Greetings from the Chair

Bob 004Three college students walk into a bar: a business major, a chemistry major, and an English major. They order drinks and talk about what they will do when they graduate. “I’m going to start a company!” says the business major. “I’m going to get my Ph.D!” says the chemistry major. The English major, meanwhile, catches the eye of the bartender and asks “Hey, you guys have an application I could fill out?”

So goes the standard, tired joke reinforcing the popular prejudice that a degree in English these days is all but worthless when it comes to earning a decent living. Like most clichés, this one is patently false and quite easy to refute. You’ve probably heard of some of these folks: Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Gordon Sumner (aka, Sting), Conan O’Brien, Barbara Walters, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Michael Eisner, Hank Paulson, Harold Varmus, Bob Woodward, Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Alan Alda, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Mark Knopfler, Chris Isaak. All were English majors.

Though perhaps not as wildly successful as the people just mentioned, thousands of other English majors, many SMC grads among them, hold good and rewarding jobs in education, government, and the corporate sector. They’re in teaching, the media, information technology, telecommunications, management and administration, human resources, counseling, law, publishing, medicine, financial services, sales and marketing, professional writing, and a host of other fields.

English majors tend to do well in the so-called “real world” because they have acquired a skill set that will never go out of style: the ability to comprehend difficult texts and ideas, to think (self-) critically, to make far-flung cognitive connections, to speak and write clearly and effectively. English might seem like a counter-intuitive choice when so many professions now require highly specialized technical training but that’s a short-sighted view; the fundamental capabilities honed in literary studies have reliably proven to be an indispensable basis for all kinds of jobs.

Gainful employment is a vital concern, obviously, but the greatest rewards derived from literary studies are hard to justify to hard-headed pragmatists because they involve the cultivation of imagination and intellect as an end in itself.

For one of the best formulations on the benefits of said cultivation, I defer to David Foster Wallace’s near-legendary commencement address at Kenyon College in May, 2005. Therein, Wallace spoke about the natural “default setting” of every human being, i.e., “my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence.” Fortunately, Wallace’s talk did not then devolve into a predictable, sanctimonious lecture “about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues.” For Wallace, escaping the trap of self-centeredness was not a matter of virtue but “a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.” Wallace went on to observe that the liberal arts teach us how to think, which is “actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience” (emphasis added). Writer Russell Banks puts it in a slightly different way when he speaks about the crucial need to constantly refine what he calls “the quality of attention.”

By and large, American business civilization has always regarded the liberal arts with skepticism, indifference, or outright hostility, i.e., a boutique avocation for starry-eyed idealists. We English majors know differently; that mere affluence is empty without a fully commensurate inner life because an inner life is what makes us genuine human beings. So congrats to current majors, soon-to-be grads, and our many and faithful alums. You chose well. 

I hope you enjoy this new edition of the Newsletter.

Bob Niemi, Chair, Department of English

Alumni News

Edward Freely (’53) writes that he is enjoying retirement and helping his grandson navigate his senior year of High School, choosing a college, while he is busy playing football. He still get calls from his former employees asking for advice on different situations. He thinks they are trying to keep him young. Ed is currently reading Tom Wheeler’s Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower. He prefers books that have a basis in history.

Owen Murphy (’53) says he has no news to share at the moment except his prayerful best wishes for the success of the newsletter and to comment that the English Department has a revered bloodline!

Vaughn Keller (’62) writes that his collection of poetry, short stories, and essays, entitled Glimpses, is available on Amazon, as well as his novel, Behind the Neon. He is working on a second novel and hopes to get it out soon.

ButlerBob Butler (’64) writes that he is enjoying a partial retirement which enables him to teach a reduced load and devote much more time to research and writing. He continues to work on Richard Wright and has recently published articles on Black Power, A Father’s Law, and Rite of Passage. He delivered a paper at MLA this past January in Vancouver on Wright, James T. Farrell, and Theodore Dreiser. He has begun a new project on the contemporary novelist, Percival Everett. He continues to enjoy teaching, both at Canisius and at Wyoming Correctional Facility, where Canisius has a degree granting program. In 2010, Bob was inducted into the Saint Michael’s Academic Hall of Fame and celebrated for his many accomplishments in teaching and scholarship.

Sudol_6199%20aRonald Sudol (’65) is Professor Emeritus of Writing and Rhetoric at Oakland University, formerly a branch of Michigan State University located in the Detroit suburbs. He retired as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2013 and previously served as Associate Provost and Director of the Writing Program. He is currently living in Boston and serving on the Board of Directors of The Lyric Stage Company there, as well as acting as Consultant to the College Board, the Educational Testing Service, and the U.S. Department of Education, Ron is working on a book about public higher education.

Joe Barnes (’67) writes that having retired from his thirty-eight year career as a middle and high school principal, he is now a Program supervisor at Curry College in Milton, MA assisting aspiring principals who are working toward MA licensure. He finds it a very rewarding job. He is in his sixth year as part of a men’s book club, in which they read excellent fiction and non fiction, most recently Bill Bryson’s One Summer, America 1927. The group always has great discussions.

Geoff Grant (’68) writes that he is mainly retired, but still doing some consulting in research management, a bit of a far cry from English and Literature. He has worked in research management, that is the management of research grants and contracts, at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the White House Science Policy Office, as well as Stanford University and Partners HealthCare in Boston. He reports that his English major and liberal arts background have always stood him in good stead in terms of analytical skills and the enjoyment of different history and cultures. The major certainly contributed to his professional writing even though that had to be a lot more bureaucratic. He says: “now, I am primarily enjoying my photography avocation, but I do enjoy writing an occasional travel blog when I am on photo trips.  See my website, which is being revised. I hope it comes close to the standards of a former St Mike’s English major. If not, I’ll come back for a summer refresher!”

