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. Our annual 4th of July event, the prose writers versus poets softball game—which was aired by NPR’s ‘Only A Game’—brought victory to the poets.

Visiting Writers: Winter 2014 As we look ahead to our winter 2014 residency, we’re pleased to announce that JEAN VALENTINE will return as Distinguished Visiting Faculty, giving more students the rare opportunity to spend time with her one-on-one as well as in larger audiences. Also visiting will be poet, memoirist, and fiction writer LUCINDA ROY, along with alumni visitors HARRISON CANDELARIA FLETCHER, creative nonfiction author, and NICHOLAS BENSON, poet and translator.  And a small group of our students are looking forward to joining faculty RICHARD MCCANN and MARY RUEFLE, along with our staff/ MFA alumna coordinator PAMELA TAYLOR ’12 in Puerto Rico for our fourth winter residency in Old San Juan and El Yunque rainforest. Where better to immerse oneself in the complex and intriguing literary traditions of Caribbean/colonial history than this lush island landscape?

We are eagerly looking forward to a new offshoot of the MFA in Writing Program for 2014: our first Vermont College of Fine Arts Novel Retreat. Designed specifically for novelists who are VCFA alumni first and foremost, the retreat will be a time for concentrated work on novels, with group discussions, generative work, readings, manuscript critiques, and other events. Faculty will be Retreat Director and MFA in Writing faculty Connie May Fowler, MFA in Writing faculty Robin Hemley, along with acclaimed novelist Sigrid Nunez. More information can be found on our website.

DAVID JAUSS’S Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories was published in print and e–book editions by Press 53 in September. His short story collections Crimes of Passion and Black Maps were reprinted in e–book format by Dzanc Books this summer. His short story “A Brief History of My Scars” appeared in the literary journal Seems. “Homo Sapiens vs. Homo Fictus,” an essay on characterization, was published in the March/April issue of The Writer’s Chronicle. His essay “The Reverse Side” appears in December in The Room and the World: Essays on the Poet Stephen Dunn, edited by Laura McCullough and published by Syracuse University Press. CLINT MCCOWN’S novel, Haints, has won the Midwest Book Award for literary fiction. In Pacific Walkers, NANCE VAN WINKEL’S sixth collection of poems, she encounters figures devoid of history but enduring among human kind as lockered remains, and figures who come with histories—first names and dates, and faces preserved in photographs—but who no longer belong to anyone.


the faculty


RAPHAEL MATTO ’14 received his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing Poetry at Skidmore College in 2001 and was awarded the school’s only poetry prize. After graduating, he traveled the world, enjoying a ten-year career in the feature film industry as a visual effects artist, working on many films including Avatar, Ice Age 2, District 9, and 30 Days of Night. Currently, Matto is building and supervising the visual effects department at Pandapanther, a small animation studio working on its first feature Matto is pursuing an MFA in Writing at VCFA, film in NYC’s East Village. focusing on poetry. Poetry is Raphael’s first real love. His poems typically reimagine or distort features of major religions, or warn of environmental devastation with surreal post-apocalyptic speculations—sometimes integrating animation and visual art. He and his faculty advisor Leslie Ullman are investigating the link between hallucinations resulting from brain damage and the poetic image.


Student Profile



faculty :: notes :: residency

writing for children & young adults What a fabulous run of events this July! Don Tate, award-winning illustrator and author of It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw, thoroughly engaged the Writing for Children & Young Adults program this summer, providing dynamic insight into his artistic and professional development in the field. And we were equally honored to have Leonard Marcus on campus in July, arriving just on the heels of the opening of his exhibit “Why Children’s Books Matter,” which he curated at The New York Public Library. As an eminent scholar of children’s literature and author of award-winning books and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the Horn Book magazine, he brought a wealth of knowledge and insight to VCFA. Graham Salisbury, one of the program’s founding faculty members and alumnus of the MFA in Writing program, provided a warm and engaging reading to boot. His books have been celebrated widely with praise and distinguished awards. Both Graham Salisbury and Leonard Marcus’s events overlapped with the Alumni Mini-Residency. While the AMR hosts a master class for WCYA alumni, the shared readings, lectures, and very successful summer auction provided students and faculty an opportunity to engage with over 50 alumni who returned to Montpelier this summer.

Congratulations to our summer 2013 scholarship winners. BONNIE PIPKIN was the recipient of the $500 Alumni Gift Award, a scholarship that recognizes leadership, inspiration, support of fellow students, and/or contributions to the program. This semester’s $1,000 Critical Thesis Prize was awarded to CALLIE MILLER for “The Beloved Thief: Giving an Account of the Prolific and Paradoxical Nature of the Archetype of Robin Hood.” ROBIN KIRK and CYNTHIA SURRISI were also recognized for their outstanding critical theses as runners-up. LoriGoe Nowak received $775 for the Flying Pig Grade-A, Number-One Ham Humor Award, which is generously sponsored by alumna ELIZABETH BLUEMLE of Flying Pig Books in Shelburne, Vermont. FPGANOH-HA celebrates, supports, and encourages the inclusion of humor in children’s literature from the silliest to the most serious. One of our newer awards, The Holy Smokes! This Makes a Difference! prize was awarded to JOE MCGEE. This $1,000 scholarship is open to students in the 2nd and 3rd semester and is offered each term. Holy Smokes! is most generously funded by an alumna to recognize strong academic achievement as well as to provide needed support for a WCYA student. The $1,000 Marion Dane Bauer scholarship, in honor of one the program’s dearest founding faculty members and first Faculty Chair, was awarded to ANNE BOWEN for her story “Reuben Newman Holds His Breath.” JAN LOWER received $300 for her submission to the In a Nutshell Short Story Award. This prize, funded by five members of the July 2007 graduating class, recognizes this challenging form of good storytelling.

A.S. KING IS the award-winning author of acclaimed young adult books including the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Ask the Passengers; Andre Norton Award finalist Everybody Sees the Ants; 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz; and the upcoming Reality Boy and Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. She has been an Edgar Allen Poe Award nominee, a Nebula nominee, a Lambda Literary Award nominee, and a YALSA top ten pick. King’s short fiction for adults has been widely published and nominated for Best New American Voices. After fifteen years of living and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children. Find more at MARTINE LEAVITT received the 2013 Young Adult Book Award in May at the Canadian Library Association’s National Conference in Winnnepeg for My Book of Life by Angel (Groundwood Books/Farrar Straus Giroux).