John McGorry (‘68) writes that he is still a reader years after the school teaching he did at the beginning of his career and says the best novel he’s read in quite a while was Transatlantic by Colum McCann, which led him to McCann’s earlier novel, Let The Great World Spin, which he says might have been even more impressive. He also thoroughly enjoyed The Round House by Louise Erdrich. He says he is pretty much a fiction reader since current reality is not much fun to read about.

Tom Kelley (’69) writes that the tutoring he began in his senior year at SMC led to teaching and then to Boston College Law School. As trial lawyer, he used many reading/writing skills engendered in his SMC years, and did lots of “lawyer teaching” in seminar situations. He is now out of active practice, but sitting as private judge, mediating and arbitrating claims and law suits – writing opinions on litigated cases. Tom stayed in touch with SMC for more than twenty years by skiing with the teams, until knee surgery last year.

180px-Richard_Marquise1Richard Marquise (’69) writes that he has used his English degree throughout his career(s). He got started writing as the sports editor of the Michaelman and has been writing ever since, first as an Insurance Investigator and then as an FBI agent. He retired after more than thirty-one years as the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Oklahoma. During his career he wrote policy, letters to Congress and numerous editorials, and he attributes much of his writing ability to a solid high school education plus his four years at SMC–I did attend part time for another year in an attempt to get a MA in English but went into the FBI before I could finish. After finishing his time with the FBI (2002), he wrote a book about the one of the major investigations on which he worked: the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988: Scotbom: Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation (2006). He is currently the Director of the State and Local Antiterrorism Training (SLATT) program which is sponsored by the US Department of Justice and provides training to police officers to allow them to understand the terrorist threat to our country and help prevent acts of terror here. He writes at least one article per month for SLATT and has had a number of others published in terrorist trade magazines on the topic of terrorism. I have also written curricula for the Department of State and taught for them abroad in many countries experiencing terrorism problems including Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines and others. He says that his experiences at SMC helped prepare him for what he has been asked to do in all stages of his life since graduation.

Dan Downing (’70) writes, “After a couple of years writing for magazines, mostly about dance, I hung up my Word Processor in the early 90s. Since then I have mostly contented myself with crank letters to the local newspapers and screeds on Facebook. Having retired two years ago, I thought I’d step up my reading, but I continue somehow to be limited to 100-110 books per year. My shelves are bursting. The appearance of two grandchildren during that two year span certainly accounts for some of the missing book time. As for what I read, I need to thank fellow alums Michael Bartley (for pointing me toward Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy) and David Keough for his recommendation and intervention with Herny Gole to cop me a signed copy of Exposing the Third ReichAlso, our class psychopath, Jim “Spartacus” Fallon, not only produced his “Psychopath Inside”, but put me onto the work of Dean Radin, among others. If anyone is so bored with life as to be interested in the rest of my reading, my Facebook page (, under Notes, has lists from at least the past two years. I continue to eschew anything to do with PMLA, along with the poorly written in general. I did resurrect tapes of our jug band (recorded at The Third Thumb), which I had professionally transferred to CDs, along with material by “Tony and Betty.” The Drop Box access to that has expired, but if anyone is interested, drop me a note and I’ll cut and send a CD.  That project got me in touch with Dan Vecchitto and Kevin Kennedy, which was a great pleasure. Both are doing well, as is Fr. Paul Farin, whom I have been fortunate enough to visit with in his Florida home. Mark Bluemling checks on me now and then to make sure I keep to the wild side. He and I and Bartley raised hell together a couple of years ago in Ocean City, N.J. Over two days we must have gone through at least a six pack of beer and two pizzas.

Richard Lynch (’70) writes that he retired four years ago after teaching English for 34 years at colleges in Illinois and Pennsylvania. He taught mostly writing and 19th and 20th century British Literature as well as courses on fairy tales and Russian Literature. In his last year Richard was part of a Ulysses reading group, an opportunity he hopes Saint Michael’s students also have. He reports that he is catching up on reading and writing projects now he is retired and attempting to learn Irish, which he says is quite difficult!

imagesRichard Hatin (’71) is an award winning author with three novels in circulation; his first two are Evil Agreement and Deadly Whispers; his third novel, Miracle at Janet’s Mountain was published this past November. His author website is Richard and his wife Anne Marie are both retired. They serve on the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition and volunteer with the Granite State Ambassadors. They also volunteer as ushers for the Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH. Richard has just finished a coffee-table book marking the centennial of the Palace Theatre. Finally, he volunteers with his community youth soccer program where he serves as the Director of Coaching Development.

untitledEdward R. Flanagan (’73) writes that he got an MBA from NYU’s Stern School and is married with three grown sons. He and his wife live in Boxford, MA. Since 1995, Edward has been President & CEO of Jasper Wyman & Son, the foremost wild blueberry grower/processor/marketer with farming and processing operations in Maine, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. He says that as an at-risk stakeholder he is particularly involved now in pollinator health issues. He reports that his thinking is generally a bit right of center across most social and political issues. As for reading, he enjoyed Antonia Fraser’s biography of Cromwell, having wanted to understand what made him so homicidal toward the Irish. He also loved Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis and The Son, by Philipp Meyer, but hated Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (though his wife loved it).

David D. Scannell (’73) writes that he is in his 41st  year of public secondary teaching, the first 36 as a (mostly) high school English teacher, the last six as a high school library media specialist. Most of his career has been at Berlin High School in Connecticut. David says that he is grateful to St. Michael’s for the breadth and depth of content contained in the then program of studies, and he hopes not much has changed with that; it has been an important anchor for his teaching. He adds that the quality of the students from his school that go on to St. Michael’s is routinely high, which he says certainly reflects the quality of the education offered.

Bob Turcot (’73) writes that on the professional front he is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker having completed his Master’s degree from Adelphi University in 1983. He is currently working at Fletcher Allen Health Care as a counselor in the Employee and Family Assistance Program, and recently completed all of the requirements and the examination for my license as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well. On the literature front, he is reading the poetry of his niece Betsy Turcot, also an English major at SMC.

Gina Haddock (’74) writes that her regular work is in development at the Flynn Center but that she has been covering the local business news for our Richmond, VT paper called The Times Ink as her community involvement. Her husband, Bill and she co-author The Business Beat, which she says is a lot of fun.

Kim Brian Lovejoy (’74) is associate Professor of English at Indiana University of Liberal Arts, where he teaches courses in the writing and literacy concentrations at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and directs the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing and the Graduate Writing and Literacy Program. His research focuses on linguistic and cultural diversity and the pedagogies and practices that help teachers rethink their teaching in light of new theories of language as well as new voices emerging in a rapidly changing demographic. His coauthored book, Other People’s English: Code-Meshing, Code-Shifting, and African American Literacy (Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 2014), is an enactment of her teaching philosophy in a multilingual, multicultural nation where “standard” language ideology often fails to recognize the voices of marginalized students and thus their ability to achieve the intellectual aims of a university education. He is also editor of the Journal of Teaching Writing.

Lorayne Mundy (’74) writes that after 25 years of working Foreign Military Sales for the U.S. Navy, she began a new career teaching English literature. She says, “students in my current classes have never read a “book,” prefer the movie version of “Beowulf,” have never heard of Milton, and don’t really see the value of classical literature as it pertains to landing a job. But SMC taught me how to tackle a challenge. I call it my “Literary Conversion Class,” and though there are no angelic hosts or Greek choruses singing, I am enjoying the dawning of the light as the semesters progress. How I wish I could give my students a glimpse of the love for teaching and learning that existed on the SMC campus. Even my sons keep saying, ‘Mom, this isn’t St. Mike’s!’ So keep up the good work, and spread the word.”

Kate “Tink” Messner (’79) reports that she has gotten increasingly involved in local politics, first when she agreed to canvass door to door to support her son when he was Field Director for Hudson New Hampshire for Jeanne Shaheen’s U.S. Senate run in 2008. She found the work so intriguing that she has made two runs for State Senate herself. She writes: “Going house to house you can’t help but take home the fact that some people are much more affluent while others are destitute. And happiness isn’t necessarily the domain of either lifestyle. There were pleasant, intelligent people in both circumstances. There were also nasty ones. I came to realize first hand that democracy is a job for all of us, not just those remote politicians. “We, the People” own it, or not at our choosing. With her new commitment to politics, Tink hopes to make a difference in the state where she has lived for three decades and raised four wonderful children.

Mark Madigan (’83) is a Professor of English at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. He writes “I am grateful for the education, inspiration, and guidance I received from my professors at St. Michael’s, especially Marie Henault and John Reiss.”

David Simko (’83) writes that he is a Principal Information Developer for ACI Worldwide, Inc., a leader in electronic payments software. He says he uses his English degree every day, and has for as long as he has been a technical writer, almost 30 years. He says: “the technical writing profession has changed completely from being solely a content provider to being an advocate for the consumer of the content and shaping the user experience through various forms of user assistance and user interface. From the tools we use to the approach we take and the mindset required to produce and deliver content, it’s all very exciting and a far cry from when I started and shared a typewriter.” He has been married for 26 years to classmate Linda Bruno. Five children (2 girls, 3 boys), the oldest transferred to SMC this year for her Junior year and is living in the 300 townhouses, two doors from where he lived in ’82-’83. He noticed the furniture is the same, and  looks forward to visiting campus regularly over the next two years. He adds that he has been enjoying audio books during his commute, including, recently Roots, The Boys in the Boat, Unbroken, and Killing Jesus. Next is [Oscar Wilde’s] The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Kathy (McNabb) Hatch (‘85) has lived in Hong Kong, Korea, and London teaching and tutoring English language and literature to students of all ages from middle school to graduate students.  Before moving abroad, she earned her Master’s degree in English Lit. from Western Conn. State and taught English in American high schools.  More recently, since returning to the States, she has started an on-line college counseling business which coaches students on their college essays. She also recently returned to the Burlington, Vermont area (with my husband, Michael Hatch, class of ’84, and two teenage children) and is continuing her on-line business in addition to teaching an English Composition course at CCV. She says it’s great to be back in Vermont.

mary-portraits0009Mary Ryan (’85), whose career has taken several twists and turns since her time at SMC, ultimately pursued a career in nutrition, getting her Master of Science in Foods & Nutrition in 2001 and becoming a Registered Dietitian. Her work continues to include a combination of writing, teaching and counseling. She wrote a nutrition field guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) published by Stackpole Books in 2008. Since then she has continued to generate educational handouts regularly and has a blog for her business, “Beyond Broccoli Nutrition Counseling & Education” where she writes throughout the year. As for her reading, she says it’s an eclectic mix “with way more non-fiction than I ever anticipated making the mainstay of my literary diet! Currently I’m reading The Third Plate by Dan Barber, The End of Overeating by David Kessler, and Living with your Body and Other Things You Hate by Emily Sandoz and Troy DuFrene. I also keep a subscription to The Sun [literary] Magazine just to make sure I don’t go full nutrition geek!”

leblanc-150x150Diane LeBlanc (’86) is an associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and director of college writing at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. In 2014, she published a new collection of poems, Sudden Geography   (Finishing Line Press). She also contributed an essay, “Work in Progress,” to Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts (Oxford University Press, 2014). The essay includes fond memories of Professors Giff Hart and John Engels as she recalls why she became an English major and an English professor.