Collaboration with Graphic Design This summer’s Picture Book Intensive panel featured a special collaboration between students in the WCYA and Graphic Design programs. WCYA student Tzippy Cohen wrote a picture book story in response to GD student Lisa Rasmussen’ illustrations, which she had created as part of her third semester project. This inversion of the usual picture book progression fostered a dialogue between the writer and artist as each worked in response to the other’s process and artistic needs, a process that Tzippy discussed as part of her presentation to the WCYA community in July. Lisa’s project will be included in her graduating Graphic Design exhibit this October.

writing for children & young adults

GARRET FREYMANN-WEYR is a novelist and teacher whose seven books have been banned, translated into some unusual languages, and included in college curricula. She is a Printz honor award recipient and her short stories have been published in the Greensboro Review, the now sadly missed Christopher Street, and the forthcoming anthology Starry Eyed. She is a native of New York City and currently makes her home in Davidson, NC. Her MFA is in film & screenwriting (because life is full of odd turns). You can go to her webpage for more information and a virtual cup of tea:


current students:


visiting faculty:



Tom Greene Talks to Richard Russo

here and I want to start tonight as novelists, in medias res, a term that means in the middle of things, and in this case, in the middle of your literary career. I’ve really wanted to know about the day you found out you won the Pulitzer Prize. That’s got to be Christmas, New Year’s, and your birthday all wrapped into one for a novelist. I’m curious— how did it change the way you saw yourself in the arc of your career—beyond the realization that you probably had just discovered the first line of your obituary?

tom greene:

It gave me a great deal of confidence that I was doing the right thing with my life. But to answer your question, as I’m sure you all know, the Pulitzer is the last of the literary awards to get announced, and in many ways it’s the most humane because it doesn’t announce a short list and then allow you to twist in the wind for a month to find out whether you’re going to win. And because it was the last, you know the PEN/Faulkner had come before that and the National Book Critics Circle, National Book Award, several

richard russo:

regional awards—all of them good—and Empire Falls hadn’t been shortlisted for any of them. I’d long since made my peace with the fact that that ship had sailed. And so when the day of the Pulitzer announcement rolled around, I thought, well, you can sit around like an idiot and wait for the phone that’s not going to ring to ring, or you can go out and play tennis, which is what I did, being a sensible person. One of the things that I was struck by in reading your memoir (Elsewhere: A Memoir, Knopf) is that in many ways your approach to becoming a writer was actually a rather cautious one. It wasn’t until late in your


Editor’s note: On July 2nd, 2013, President Tom Greene sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo. The event took place before an audience of more than 450 students, faculty, staff, and members of the Montpelier community, during the Summer 2013 MFA in Writing residency. This conversation has been abridged.

vermont college of fine arts

A conversation between Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo and President Tom Greene on the writing life, inspiration, and “discovering the first sentence”.


richard russo


. . . I’d love to know what I was doing right at the beginning [of a book] but generally I am just feeling my way around in the dark.”


career that you left a tenured job at Colby and decided to write full-time. In 1967, you went to University of Arizona and ended up staying there for ten years, earning a BA, an MFA, and ultimately a PhD. You met the love of your life, Barbara, who is here tonight. You have a 1960 Ford Galaxy, and at some point, you grew an enviable moustache. But when did you get the bug? When did you decide that “I’m going to do this and move it from being a secret thing?” Fairly late and yes, I think you’re right. You don’t go around announcing to people that you’re a writer until the time is right, because the first thing that they always ask you is, “Oh, where can I get one of your books?”—which, until you have one, you realize what a dead end that conversation really is; and so you don’t tell people you are a writer. Depending on how confidant you are, you might tell them that you are writing, but not that you are writer. I was finishing up a PhD in American Literature at the University of Arizona. I was


in one of those graduate assistant offices where there were 16 desks, which meant that there were 32 of us sharing one large cow barn of an office. It seemed to me that everybody who was having any fun in the English Department, they were all over in creative writing. greene:

That’s still true, by the way.

Seems to be and interestingly, they were the ones who after a three-hour seminar would go out drinking to continue talking about art, art with a capital A and of course literature and writing. My literature colleagues were really kind of drudges. They went home and read academic criticism. So, I decided to take



What you are talking about is writing beyond experience. And so, it just seems to me that to do what writers, poets, painters, what all artistic people have to do, whether we’re right or not, we have to believe in the imagination.”


Tom Greene Talks to Richard Russo

richard russo

a lesson or two. My writing for the first year… my friend and mentor Bob Downs told me that every writer has about a thousand pages of really awful prose in them before they can start writing seriously and then he looked at what I’d given him and he said, “In your case, you’re an academic, so make that two thousand.” But, once I started writing, even when I realized I was writing really badly, I’d found an obsession that wasn’t going to kill me. For me, as anyone who’s read Elsewhere knows, obsessive-compulsive disorder cuts a wide swath through my family on both sides: my father, who came back from the War a gambler and my mother, whose life was very circumscribed by her rituals and her obsessions. greene: So,

you became a writer. In 1986 you published Mohawk, your first novel. And the thing that struck me when I recently reread this is how fully evolved your voice was back then. One can read Mohawk and 20 years later Bridge of Sighs, and there’s that same sort of authorial voice in that book. What is your writing process?

russo: I’ve

always written books pretty much the same way and there are probably better ways to write them, but I always write them this way: I write 75 pages and about page 75, I write what I realize is the first sentence of the book. And then I go back and I take that first sentence and I write another 75 pages, at which point a character walks on who I

realize had to be there in chapter one; and so I go back and I put her there in chapter one. And then I write another 75 pages. And so I’m always discovering either the first sentence or the first significant act/action of the book or a new character who of course had to be there from the beginning, she just hadn’t introduced herself yet—all of these things that are constantly forcing me to go back and address the beginning of the book again. And finally the book does get written. Most of my books have probably five, six, seven starts. I’d love to be able to know what I was doing right at the beginning (what a gift that would be), but generally I’m just feeling my way around in the dark, trying to figure out the size of the room, what to avoid, the furniture that’s sitting there that needs to be avoided. We both came from tough towns, former mill towns, in my case, Worcester, Massachusetts, and in your case, Gloversville, New York. You grew up in a culture of storytellers, and your storytelling ability grew out of that. I’m wondering if there’s something about your background and that sort of working–class environment that not only has become a rich subject matter for you, but is something that actually fuels your ability to be the raconteur you are.


russo: I

I was in a three-year program at the University of Arizona’s MFA but I was only in it for a year because I did a PhD actually first; so all my course work except for my workshops were already done. So I had basically one year in the MFA program, where others would have two or three. But, what it was for me was a port in a storm, for one thing. Two or three years in which you are in a place with other people, you’re all doing the same thing, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anybody. The fiction writers, the poets, the nonfiction writers—it’s such a strange thing, isn’t it – writing? It’s really hard to explain to people. If you’re trying to be a writer and there’s nobody else around who’s writing, you’ll


many ways, you write big, oldfashioned novels. Another time when I was honored to introduce you, I compared you to being our contemporary Dickens. And I’m wondering if there is ever a part of you that wished you lived a hundred years ago at a time when novels were set more at the center of culture? No, I don’t think so, I think I was born at the right time. And I think I’m just glad to have been able to do what I did when I did it. My understanding is that people’s hygiene in 19th Century wasn’t great. So, no, I’m glad to be where I am.


And then my final question for you is I know you’re working on a sequel to Nobody’s Fool called Everybody’s Fool. It’s very exciting you have another piece of work out. There seems to be this trend lately, though, or maybe it’s just a function of people living longer or partying less or something, but writers are retiring, which I guess makes some sense.