Maria Gallo (’87) is enjoying her private law practice; she handles contested custody cases and criminal cases. She coordinated and led a Girl Scout Program on Women in the Law in which the girls got to watch real trials and is developing a whole series of GS programs about women in “traditionally male” careers. She is also a “bad dog” hearing officer and has held several trials, one of which involved a seeing eye dog and issues of new law regarding bad dogs and the ADA. In addition to work, Maria reports that she is kept busy by her two kids, a husband and their recent trip to Ireland.

Mary Fitzgerald (’88) got an M.Ed. from the Vermont Mathematics Initiative at UVM in 2003 Currently she is a K-8 math specialist at BFA in Fairfax where she has spent the last 26 years. She has come back to SMC recently for her 4th course focusing on school leadership as she pursues certification as either a principal or curriculum coordinator. Mary has raised two children, traveled to each of the 50 states, hiked to the highest points of 20 (?) of them, run a 10K on the Great Wall of China, and visited some of the smallest European countries. When she is not working or traveling, she lives in the Champlain Islands.

Larry DiBernardo (’90) writes that he teaches English at North Haven High School in CT. and has been teaching there for 20 years.

Shannon (Rowe) Gardner (’90) writes that both her English and Political Science majors have been critical to her career. After graduating, Shannon worked as an editor and manager for a medical company, and then happily taught English for fourteen years.  After two more degrees, she now works in the curriculum department for my district as well as teaching ESL at the community college at night. She works with teams of teachers to develop curriculum in both Political Science and English, proving, as she says, Robert Frost’s sentiment that sometimes “way leads on to way.” Shannon has discovered how useful an English degree is, and hopes current students won’t worry or doubt their choice. She says, “English majors are very important in almost any office environment…they will have to get used to people saying, ‘Would you mind taking a look at this for me before I send it out?’ Most fields today require people with strong writing skills, and English majors should not be surprised at how highly they are valued.” Shannon remembers the vibrant intellectual atmosphere of St. Michael’s–calling it a place of deep faith and deep learning. She is happy to hear from her daughter, Lily, SMC class of ‘18 “that the flame is still burning at St. Michael’s.” To her fellow alums, she says “Vermont is still beautiful, the campus looks gorgeous, and Burlington is still fun!”

01eea55John Regan (’90) has been in Seattle since 1992 and currently works as a content writer for T-Mobile based in Bellevue, WA. He is also studying screenwriting and completed a Master Of Professional Writing degree from Chatham University in 2011. He supplied two links to his writing:; In terms of reading, he loves the work of  J. Robert Lennon and was lucky to see Dennis Lehane read in Seattle and to meet him afterwards.

CJS-headshot1-200-300C.J. Spirito (’90) writes that he is in his fourth year as the Head of School at Rock Point, a Burlington school that has been educating adolescents in enriching and transformative ways for 86 years. He says: “reading has been mostly education articles and current news for work, sports stories, mysteries, and poetry for pleasure. I’ve been on a Billy Collins and Mary Oliver run lately, but I bumped into some of David Huddle’s poems at just the right times in different anthologies. Just read a playful book called The Sherlockian and am sharing it with my elder son, Miles, who has been a Sherlock hound recently.”

Maureen (Mo) Hanna (’92) is proud to report that after a decade of ski bumming, she has put her degree to use. She has been teaching middle school language arts for the past decade in and around Telluride, Colorado. In addition to her English degree from St. Michael’s, she has  also received her teaching certification from Regis University in Denver and  her Master’s in English for Speakers of Other Languages from Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO. She says “If you ever find yourself in southwestern Colorado, stop by Telluride. You won’t be disappointed!”

untitledChris Whittaker (’92) says he misses many things about St. Mike’s especially when the leaves start changing color. He has been on the west coast since graduation in locations where they don’t celebrate four seasons. He married an English major from San Diego State, and they currently reside in San Elijo Hills and have two children. He works at Solutions Real Estate. He says, “We are minutes from the beach which compared to my 18 years in Las Vegas is like paradise every day. My son is 7 and daughter is 3 and we love our life here in California and wouldn’t change it for the world. I encourage reading in my home and enjoy reading to my kids, and when I’m not doing that I read lots of business books, mostly about productivity, mindset, being a leader, learning from history, etc. I’ve also recently read some spiritual books from Wayne Dyer and love the mindfulness. I’m looking forward to more travel, beach memories, family time, success and joy in the decades to come.

Charles “Chuck” Conroy (’93) practices immigration law in New York City. He has his own practice representing immigrants facing deportation and those trying to get legal status. If anyone wants to get in touch with him, they can do so through his website at

Shannon M. Parker (‘93) writes that her debut Young Adult novel will be released from Simon Pulse (a division of Simon & Schuster) in 2016. She says that she credits 97.34% of her writing success to the Incomparable Goddess of Literary Craft, Professor Lorrie Smith. After leaving SMC, Shannon went on to earn degrees at University of Massachusetts at Boston and University of Southern Maine. She devotes her professional self to advocating for adult and family literacy. Her personal career is absorbed by the wrangling of terrifying little beasties.

vince-lavecchiaVince LaVecchia (’95) writes that he has recently read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, World Order by Henry Kissinger, and Failure is not an Option by Gene Kranz. He has been thinking about: How do I explain the tough parts of life to my 3 year old? What’s going on with the weather around here? What’s going on with things in Space? When can I retire and become a teacher? What he has been doing can be summed up: Running Instrument, a digital creative agency in Portland, Oregon, raising Owen: an energetic 2.5 yr old, who is smarter than me; tending an orchard while waiting for the rains to begin; odering a large wood pile to get through Winter in Oregon.