I think I’m just going to get slower and slower, not stop entirely. I mean I’m going to be 64 here in a couple of weeks, I don’t have the energy that I had as a younger man; but I don’t think I make quite as many of the same kinds of mistakes that I made as a younger man. So, I’m hoping that I’ll become like the tennis player who begins to lose his step, but more than makes up for it by becoming a little wilier, a little more shrewd and astute.


watch the entire conversation at: www. Russo’s Elsewhere: A Memoir, was published in 2012.

vermont college of fine arts

here at an MFA residency. So, I want to ask you about the value of the teaching of writing. Vonnegut famously said, “You can’t really teach writing. It’s like golf, maybe you can take a few strokes off someone’s game.” I remember when Michael Korda, the editor at Simon & Schuster, bought my first novel; the first thing he said to me when he called me up in this clipped British accent was, “You write awfully well for someone with an MFA.” And I actually had another editor at Harper Collins who would write across the page “stop MFAing” in different places. It was sort of a shorthand for being too digressive or something. I’m wondering what you think the value of having a formal education for writers might be?

greene: In


greene: We’re

find yourself explaining the curious nature of what you do to almost everybody all the time; whereas, if you are in an MFA program, you don’t have to explain anything to anybody. Everybody knows what you’re doing, what you’re there for, and you’re probably going through a lot of the same things. So there’s that sense of community, as I say, a port in the storm, that is really good. I think technically, which is I think what Vonnegut was talking about . . . when people say to me that you can’t teach anybody to write, I say, “That’s like saying you can’t teach anybody to play the piano. Of course you can.”


can remember being genuinely furious, angry, actually homicidal only a few times. And the time that I remember being most angry was when Siskel and Ebert reviewed the wonderful movie that Robert Benton made of Nobody’s Fool. And Gene Siskel . . . I still haven’t forgiven him. He’s dead, but I still have not forgiven him for this. He actually had the audacity to say that one of the problems with the movie, as with the novel, was that these low-class working people were so witty, as if wit were something that you could only get with a Yale degree. I read reviews and I get reviewed sometimes and I get reviewed poorly sometimes and usually the reviews, even the really bad reviews, I manage not to take offense at. But, on behalf of the people who taught me—the men that I worked with when I was working road construction with my father all those years. These were some of the smartest, wittiest people I ever met. They weren’t particularly educated, they weren’t readers. But they were so funny and their humor so often grew out of just how bad things were, right? And, so yeah, when that review came out, I just stormed around the house kicking things as a result of that comment.

by dale kushner ’83 w



Thoughts on Post-MFA Life illustration by alex budnitz


LIKE THE FOOL IN THE TAROT, when we leave graduate school we’re all potentiality, accompanied solely by our trustworthy dog, our instincts. As an inner quest, it’s a solitary journey, but one that outwardly propels us to seek a balance between engagement with others and communion with our private souls. To paraphrase John Updike: Writers are cave-dwellers who want to be chased into the cave. Most of us in the arts welcome interiority, but not to the exclusion of interaction and attention. Probably it’s an exaggeration to think of leaving the MFA fold as exile—graduation is a ritual of transition not an enforced condition—but let’s face it, once we depart the walled villa of graduate school, its significant mentors and tribes of friends, we’ve changed. I’m talking about often radical transformation, shifts in perception, self-awareness, altered habits of speech and thought—subtle and wrenching metamorphoses. A funny image comes to mind. Remember Lon Chaney in the Wolf Man movies? Remember how his forehead would begin to bulge and fur crept up his neck? Remember the horrifying spectacle of watching him watch himself become a beast? Let’s just play with the idea that VCFA grad school has the opposite, civilizing effect.

The Civilizing Effect

thoughts on postmfa life

Dale Kushner’s poetry manuscript, More Alive Than Lions Roaring, was a finalist for The Prairie Schooner Book Competition and The May Swenson Award at Utah State. Her debut novel, The Conditions of Love, was published by Grand Central Publishing in spring 2013.

vermont college of fine arts

Hanh, whom she calls “Thay,” replied: “Thay speaks of sangha at a cellular level (the sangha body), which is totally interrelated to refuge… when we’re together as a practice community (sangha), we rest in common shared values, and then when we go outside, we’re the living embodiment of that community (we’re a cell representing that body, reflecting those values and commitments of that body). We return to the sangha/community for refuge, to rest and replenish ourselves. We know we create something together as a sangh that no one can create individually.” We’re a cell representing that body, reflecting those values…This is the perfect image of how I think of post-MFA life. We take refuge in the teachings we’ve absorbed, in our creative selves, and in the good company of others. When we need support, we find each other. We return to campus for retreats. We’re never without sources or resources. We continue together as as sangha, as vital cells of a living whole.


Or let’s say we’re initiates undergoing a rite of passage— we’re being scarified, tattooed, sent to the moon hut, learning to decode the stars. The purpose is to move us to the next stage of development. The transition is luminal but time-bound: for ten days we’re severed from the known world. Our preconceptions about ourselves, our work, the meaning of work are morphing. Soon we’ll be bestowed adult membership in the clan. We’ll carry on the tradition. We’re the seeds, the fruit. The British psychiatrist Anthony Storr suggests that when a break with the past is imminent and issues of identity, belonging, and continuity arise—while the furniture in our psyche is being rearranged—patience, retreat, and reflection are required. Simply put, don’t rush to the surface of your life without expecting to get the bends. If art is an act of incarnation so is the evolution of an artist. On the other hand, when it’s time to leave campus as graduates, we’re beset by homesickness and anxiety. It’s been a big experience. Without the structure of a residency, without assignments, deadlines, or the goal of attaining a degree, how will we manage to keep our public/domestic lives from usurping our artistic space? We’re lonely for the old life, our teachers and our cohorts. Where will we now find community? Inspiration and support? In post-MFA life we’re a scattered lot. But we belong to a history we carry as part of our identity, a place inside ourselves, a refuge we can return to again and again when our creativity feels in jeopardy. Recently I emailed my friend and dharma teacher Cheri Maples ( about the Buddhist notion of sangha and taking refuge. Cheri, ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat


In post-MFA life we’re a scattered lot. But we belong to a history we carry as part of our identity, a place inside ourselves, a refuge we can return to again and again when our creativity feels in jeopardy.





Making the darkness concious

the darkness the darkness concious concious Creativity is the unexplainable of you — the constant contracting muscles of your heartbeat, the breath that in sleep moves in and out of your chest, and the power that at conception split from a solitary cell into the 70 trillion potentialities of you—able to read these words, able to discern their truth. Alumni magazine in hand, each of you continues the greatest creative conversation of your lives, the conversation with the self. by Nikki Juen

art by

Kerri Augenstein ’13 GD


vermont college of fine arts

figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” Within all there is a faith, a faith that like failing eyesight reveres what light remains; a faith repeatedly forgotten like how much you are beauty, like how much you are love. You are always both of these things, rest assured. When we are worried about the past or projecting into the future we are not living in the present. The present is where creativity naturally occurs, where we can experience our unlimited power to create. In The Artful Universe, Dr. William Mahony offers that creativity is thought and consciousness itself; and, further, he likens “creative power to be equivalent to the functioning of the mind.” I’ll pause with you now as we travel through the last hour of the Niagara that has passed through our cerebral cortexes. But this thought deluge isn’t the problem; on the contrary, it’s the unique gift of our human distinction. Creativity’s nemeses are the hard rocks of fear we find our backs pressed up against as the Will you be the water pressure forces the breath out and up in one enamored expert raspy wheeze. It’s the gnarled roots of judgement of the rub and burn puncturing the placid deceit of surface before the as energies collide Falls. It’s the rudderless hull of the mind awash in and limitations the day to day. bring form to GD MFA candidate Terrill Thomas, in his emerging ideas? most recent packet, wrote that staring at a solitary raspberry leaf from his garden and marveling at The same force of being that propels success, the mountains and valleys designed to capture simultaneously wrestles us to the ground, knees sun and water; that there is a tiny universe, a raw psyche pleading. You are never not creative. microcosm of life. The mystery of the universe You actively choose to set your phasers to creativity. distilled into a single leaf. This form of receptive Eyelashes to scope, sighting your vision to what attention is a practice of listening to your own the rest of nature already knows. To what you creative vision. It’s a presence with what is to know already know. Nicole Juen is a founding the story of your work. Be it the work of your faculty member in Graphic discipline or the work of your household, there is “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” little difference. Even in the rich diversity of our Design. Juen’s award—Pablo Picasso winning professional humanness we don’t need to be fixed as much as practice in graphic design we need to receive, to listen to the wisdom of our Creativity is a practice like any other; it is a needy own experience. Creativity can be chaos; can you creates relationships on force of being. Like sit-ups there is an aching burn, navigate the inner-gaze towards empathy in your paper, with pixels, and a black-bottomlessness and a desire to quit. There between people, none own experience? Can you see the all of you as the is the futility and the faking it. As Carl Jung said, of which, she believes, generative ground of creativity? “One does not become enlightened by envisioning functions optimally Watch a bubble as it rises toward the surface without the other. navigating the tension of the water, careening left and right, patient, yearning in its disciplined ascent, parting the surface of the water, liberated to atmospheric delight. Will you be the enamored expert of the rub and burn as energies collide and limitations bring form to emerging ideas? Can you rest in the questions of your work? No really, can you take a nap and trust what may emerge? Recognizing that in you, as you, is all the creative power you’ll ever need.