pro-picJenn Marlow (’97) is Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of First year Writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y. She reports having recently had a documentary film (Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor) about adjunct labor and writing instruction that she co-produced and directed with a colleague published by an online academic press. It’s open access, so anyone can watch it, and it can be found at:

Mark Chapman (’99) writes that he lives in East Bridgewater, MA with his wife and three young children, Jack, Ben, and Nora. He has been a funeral director for the past fifteen years, and his writing has mostly been obituaries. He is an avid reader of the news, but also recently enjoyed Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

Lisa picLisa Chesnel (’99) is currently a writer/editor at the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General in Washington, DC, where she reads audit and investigation reports for a living. She started working at Peace Corps headquarters in 2010 after her husband Matt Sheehey (’98) and I returned from serving in the Peace Corps in Panama from 2007-09. They have two sons, Peter and Patrick. Matt is the press secretary for his hometown (Kinderhook, NY) Congressman Chris Gibson, who represents New York’s 19th District. Lisa is reading The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth by Lillian Nayder in the little spare time she has.

Shane Rocheleau (’99) is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Photography at both Virginia Commonwealth University and Old Dominion University. He is an artist, who uses photography  primarily though not exclusively. He is working on two books/exhibitions of photography, one collaborative, and presently has work in an exhibition in Munich, Germany: (second image on home page). His website is: Last summer he finished The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer, one of the best pieces of literature he’s ever had the pleasure of reading!

Kate Mullin (‘00) writes that she is teaching at Saratoga Springs High School in New York and that she has two boys, ages 2 and 6

Gretchen (Coyle) Donohue (‘00) writes that she is in her 13th year teaching English at Dover-Sherborn High School in Dover, MA. She received her Masters from UMASS Boston in 2011, and wrote her thesis on the connections between Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and E.M. Forster’s Maurice.

Nicole Colantoni (’01) recently published two books. She published a poetry memoir entitled, Maine Days and a children’s book called The Friendly Chickadees last summer.

Zach Hamilton (‘01) teaches English internationally and has taught in Colombia, Turkey, and currently in Chile. He says he is trying to read Dracula in Spanish but it is slow going.

Brandon Benevento (’02) is living with his wife, Amy, an interior designer, in Branford CT, and working on a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Connecticut.

Jess Freire (’02) is thrilled to report that she is back in Burlington after spending the last seven years in Wyoming. She is the State Training Coordinator for Vermont Emergency Medical Services and volunteering every other Saturday as a paramedic with St. Michael’s Fire & Rescue. 

angelapAngela Potts (’02) writes that she had the great honor of serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi with the Master’s International program, getting her MA in TESOL from American University. She spent three years as an English Language Fellow with the U.S. State Department, two years in Indonesia and a year in Zambia. Now she is the Program Coordinator and Instructor at a private language institute at the University of Rhode Island, getting her yoga teacher training certificate on the side. Angela is currently setting her next trajectory to offer yoga, meditation and other forms of healing at a beautiful resort in Malawi, or wherever else she feels called (SMC English Alums will have a sizable discount!!!). Angela has continued to pursue singing and included two links: (2012); (2009)

Rebecca Shields Tay (’02) writes that she taught middle and high school English for five years in Arizona and Californa before leaving the field to parent her children. She and her family have moved all over the country because of her husband’s job as a Naval officer in the Civil Engineer Corps. They are now living in Maine for two years. The couple has three young children. Rebecca says there have been many challenges over the past years, especially when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan when they had just moved to Mississippi, far from family and friends and their newborn needed surgery. She says that surviving that year was one of the great accomplishments of her life. Yoga, books, hobbies, advice from older parents, and introspection have helped her, as she says, “find an imperfectly perfect place.” Recently, Rebecca has learned to throw pots as well as taking up painting again, and catch up with her New Yorker reading. She recommends a great source for novels written by women about conflict:

KissellRilda (Letourneau) Kissel (’03) writes that she received her Masters in Higher Education Administration from Boston University in 2007 and currently works at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a program administrator. Her work includes advising and student support. She lives north of Boston with her husband, whom she met while volunteering with the Edmundite Volunteer Corp after graduation from SMC. They have a two year old son Jonah and are expecting a daughter this spring. Rilda recently completed her first half marathon. 

Kate Browne (’04) writes that after SMC, she worked for JetBlue Airways in Airport Operations at both Burlington Airport and JFK until she moved to the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii last year and got involved with Team Rubicon, a non-profit that unites veterans and first responders to provide disaster relief. In this work, Kate says, she has found her calling. She will begin an MA in International Disaster Management at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England in September of 2015. This year she is traveling and volunteering and working in disaster relief.

Christian Camerota (’04) says “he would be reading [William Gaddis’] The Recognitions but for two reasons: he doesn’t have Will, Nat, Carey, or Christina to guide him through, and burritos are so much more inviting and accessible. He recently wrapped up a stint in the marketing department at SMC and headed Boston-ward for a writing gig at HBS and can’t wait to see what acronymic employment awaits him next. He also now wonders how his classmates and professors ever put up with him in college, but he’s sure glad they did.

Amanda Courchene (’04) writes that she is teaching English at Pembroke High School on the South Shore of MA. She lives in Marshfield with her husband Brent, also an SMC alum and their two young children, Eamon and Sloane. Mandy recently received a Masters of Arts in Teaching, and has been teaching full-time for eleven years. In addition to her usual survey courses she is teaching a British Literature/Adventures Literature senior class and freshman honors survey. Recent books she has enjoyed are Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Mandy says she sees many classmates and their families regularly and they all agree that the years they spent in Colchester were the best.