People often think of the human body as a fixed and constant structure, a form whose state, diagnoses or sensitivities are definitions or sentences punctuated. Studies show the vast majority of the human body is in a constant state of change as old cells are discarded and new cells are created. The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every ten years. The human liver every six to eight weeks. The lining of the stomach every five days. Skin, two to four weeks, a primary evidence of creative power is encased by our own evolving epidermis. I throw-my-head-back-bare-my-throat-laugh when someone tells me that they are not creative, and that therefore I must be so lucky to be born creative. Lucky yes, but pulling the double–edged sword of truth out of its sheath in my chest, I stab back, don’t you know how I suffer for my work?

DURING A WORKSHOP on Open Space Technology, Gerritt DeVries, Aaron Winters, and faculty member Geoff Halber explore ideas on design education and a utopian vision.

graphic design


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class news



Elinor Benedict W Her poem “Metamorphosis Among the Vegetables” appeared in The Dogwood Anthology Selection of Fairfield University.

Sue Cowing W Her young adult novel Call Me Drog the UK edition of her novel You Will Call Me Drog, has been shortlisted for a 2013 United Kingdom Literacy Association Book Award in the junior book category.

Pamela Harrison W was the headliner, reading from her new book What to Make of It at an event held by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire at Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH. In April in honor of National Poetry Month she shared the podium with Cleopatra Mathis and Neil Shephard at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. Dale Kushner W launched her new book The Conditions of Love with readings at the Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, WI, A Room of One’s Own in Madison, WI, The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL, Inquiring Minds Bookstore, New Paltz, NY, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock, NY, and Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI. Susan Pope W Feathers (Finishing Line Press), a chapter book of her poems, was published in June.


1988 Ned Bachus W His latest novel, City of Brotherly Love, is one of two books named Gold Medal winner of the 2013 Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) for Literary Fiction.

Thomas E. Kennedy W The third novel of his Copenhagen Quartet, titled Kerrigan in Copenhagen, A Love Story, is being republished by Bloomsbury Publishing in the US and UK. It was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review on July 7th, 2013 and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice on July 14, 2013.


Phyllis Barber W The University of Valencia Press in Spain has published a book titled Parting the Mormon Veil: Phyllis Barber’s Writing. The English text is written by Angel Chaparro who wrote his doctoral thesis on Barber’s body of work and her role in Mormon literature and Western American culture.

Eloise Klein Healy W published her seventh collection of poetry A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings. Recently appointed as the first Poet Laureate of the City of Los Angeles, Healy is also the founder of Arktoi Books and the founder of the Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA in Creative Writing Program where she is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emerita.

Michael Carrino W has a new book, By Available Light (Guernica Editions). He had a reading at Amazing Grace Vineyards in Chazy, NY, in April.

Postgraduate Writers’ Conference

1985 Carole Borges W Her memoir Dreamseeker’s Daugther about growing up aboard the old schooner on the Mississippi River in the 1950s is available in print, e-book and audio book formats.

This year’s annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference featured over 80 participants. They enjoyed a full schedule of offerings—readings, classes, generative sessions, special events, and social activities with a stellar faculty and writers across all the genres. It was a summer immersion experience that attendees have called, “the best week of their writing lives”.

Ted Deppe W and Annie Deppe will be hosting Curlew 4, October 11th—18th, a writers’ week in Howth, Ireland. Prominent Irish authors give talks and readings, and there are workshops and literary field trips into Dublin. Contact teddeppe2@hotmail. com for information. Ted is the author of four books of poems, most recently Orpheus on the Red Line (Tupelo). Annie has two books of poems out with Summer Palace Press in Ireland, where they have lived since 2000.

1990 Matthew Goodman W His narrative history Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s HistoryMaking Race Around the World was published by Ballantine Books in February 2013. It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and an Indie Next “Great Reads” selection, as well as an Amazon Best History Book of the Month, an iTunes Best Book of the Month, and a Parade magazine Top Pick.

1991 Michael Klein W This spring, he gave a reading of his new book, The Talking Day (Sibling Rivalry Press), with Will Schutt in New York City. Will Schutt’s first manuscript Westerly won the 2012 Yale Younger Prize.

1992 Dick Bentley W announces his collection All Rise, which includes short stories, poems, and graphic art. Eleanor Morse W Her recent novel, White Dog Fell from the Sky (Penguin), was a Publisher’s Weekly “Pick of the Week.” The audio version received an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine in March. The U.K. print edition was released in April.


Kapulani Landgraf VA has been awarded the 2013 Native Arts & Cultures Visual Arts Fellowship. The fellowships honor Native artists who have made significant impact in their discipline, who are respected by their colleagues and in the greater arts field, and who are emerging as powerful voices in the arts.



Lisa Lenard-Cook W Her newest book, Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir, written with Lynn C. Miller, is now available from University of Wisconsin Press.

Kapulani Landgraf VA has been awarded the 2013 Native Arts & Cultures Visual Arts Fellowship. The fellowships honor Native artists who have made significant impact in their discipline, who are respected by their colleagues and in the greater arts field, and who are emerging as powerful voices in the arts.


Curtis Smith W Press 53 has just released his new story collection, Beasts & Men. In 2015, Aqueous Books will publish his next novel, Lovepain.

1997 Les Edgerton W His new novel The Rapist (New Pulp Press) has been compared to Camus’s The Stranger. “An instant modern classic,” claims Allan Guthrie, publisher of Blasted Heath.