Erin Collins Bodin (’06) and Ethan Bodin (’06) are happy to report they have a son Eamon Collins Bodin. Erin completed her MFA in July at the Stonecoast in Creative Writing program and enjoyed every moment of it. Her poetry and prose has been published in the Black Earth Institute’s About Place JournalMagnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature; and, most recently, Kindred Magazine. She was awarded finalist for creative non-fiction in the 2013 Tiferet Journal writing contest for her essay “Waking Up in the City of Joy.The essay is a composite of her three years traveling to Kolkata through the SMC MOVE office.

Adena_Select_5651a-1Adena Harford Bright (’06) reports that she has been married for two years to Berkley College of Music alumnus, Jamie Bright. He has just released an album Nectar’s Adena works on holistic health and women’s wellness. Her blog can be found through her business website,  She is also a panchakarma therapist at The Ayurvedic Center:

Meagan Hildebrand (’06) reports that she is still teaching 9th and 10th grade English at Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield MA. She started there right from SMC and hasn’t left. She coaches Field Hockey at Merrimack College, married Kyle Hildebrand (also SMC alum ’06) in 2010 and had a baby girl, Quinn, in July of 2012. She recently finished her Master’s in English at Salem State University.

Courtney (Condo) Wason (’06) is happy to report that her husband Pete and she welcomed their first baby, Julia, last June. Courtney is a children’s librarian at the public library in Derry, NH and has the privilege of encouraging a lifelong love of reading in kids. She is always recommending her own favorites (L.M. Montgomery or E.L. Konigsburg), but that everyone’s always looking for the latest in the Warriors series. She says there is actually a lot to love about current children’s literature (Kate DiCamillo, David Almond and Neil of her favorite crossovers). Her current project at the library is a book review website, part of a readers’ advisory initiative. Everyone on the children’s staff contributes to it, and it’s becoming a great resource! It can be found here: Courtney reports that her job has helped her cultivate a love of picture books. Kevin Henkes, Cynthia Rylant, and Mo Willems are among her favorites. And she can never ever get enough of Susan Jeffers’ illustrations. She says, “I’m lucky because I love what I do and I get to share it with great enthusiasm every day. It took me many different roads to get here (David’s Bridal wedding dress sales, Hickory Farms representative, adjunct writing instructor at community college…to name a few!), but it’s all worked out. Once the baby is a little older I’d like to go back for a second master’s, this time in Library Science. Then I can work full-time at a job I truly love.” She ends by sending her regards and saying “I’m not sure you all realize what a major impact you had on me as a reader, a student, and a person. I can’t thank you enough.”

Molly (Amelia) Cole (’08) writes that she is currently working at Northeastern University in University Advancement as an Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships. While working full-time, she is also enrolled in Northeastern’s Masters of Science – Global Studies and International Affairs program, which has a focus on International Higher Education. She lives in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Victoria_Rose_TownsendVictoria Rose Townsend (‘08) writes that she is currently working as the Artistic/ Management Associate for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in Boston, MA, work which provides a really wonderful intersection of the skills she obtained as both an English and Theatre double-major at SMC. She reports that she is engaged to another SMC graduate, Kevin Parise (’09); they will be married in September 2015 with many SMC alumni on the guest list. Victoria and two other ’08 English majors, Alysha Foley and Kristin Jarvis, have an ongoing book club and were about to meet over Skype to discuss E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View.

Abby Boucher (’09) writes that she is in her final year of a PhD in Victorian Literature at the University of Glasgow. She recently published an article in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Issue 9.2 (Summer 2013). In August 2014 she hosted an international, interdisciplinary conference entitled Anxious Forms: Bodies in Crisis in Victorian Literature and Culture, and is in the process of turning papers given at that conference into an edited collection. For the second year running, she is teaching Poetry and Poetics to first-year undergraduates. She is also a Hunterian Associate, working in collaboration with the Hunterian Museum and the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections department on a projection involving their extensive collection of rare Silver Fork, or “Fashionable” novels of the 1820s-1840s.

Kara Garvey (’09) writes that she is living in New York City and working on Fifth Avenue as Cartier’s Archival Intern, a job that involves an interesting mix of art, commerce, historical figures, and even photography through the lens of luxury design over the past 150 years.

LucyBefore getting married to fellow ’09 alumnus, Danielle Palardy, John Lucy published two books in 2013 and 2014: 27 Million Revolutions for 27 Million Slaves, a story of a bicycle trip he took across the country to raise awareness about human trafficking as well as what ordinary citizens can do to combat it, and Created Human Divinity: A Theology of Empowerment Developed Through Dialogue, a theological treatise with a self-explanatory title. Both are available on Amazon and all e-book formats. Currently, he is working on a collection of short, humorous short stories about his seminary experience, having graduated with a Master of Theological Studies in 2012, and also a layperson’s commentary to the Bible. He is now a United Methodist pastor in Swanton VT, preaching, as he says, world-class sermons every Sunday. He says he is clearly putting his English degree to good use with his religious interests and vocation.  In addition, he has become obsessed with David Mitchell’s writing.

061027eAbby Stewart (’09) writes that she has just finished her Master’s degree from the University of Virginia in Architectural History and Historic Preservation and is currently working for the Preservation Society of Newport County, working as a guide in the Newport mansions and as the Assistant Museum Affairs Coordinator.