Ellen Cassedy W has been awarded the 2013 Towson Prize for Literature for her book We Are Charlie Lovett W His novel The Michele Leavitt W Her memoir Here: Memories of the Lithanian Bookman’s Tale (Viking) has been excerpt “Kitten Sack” was published chosen as this season’s Barnes & Noble Holocaust (University of Nebraska in the February issue of Hippocampus. “Recommends” title, named a top summer Press). She also won the Grub Street Five poems from her poetry manuscript read by Parade magazine, the Los National Prize for Nonfiction. In May, Virus Controversiae appeared in the she did a reading and workshop Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Spring issue of the Tower Journal. at Grub Street’s “Muse and the Star Tribune, is an alternate selection Marketplace Conference.” She recently She was a semi-finalist in the 2013 of the Book of the Month Club and has returned from a book tour in Lithuania, Discovery/Boston Review competition sold in 11 foreign markets. and in April hosted a poetry slam, where her book has been published “Imagine Unity,” with over $1,500 in cash Terry Ann Thaxton W Her collection in Lithuanian by Media Incognito/ prizes at Unity College in Maine. Obuolys. of poems The Terrible Wife has been published by Salt Publishing. Norbert Hirschhorn W Yvonne Zipter W participated His collection To Sing Away in Celebrate National Poetry Month 1998 Chicago-style—Deep-dish Poetry from Pete Driessen VA was awarded the Darkest Days, Poems Chicagoans. Capsules with original a 2012 Metropolitan Regional Arts Re-imagined from Yiddish poems inside a toy-vending machine Council Community Arts Grant for Folksongs (Holland Park Press) is were installed by the Press Employee his independent, alternative gallery the culmination of a five-year project Relations & Knowledge Sharing Tuck Under Projects, as well as a 2013 to source more than one thousand Committee of the University Press, Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Yiddish songs. Some of the songs including poems by Chicago writers. Initiative Grant. “spoke” to him as a poet and begged Proceeds benefited Working in the for a new translation. The resulting Schools (WITS), a local organization collection tells the story of the S Stephanie W had three poems that promotes literacy in public schools and an interview published in the May emigrant, the Jew in the Diaspora, by volunteer-based mentorship while drawing on the poet’s own issue of Solidus, the Colby-Sawyer programs. experience. College Literary Magazine.

vermont college of fine arts



Mary Jo Firth Gillett W was the Chapter Book winner of the Hill-Stead Museum Contest for Dance Like A Flame and she participated in the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in July in Farmington, CT. Special thanks to the Kresge Foundation for a Kresge Fellowship in the Literary Arts which helped in the writing of this book.


Susan Spencer Crowe VA had two pieces in “Some Assembly Required: Artists Connect the Unexpected” at the Albany Airport. A review appeared in The Albany Times Union in March.

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Pete Driessen VA is the recipient of a 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. He also was awarded a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Community Arts Grant in FY 2012 for his independent, alternative gallery Tuck Under Projects.


class news Laura Burkhart W The limited edition hand-bound print run of Watermarks, her second book of poetry, was published in October 2012 and quickly sold out. However, limited edition broadsides and collector cards that feature photographs and poem excerpts are still available from the publisher, Wild Sage Press.



Emily Bilman W Her new book Sue Allison W was the recipient of the Pushcart Award for her essay titled Ekphrasis (Peter Lang) is about the “Made To Measure,” which was first evolution of the verbal description of published in the Antioch Review and a visual artwork from Plato to Derrida and analyzes paintings by Lucien Freud, has now been published in the 2013 de Chirico, Paul Klee, and poems by Pushcart Prize Collection. Micheal Hamburger, Sylvia Plath, and Howard Nemerov among others. The book also traces the evolution of creativity from Aristotle to Freud, Klein, Ehrenzweig, and Derrida. Lynn Imperatore VA has been selected as part of the Royal West of England Academy Exhibit “Drawn/2013.” She is also part of the exhibition’s Drawing Lab, which is part of the HATCH Drawing Research Project, for which she is the co-founder and co-editor. HATCH brings together researchers and practitioners in order to explore, expand, uncover, and incubate themes around drawing. She also made a presentation at the end of May as a part of the conference “Drawing in the University Today/International Meeting on Drawing, Image and Research: Atlas & Vocabulary of Drawing” at the University of Porto.

Lynn Levin W has two new books out: Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press), her fourth collection of poems, and Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture Press), a craft-of-poetry text, with co-author Valerie Fox. Lynn has recently published an essay in Southwest Review, fiction in Cleaver, and translations in Mandorla.

Lynn Imperatore ’99 VA

Nellie Brannan VA participated in a 24-hour art challenge called “What a Difference a Day Makes” where 24 artists had a day to create an artwork based around a small set of prompts and guidelines. These works will be sold to raise money for Very Special Arts Brevard. The project intended to highlight the creative process and why artists make art.

April Pulley Sayre WCYA Her book Here Come the Humpbacks! illustrated by Jamie Hogan was released by Charlesbridge in February. Her adult nonfiction book Touch A Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids, which she photo illustrated, was released by Roost Books/Shambhala Press in April.

Craig Stockwell VA participated this spring in an exhibit “Minimalism and Not” at Gallery Benoit in Boston.

Shawn Merwin W contributed to three books—The Halls of Undermountain, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, and Dungeon Delve—and many online articles published by Wizards of the Coast, owner of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Loretta De Grandis VA had an exhibit “Feline Pleasures” at Jana’s Red Room in Las Vegas. In this show she chose mainly her study of cats, their pleasures, whimsy, mystery, and the color they bring to the world around them.

Nancy Hewitt W Heard is her first poetry chapter book with cover art by her husband, Richard Smith.

Barbara Buckman Strasko W published her first full–length collection of poetry, Graffiti in Braille (Word Press), in October 2012. Strasko is the River of Words Teacher of the Year and her poem “Bricks and Mortar” will be engraved in granite and bronze in the main square of her city in Lancaster, PA. Patricia Buddenhagen W Her article “La Pura Vida” was published in Scrivener Creative Review this past spring. Toni De Palma WCYA announces the publication of her new YA paranormal The Devil’s Triangle (Crescent Moon Press). It is the first book in The Devil series. Shelagh Shapiro W Her story “Ophelia Invisible” will be in an anthology by The Burlington Writers Group. Also, her radio show continues weekly production with recent guests Tracy Chevalier, Moira Crone, and Mohsin Hamid.

Lynn Hazen WCYA organized spring classes at The Writing Garden in San Francisco including: “No-Pressure Poetry Techniques” taught by Ellen Yeomans, and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet: The Changing World of Children’s Book Publishing” led by Alex Arnold, Editorial Assistant at Katherine Tegen Books. Susan McCarty W has been appointed Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD, where she will teach Creative Writing and Literature. Kenny Williams W His poem “The Return” was a featured finalist in Rattle’s 2012 competition. His poem “The Hummingbird” was featured in Rattle’s recent issue dedicated to Poets of the South.

Loretta De Grandis ’04 va

vermont college of fine arts

Tracy Mendham W spent a week in Montreal at National Academic Advising Association’s (NACADA) Region One conference, “Advising without Borders.” She hopes any other VCFA-ers working in higher ed advising will join her at next year’s conference in Newport, RI.


Kim Aubrey W Her essay “Fall and Spring” will appear in the anthology How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting: Stories of Pregnancy, Parenthood and Loss published by TouchWood Editions. She is one of the founding editors of Red Claw Press, which recently published Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep, an anthology of poems, essays, stories, and art, including work by VCFA alumni.


Maggie Kast W Her essay “Symbols: Forest of Ambiguity,” published in the February issue of Numero Cinq, is an expanded version of her panel presentation on contradiction from AWP in Austin, TX. Other presenters at the conference included David Jauss, Peggy Shinner, Kim Aubrey, and Elaine Batcher.



2001 Xtine Burrough VA and Paul Martin Lester’s Visual Communication on the Web (Routledge 2012), is a collaboration of Burrough’s exercises accompanied by Lester’s concise introductions to relate history, principles, and visual communication theories to the practice of web design. Each paperback book includes a free subscription to the interactive e-book format.

2002 Alexandra Chasin W participated in “Writing On It All” in June on Governors Island in NYC. Writers and artists wrote all over the interior of an out-of-use house featuring graffiti, movement, poetry, and more as an experiment with collaboration, materiality, site-specificity, and ephemerality.

class news 2005



Shaindel Beers W Her second full-length poetry collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released by Salt Publishing in February.

class news

Brad Birchett VA His essay “Discipline and Practice” has recently been published by Integrative Teaching International in their academic journal Future Forward: Foundations NOW. Terry S. Johnson W Her first poetry book titled Coalescence will be published in June 2014 by WordTech Communications. Margarite Landry W Her short story “Out of Egypt” appears in the current Baltimore Review and her short story “The Blanket Plucker” recently received first prize in the Wordstock Ten 2012 Anthology, judged by Steve Almond. Hatsy McGraw WCYA Her poem “Polishing Silver” was published on the Women’s Voices for Change website in March. Meg Rains W Her essay “The Memory of My Disappearance” appeared in the March 2013 issue of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction. Tina Rice VA is the founder and lead designer of Insight Design Studios, which has been awarded Outstanding Achievement in Website Development by the Interactive Media Awards™ for its work on the Mind Matters Hypnosis website. Christopher Soden W His poetry collection Closer was produced as Hour of the Wolf, an electifying, multimedia poetry nocturne. Sarah Sullivan WCYA Her novel All That’s Missing (Candlewick) will be released in October. Mary Ting VA participated in History! Hauntings and Palimpsests this past spring at the John Jay College Gallery in NYC.

Open House for Historic Vermont College Alumni For the first time, VCFA teamed up with Norwich University to welcome historic Vermont College alumni (graduates of Vermont Junior College, Vermont College, and Vermont College of Norwich University from the 1940s to the 1990s) back to campus on Friday, October 4. VCFA’s open house included a reception, campus tours, and a peek at the archives.

2006 Maureen Alsop W Her second full collection of poetry, Mantic (Augury Press), was recently published. Harrison Candelaria Fletcher W His book Descanso For My Father: Fragments Of a Life won a Bronze Medal in the 2013 Independent Book Publisher Award for Creative Nonfiction. He is also a finalist in the 2013 Colorado Book Awards. N. Griffin WCYA announces the publication of her book The Whole Stupid Way We Are (Atheneum). The book has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and the Horn Book. She was also named a 2013 Publishers Weekly Flying Start author. Robin Oliveira W Her new book, I Always Loved You, will be published by Viking in January 2014. Martha Oliver-Smith W Her poem “Trout Quintet” is in The Waiting Room Reader II, a new anthology edited by Rachel Hadas, published by KavanKerry Press, and part of a series from Laurel Books based on the Literature of Illness and Disability. Kristi Ryba VA was part of the art exhibit ArtFields 2013 in April. ArtFields is a first-of-its-kind Epic Southern Artfest Competition and Celebration to be held in the historic community of Lake City, SC. She then was part of “The Art And Science of Memory” in May at Waterworks Visual Art Center in Salisbury, NC, and will be part of “Fast Forward to the Renaissance” in October at the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth, OH.

2007 Kelly Bennett WCYA thanks the foreign rights team at GP PutnamPenguin Group for Japanese rights to her picture book Your Mommy Was Just Like You, illustrated by David Walker. It will be published in Japan by Iwasaki Shoten. Jay Kauffmann W has new fiction and nonfiction out or forthcoming in Gulf Stream, Prime Number, CutBank, Upstairs at Duroc, Storyglossia, and upstreet. His story collection The Prince of Denmark was on the shortlist for the 2013 Doire Press International Fiction Chapbook Competition. Patricia McInroy VA has an ongoing piece on display at the Massachusetts Green HighPerformance Computing Center in Holyoke, MA, as a moving image art video incorporating clean energy along with the concept of ideas/ research. Two of her one-minute shorts played in April at the Popcorn Noir Theater in Easthampton, MA, as part of One Minute Vid-Fest, which is in conjunction with Reachfest. Patricia also had a short piece screened at the Athena International Film Festival in April. Finally, she had two short pieces screen as part of the “Free Form Film Series” at Denver University. Rocco Scary VA is part of an exhibit at Metro29show, City Without Walls Gallery, Newark NJ. He also participated in the Sixth Annual Book Arts Series workshop titled, “Casting the 3-D Paper Image” featuring the artist’s one-of-akind, sculptural artists’ books that utilize several different techniques. Two of his works have been published in 1000 Artists’ Books; Exploring the Book as Art (Quarry Books). Tamara Smith WCYA had an article based on her MFA critical thesis published in IBBY’s journal BookBird: The International Journal, of Children’s Literature. Her thesis was titled “The Vibrant Triangle: The relationship between the picture book, the child listener and the adult reader.”


2009 A. Hunter Sunrise W announces the publishing of My Brother Died When I Was Twenty-One (FeileFesta).

Joan Sidney WCYA won the Grand Prize in The Whole Megillah Picture Book Contest for Elsa’s Pillow. Linda Smith VA was featured March 21 in a New York Times article “Museum Guards: On Life Beyond the Galleries,” where VCFA gets an honorable mention. Christine Starr Davis W participated in a poetry laboratory and fundraiser for Tupelo Press in May. Her poems were offered daily at the 30/30 Project along with the work of eight other poets.

Rocco Scary ‘07 VA

Nathalie Dupree W Her twelfth book, Southern Biscuits, published by Gibbs-Smith, is a one-of-a-kind book, all about southern biscuits. And her thirteenth book, Mastering the Art of Cooking has received a James Beard nomination with its 1,000-plus recipes. Galen Longstreth WCYA Her picturebook Yes, Let’s, was published in hardcover by Tanglewood Press in April and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Ben Westlie W published his second chapbook of poems, Extraordinary Construction (Finishing Line Press), in March.

Brad Birchett VA was part of a curated group exhibition, “Consolidated Landscape,” at the new gallery Delicious Spectacle, in Washington, DC. His work is a site-specific installation of sound art and collected objects representing his ongoing investigation into the history of the working women in culturally diverse spaces of the past.


vermont college of fine arts

Jill Santopolo WCYA closed a two-book deal with Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, to write the Follow Your Heart series, scheduled to release in Summer 2014 and in Winter 2015.


Lauren Tivey W is still living and teaching in China. Her chapter book, The Breakdown Atlas & Other Poems, was published in 2011, by Big Table Publishing. She has had poems appear recently in Red Fez, Hobble Creek Review, Yellow Mama, Deuce Coupe, Blue Lake Review, The Montucky Review, and Boston Zachary Kopp W has just Literary Magazine, among others. published Sorehead, a novel that She is currently at work on a new poetry manuscript, and keeps up with describes his years at VCFA, and Fire Diner, a collection of poems and shorts. a poetry blog.

Jewel Beth Davis W has had her poems “Spinning” published in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, “Clothes Encounters” published in Spittoon, “Upon a Mattress” published in Red Claw Press, and “Superwoman” published in SN Review.

Ginny Lowe Connors W Her second full-length collection of poems, The Unparalleled Beauty of a Crooked Line, has been published by Antrim House Books. Connors, who runs a small poetry press, Grayson Books, has also edited several poetry anthologies.