Billy Collins (’10) writes that he is living in Somerville, MA writing and playing music. He has recently self-released a self-produced album, entitled Soap. It is available both to listen to and download at

Emily Stenberg (’10) is in her fifth year of teaching English, directing Student Activities, and living in a dorm as a houseparent at Portsmouth Abbey School. She has completed three summers of Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English towards her MA, the most recent of which was at Lincoln College, Oxford–by far, the best of the three campuses in Vermont, New Mexico, and England. She says: “nothing quite compares to reading Ruskin and Pater in the Bodleian where they must have logged countless hours themselves. Oh, and weekends in Paris, Amsterdam, and Istanbul were ok, too.”

meghan-sweezeyMeghan Sweezey (’10) writes that she is working at Saint Michael’s for the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations. In this position, she travels to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and Albany/Saratoga, New York, planning alumni events and meeting with alumni one-on-one. She also helps coordinate alumni events for the Athletics Department and run Alumni Appreciation Week, a program geared towards educating students on the importance of philanthropy and alumni involvement post-graduation. She was also recently hired as the top assistant coach for SMC women’s ice hockey. She says that as an alumna of the program she is very excited to work with current players, helping them improve both on and off the ice. Her job responsibilities keep her busy, but she continues to read and write as much as possible in her spare time.

Nick Vogt (’10) writes that since graduating from SMC he has worked as a therapeutic Wilderness  guide, taking students from around the world through the mountains and as a one-on-one teacher at a private alternative school. He spent the fall doing independent English tutoring and vacationing in Italy and is returning there this spring. He says that his thoughts on his English degree and what it has allowed him to do can be summed up by his favorite quote from Oscar Wilde: “To define is to limit.”

019df51Greg White (’10) writes that he has worked at the New School of Montpelier, a school for kids and young adults with special needs, for the past year and a half. He says: “I work with two young men with autism as an aide. It is a mostly rewarding job-at times stressful and physical, but I have developed very strong relationships with these two individuals. One thing in particular that I like about it is the challenge of communication: I have spent my entire life trying to master and manipulate all aspects of the English language, and in this job I have had to learn a significantly nonverbal way of interacting.” Greg lives in Montpelier with his girlfriend. In his free time he hikes, camps, reads and writes. As a volunteer, he will be conducting research for the Wildlands Network, compiling and synthesizing current conservation management plans throughout Vermont. Wildlands is committed to protecting wildlife corridors in the U.S., and the “Eastern Wildway” is a projected path of uninterrupted habitat from Florida to Canada. He would eventually like to return to the conservation field full time. He is reading Cormac McCarthy, Russell Banks, and Edward Abbey.

Phoebe Green (’11) writes that she is living in Morrisville, Vermont and teaching both in an afterschool program and in a homeschooling cooperative begun last year with friends from her church. She has taught fifth grade language arts and math and also second grade. She loves working with such a close-knit group and being able to teach all her subjects from within the Christian tradition.

GriffinBridget Griffin (’11) is in her third year of  living in Seattle, and in her my second and final year of graduate school at the University of Washington in Medical Speech and Language Pathology. She has recently completed an internship at Swedish Medical Center (a local hospital) in their Neuro and Cardiac ICUs under a licensed SLP. She lives with her boyfriend Nick who is from Seattle and works as a drum instructor for UW and plays music in his spare time. Bridget ran her second half marathon and is taking all of the time she can to travel around the Northwest. She says she is at a really happy point in her life.

Samantha Holmberg (’11) is enrolled in the Champlain College Teacher Apprenticeship Program (TAP) training to be an English teacher. She is also continuing her work as a Production Editor at Dartmouth Journal Services, and has begun tutoring in French, which she finds fun and refreshing.

Olivia Belofsky (’12) teaches 6th and 7th grade English Language Arts at an all-girls, tuition free middle school in Dorchester. Mother Caroline Academy provides rigorous academics, extended day programs, and high school application support systems for young women of underserved families in the Boston Area. Some books students will be studying this year are The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, and Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher.

Alex Orlando (’12) reports that he is living in Houston Texas. After a year in South Korea, he spent some time back home working for Hartford Hospital’s Planning and Marketing Department as a freelance writer—having interned for them throughout college—but decided to make the move when his girlfriend, whom he met in Korea, was hired as a faculty member teaching ESL at North American University in Houston. Alex works for the news department of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world with a sprawling campus that contains 54 healthcare related institutions. He was hired as a staff writer on a new magazine, TMC Pulse. The job has been a blast so far; he gets to listen to stories from amazing people, have a lot of creative freedom, and cover topics that range from the technical/medical side of the spectrum to more human interest stories. He recently finished an article on the use of 3D printers to design blood vessel architecture, eventually with the goal of printing customizable organs for transplant use. For those interested, here are some of his favorite stories:

Anthony Bassignani (’13) is currently pursuing my MLIS from Syracuse University through their online program. During the day he works at Staples in the Copy & Print Center, as well as weekends at Saint Mike’s in the library. He has loved being in Burlington for the past year, and staying connected with SMC. He has been reading in spurts over the past few months, with one of the most enjoyable books being Red Rising ​by Pierce Brown. It’s a blend of Hunger Games and Ender’s Game. 

StevensErin Stevens (’13) reports that she is currently teaching high school English at Hartford High School in Hartford, Vermont. In addition to two English seminar courses for 9th graders on the skills needed to be successful in all facets of their education, she is also teaching a World Literature course for 10th and 11th graders and an American Literature course for upperclassmen. On top of the teaching, Erin coaches boys’ and girls’ ice hockey, girls’ softball, and is the class advisor for the class of 2017 student council committee. Though very busy, Erin says she is happy to be on the career path she has always wanted.