Carol Brendler WCYA Her debut middle-grade novel from her WCYA creative thesis, Radio Girl, will be released by Holiday House in early September.

class news 2011


Anna J. Boll WCYA won the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award that honors emerging writers and illustrators and is given to a New England resident for an unpublished work. She read from her manuscript at the awards ceremony this past spring at Lesley University.


class news

Caroline Carlson WCYA was one of BEA Editors’ Buzz Picks and featured on the middle-grade level panel at the BookExpo America Conference for her debut novel Magic Marks the Spot. Amy Rose Capetta (’12 WCYA) was featured on the YA buzz panel for her book Entangled.

2010 Kim Darling VA taught a Drawing and Book Arts Workshop with her husband in June at a Conflict Resolution workshop for Albanian youth living in Skopje, Macedonia. The workshop was designed to help the Muslim youth find positive outlets for their frustration at being discriminated against in their divided and confusing Balkan culture.

2010 Renee Couture VA had an exhibit “Contact Boundary” in April at The Art Gallery at Umpqua Community College, which focused on maintaining the practice of making art where former graduate students were contacted to see if they continued to make work beyond the boundaries of academia.

Lindsey Lane WCYA Her debut YA novel, with the working title Particles, explores themes of loneliness and interconnectedness from multiple viewpoints, set in or around a remote pull-out on a rural highway where a particle-physics-obsessed teenage science genius disappeared. It will be published by Farrar, Straus Children’s in Fall 2014.

Richard Farrell W attended the biannual River Pretty Writers Workshop in April in Tecumseh, MO. River Pretty Robin MacArthur W Her essay has grown into a diverse and vibrant “Dear Vermont,” which previously aired retreat and workshop, bringing on NPR’s State of the Re:Union, together local and national writers, appeared in Orion magazine’s May/ including many VCFA students, alumni, June issue. and faculty. Celeste Provencher W Two of her poems were published in The Best of Jeanne Gassman W Her 2010 flash fiction Haboob Season won Clapboard House, a print anthology first place in the WOW! Fall 2012 Flash of the literary magazine. Fiction Competition. Her short story, “Of Fools and Lunatics,” was also recently Barry Wightman W His novel published in Switchback 16. In Pepperland (Boswell Books) was addition, an excerpt from her novel, The released in March. Blood of A Stone, is included in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts and Letters. The excerpt will be published with the title “Journey to Redemption.”

Jennifer Bowen Hicks W was awarded the Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction and has been chosen as a finalist in the Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize for her essay “Candling Delicious.” Terry Pierce WCYA will teach a new online course “Intermediate Picture Book Writing” for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where students will look at the unique qualities of this art form and learn how to strengthen their picture book manuscripts. Karen Ristuben VA is one of eight artists paired with MIT/WHOI scientists to produce collaborative artworks for the Museum of Science. With a chemical oceanographer, she explored the impact of ocean acidification on pteropods, a shellbearing plankton, and its implications for the ocean. Their piece communicates the issue through 350 acidified eggshells as analogous objects to shellbearing marine organisms. David Morgan Spitzer W has launched to present audio versions of his poetic work, including “archaeology: genesis 1” readings of the ancient Greek, Latin, and German (Luther) texts in addition to his own transfigurations of those texts.

Writing for Children & Young Adults Alumni Mini-Residency “There’s no greater pleasure than in coming home. Especially if one of the places you call home is Vermont College of Fine Arts.” ­—Ginger Johnson, WCYA ’09.



vermont college of fine arts



Cathy Barber W Her poem “Cancer” John Proctor W His essay “How to was written out of frustration at being Tell a Good Joke,” written and edited In July, close to 50 WCYA alumni returned to campus to participate unable to help her friend who was while at VCFA, was selected as a in the annual Alumni Mini-Residency. Participants attended finalist in the experimental nonfiction/ diagnosed. It is included in The Cancer sessions with visiting author and founding faculty member of the poetry journal Diagram’s annual Poetry Project 2, an anthology of program, Graham “Sandy” Salisbury. Also in attendance were agents, editors, and publicists. A debut author panel highlighted recently essay contest, judged by Ander Monson 140 poems by cancer patients and the released and upcoming books. The weekend also included three people who love them. and Nicole Walker. His review/essay sessions of alumni readings, a barbecue on the Green, a roundtable “On ‘Elements’ and Great Teaching with the publishing professionals, and an auction hosted by Tim Moments” was published in Donna Melissa Cronin W Her article Wynne-Jones and Coe Booth. Steiner’s essay chapter book Elements “Translating Trauma into Memoir” was on Brevity’s nonfiction blog. published in Writerland Blog this past spring. Lee Reilly W Her essay “The Relative Nature of Thing” was named Tavia Gilbert W has produced 2012 and published the recording of Rachel Hunger Mountain’s nonfiction winner Mathieu Cailler W His poem “If Corrie’s collected writings, Let Me in 2012, and will be published in April Bukowski Was My Pop” was published 2013. A flash piece, “A Fair Exchange,” Stand Alone. Veteran actor Ed Asner in Yareah Magazine. picked up an Honorable Mention in 2013, narrated the family’s introduction and will be published in River Styx. to the audio book, which will be Elizabeth Coleman W Her chapter distributed by Blackstone Audio. The book Let My Eyes Be Open was project has been a labor of love and a Amanda Silva W had two flash published by Finishing Line Press in meaningful intersection of her writing nonfiction essays published online February. life and her narrating life. in the fourth issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and later included Stephanie Coyne DeGhett W Her Leah Kaminsky W Her short story novella Hazzard’s won the 2012 Press in the January publication of the anthology, The Best of Vine Leaves “Keep Smiling, Mary K” was posted in 53 Novella Award. Her “Last Train to r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal Budapest” was published in Southern Literary Journal 2012. Her nonfiction essay, “Charmed,” which she read Spring 2013 “FAITH & DOUBT” issue. Humanities Review (Winter 2013). at her VCFA graduate reading, will Curtis Loftis GD has been named Cordelia Jensen WCYA Her debut, be published in the Emrys Journal, Volume 30. She gave a reading of Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Skyscraping, a young adult verse novel “Charmed” in May at the release party Department at Chowan University in Melinda Thomsen W is a set in NYC in the early 1990s, tells the at Ford’s Oyster House and Cajun Murfreesboro, NC. Contributing Editor to Big City Lit. story of young girl who learns her father Kitchen, Greenville, SC. Her nonfiction Her book review of Philip Miller’s is gay and that he has been diagnosed essay “Tabloids” was featured online at Jeff Marley VA has been selected The Ghost of Every Day and with AIDS. The novel was signed to Liza for the 2013 Sequoyah National Other Poems, and her two poems, Kaplan at Philomel, by Sara Crowe at Research Center Art Fellowship, where “Reverence” and “Common Mergansers Harvey Klinger (world English). he will be able to conduct research and Tundra Swans” appeared in the at the center for one week as well as Fall 2012 issue. an invitation to contribute artwork Hunter Neal VA had a piece of photography, portraying solitude in the Anne Westrick WCYA Her debut outdoors, accepted in the first annual Biennale for The National Weather Center resulting from the research. novel, Brotherhood (Viking), is in conjunction with the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. the story of a 14-year-old boy who Mary Rickert W Her first novel struggles to protect a friend from a and creative thesis, titled Memory gang he’s joined (the KKK in 1867). Garden has been accepted for This novel became her Creative Thesis publication by Sourcebooks under their at VCFA and was polished in response Landmark imprint. to some serious tough love from Kathi Appelt. She is publishing under Ellen Sprague W has been the name A. B. Westrick, and will be accepted as a scholar at an NEH speaking on panels at the James institute called “The Certainty of River Writers Conference and the MidTranslation to the Humanities: New Atlantic SCBWI Conference in October. Interdisiplinary Scholarship,” where she will study translation with faculty including William Grass, Gregory Aja Zoecklein W Her debut poetry Rabassa, and Rainer Schulte. collection, Insoluble Forgetting, was released in June by Finishing Line Press.

class news 2014



class news

Heather Demetrios WCYA Her debut YA novel, Something Real, will be published by Henry Holt in Winter 2014, and her second YA book, A Geography of Us, also by Holt, has a tentative publication date of Winter 2015. Ann Huang W was at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in April on the USC Campus, where she signed copies of her book Love Rhythms as part of the Finishing Line Press event. Robin Kirk WCYA Her short story “The Quiet Company” that was workshopped with Louise Hawes and Mark Karlins has was selected for Tomorrow, a new anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction published by Kayelle Press. Joe McGee WCYA is pleased to announce that he is now represented by Linda Epstein of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary agency. Linda will be shopping several of his picture book manuscripts, as they were products of the picture book intensive semester he completed last July.

Sophfronia Scott W was interviewed for an article “Lit Mag Helps Newton Heal” in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers magazine. The essay, “Tain in the Rain,” started as a 5-minute piece she wrote at aVCFA residency last summer. Her essay “Living By the Light of a Smile” leads off the 20th Anniversary Edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul Reader’s Choice. Ibi Zoboi WCYA Her YA fantasy novel Bandit was a finalist for the Lee & Low/Tu Books New Visions Award for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel written by an author of color.

2015 Julie Zeidel MC had one of her jazz compositions performed by Zeitgeist at its Tuesday Salon in Saint Paul, MN. The series provides composers with a venue for their work to be performed in front of an audience, and an opportunity for open discussion and feedback afterward.

2015 Partridge Boswell W has won the 2013 Grolier Discovery Award for his book of poetry Some Far Country. The award was bestowed by the Grolier Foundation and Grolier Poetry Book Shop at Harvard Square. His first full-length collection, the book was launched with events in Woodstock, VT, in May, New England Review’s Vermont Reading Series in Middlebury in August, and The Burlington Book Festival in September.

Aimee Payne WCYA has a short story appearing in Zombies: Shambling Through History (Prime Books). Katherine Quimby WCYA won the PEN New England 2013 Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. This award recognizes her YA novel Three Minutes Thirty, the same work that received the Norma Fox Mazer scholarship in January 2013. In May she read from the book at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.

Poet Jean Valentine awarded VCFA’s first honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Jean Valentine, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1965 for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965, is the Distinguished Visiting Faculty in Poetry for 2013/2014 for the MFA in Writing. Her eleventh book of poetry is Break the Glass, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003 was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. Jean was the State Poet of New York for two years, starting in the spring of 2008. She received the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the NEA, The Bunting Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, The New York Council for the Arts, and The New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the Maurice English Prize, the Teasdale Poetry Prize, and The Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize in 2000. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.  

why i give to VCFA

VCFA helped facilitate a transformation in my art practice. The generosity of faculty, staff, and fellow students allowed me to gain confidence with the vulnerability and risks that accompany being an artist. These quiet revolutions continue within my studio practice today, which is why I support VCFA. Renee Couture, ’10 VA

3 x 2 x 3 x 2 36



our cue, your response

typeface: crooked room by Michelle Muhammad ’13 GD





2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x




3 x 3 x 2 x 2 x




2 x 3 x 2 x 3 Lucky 36 by Melissa Cronin ’13 W

At age 36, I finally told the man I lived with to leave, the man who screamed at me because I didn’t know how to cut an onion, who waved a butcher knife at me, who said, “If you don’t change …” We lived together for 6 years—a multiple of thirty-six. At age 36, I was hit by a car, and lived because a bystander came to my aid.

a poem by Brad Davis ’95 W

Kentucky Colonel by Ingrid Silverstein ’08 W Thirty-six fair birds squawk. Eleven herbs and spices finger-licking good.

At age 36, I met my future husband. We were married on the eighteenth day of the month and just celebrated our ninth anniversary— both multiples of 36. I’m not superstitious, but the number 36 is double eighteen. Chai in Judaism. life.

36 Primed & Squared

For each issue, alumni will be provided with a prompt to react to in writing, design, art, or any way they see fit. For our first issue, the prompt was “36,” inspired by the address for College Hall: 36 College St.

Tzadikim by Susan Levi Wallach ’11 W (excerpt) Thirty-six is the number of righteous people whose existence ensures that G-d will preserve the world. It’s like he said, Fuck the rest of you, all seven billion, give or take. Only these matter, these lamed-vaz tzadikim — one for each of the thirty-six shimmering hours that first fired up the universe with such luminosity that, had you been there, you’d have glimpsed everything from the beginning of time to its end.




:: the

Matthew Monk Academic Dean Excerpt of speech to the inaugural graduating class in Music Composition, August 2013

classic and the contemporary

FROM THE ARCHIVES Graduation, Alumni Hall, circa 1960

The Music Composition program has made me intensely aware of how music can reflect very specific places, times and cultures. What will the influence of this location and this moment and this culture be in music? As VCFA becomes increasingly important in the world of music composition, what will the music of this time and place be? It’s already here—the beginnings of it, anyway. Each of you in our inaugural graduating class, each additional student, plus each member of the faculty, brings important ingredients to the zesty mix. Last night graduating student Bill Stevens, in his powerful tribute to his classmate Matt Polashek, aptly compared the culture of this program to a crock-pot stew. I would like to borrow his idea, and extend it a little further. Years ago, I heard about a tavern in Europe, I don’t recall where, but probably somewhere in France, that has been in continuous operation since medieval times, with a perpetual stew on the fire since then. For several hundred years, the same pot has been on the fire, never fully depleted, always simply appended. I don’t know if this is truth or legend. When I first heard about it I thought, well, that’s disgusting. But then I realized it’s a remarkable way to live with history as a continuum, and to see the past as being present today. Right here in my bowl. When president Tom Greene and others at VCFA first conceived this program, their plan was, in essence, to provide a giant crock-pot. Into the VCFA pot your program placed its brilliant faculty, and its inaugural class of remarkable students. That became the basis of the stock that has generated the rich and savory offerings we sampled this week. The pot has been enriched by each new student who has since joined the program, and it will continue to grow and its flavors will continue to evolve. From the very full pot of this program, I now invite each of you graduates to ladle out a big bowlful to take with you as you leave, to fortify your pot at home, and to continue to supplement with your own ingredients. You leave here today knowing that the stock you take with you will forever flavor your pot, and that your contributions have indelibly seasoned the vast perpetual stew here at VCFA.”


36 College Street Montpelier, v t 05602

We stoke the passion that makes our programs such a vital, transformative experience. From the interplay of ideas and the gritty wrestling with self, art is born — and it starts right here at VCFA. With A great big thank you to everyone who your support, you stand supported the Fund with VCFA, its students, for VCFA. faculty and staff, and emphatically answer, “Yes! Art does matter.” “VCFA changed my life. I’ll be forever grateful!” Sarah Sullivan



in residence // 2013 VCFA Alumni Magazine  

The newly redesigned annual Alumni Magazine publication by Vermont College of Fine Arts #VCFAalumni

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