Sarah Fraser (‘14) says she misses Saint Michael’s (especially the English Department) but loves her job as a Customer Liaison at the Technology Help Desk at Southern New Hampshire University. She enjoys spending her days helping people and being independent. In the fall, she was reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and planning to read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Chakras.

Nick Lemon (’14) is working full-time at UVM’s Bailey/Howe Library in the Circulation Department, loving every minute of it. He’s living with his partner, Sarah, also a new SMC alum, in Burlington. He hasn’t been reading much as he’s working on learning Old English, with the help of Kerry Shea and German. Over the break, he was planning to re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He says that maybe he’ll write something someday but, in the mean time, he can be seen driving a large white van with “UVM Library” on the side in green.

CWoodwardCatherine Woodard (’14) writes that she is working as an assistant editor at SkyLight Paths/Jewish Lights/GemStone Press in Woodstock, VT. She is spending her days going over books, eBooks, checking sources … and sometimes it doesn’t feel as if she has graduated!



Alumni Profiles

IMG_0205Charles Conroy (’93), Immigration lawyer, New York City

Why did you decide to become an English major, and how did it work to double major with History?

At first I was a History major, then I picked up English. My first year I was inspired by an American Lit survey course with Bob Niemi. We covered Emily Dickinson and I was just blown away by her short form and how intense it was. It actually inspired me to start writing poetry for the first time in my life, and I’ve done that on and off. My history classes also gave me a feel for English Lit. During my first year, I took American History with Norb Kuntz, and he had as reading My Antonia by Willa Cather and Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, so it all tied in together. I then decided to double major.  A historian once said, “History tells you a bridge was built but it doesn’t tell you about the pain in the men’s backs who built it.” (I’m paraphrasing a little). Great literature tells you about the pain, it fills us with a greater understanding of what’s happening.

What are some memorable classes and teachers from your time at Saint Michael’s? 

There are three that stand out more than others.  One was a course I took with George Dameron on Italy between the years 1200 and 1400, where we delved into politics, art, literature, architecture, social norms and everything else during that period. There was also a course I took with Bob Niemi called American Realism, where we read Jack London, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, and Frank Norris. I think it spoke to me because of my working-class immigrant background. Even after college I continued to read such books, like Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Norris’ The Octopus. The third one that stands out is “Milton” with Nick Clary.  Two thirds of the course was devoted to “Paradise Lost,” and the whole approach was vert interactive with students. We really delved into the text and came up with all kinds of ideas. It was very exciting and stimulating.

How did the English major shape you as a person?

I think it definitely opened doors for me on in terms of exploring existence through literature, and it made me a poet. My first poem I wrote was while reading Emily Dickinson.  I remember it well – it was a critique of the first Gulf War, and it was published in the campus alternative newspaper, The Devil’s Advocate.  By the way, when are we going to see some campus radicals resurrect that paper? So yeah, for me personally, it made me realize I could express myself in a different way. Poetry does that for you, and it’s open the doors to other forms of literature. I’ve become a big fan plays, and I’ve even written one myself (just finished it off).

What did you like about our department?

The fact that Lorrie Smith was my academic advisor. That meant I made regularly trips to her office, which was great because it’s located right next to Kerry Shea’s office.😉

What have you been doing since you graduated, and how does it relate to being an English major?

A couple of years after graduating I attended Vermont Law School and graduated in 1999. I’ve been practicing law since then. At first I did business and corporate law, but didn’t really find it personally fulfilling. In 2006 I left the corporate to go work for Legal Aid in Orlando, Florida, where I got to represent refugees seeking asylum in the United States, as well as undocumented immigrant women who were victims of domestic violence. In 2012 I moved back to New York City, where I spent a year working a public defenders office in Harlem, representing immigrants with criminal convictions that were facing deportation, and then in 2013 I started my own practice in downtown Manhattan. I do mostly immigration litigation before the federal courts (both trial and appellate work), as well as help people who want to become residents or citizens of the U.S. In terms of how my work relates to being an English major, I was already a pretty good writer when I started college. I got better at it while at St. Michael’s. I think any liberal arts that makes you dig deeper (as literature does) makes you a better writer, and that’s important when I’m writing briefs for, say, the U.S. court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. It really matters. In fact, I’ve had numerous appellate cases where government attorneys have called me and agreed with my written argument, resulting in the case being sent back to the trial court without a decision from the appellate court. so writing well – clear and concise and focused on your points – does make a difference to others who read your work. Plus, I deal with people who suffered or faced persecution and torture in their home country. Having a sense of history, and understanding the root cause of a country’s instability is important. Literature is a part of that understanding.  Having read Frederick Douglass, the Grapes of Wrath and so forth, I listen to my clients and realize they face similar obstacles.  Yes, that includes slavery – I’ve had a couple of clients who were forced into sexual slavery at a young age.

You were writing a lot of poetry in college.  Are you still writing?

Yes, but not poetry.  I’ve written poetry on and off over the years, depending on what’s happening in my life. It’s something that’s a part of me, that’s always there in the background, something I can turn to and pick up when the urge hits me. I actually just finished my play (re-edited of course), and now I’m working with a creative director at a small theatre company in Manhattan to get it produced.

What are you reading these days?

Right now I’m almost done reading Jose Saramago’s Blindness.  Next on the list is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Heretic and some poetry by Charles Simic. Plus I’ve got a couple of scholarly books on refugees and asylum on my plate.


Current Student Profiles

Emily HouleEmily Houle (class of 2015, English and Secondary Education)

What has your Saint Michael’s experience, particularly your experience as an English major, been like?

I think my experience as a Saint Michael’s English major was made especially fulfilling because of my dual major in Education. English gave me the ability to dive into words and ideas, and to enjoy language on many different levels, whereas Education gave me the ability to learn how to channel this appreciation. I’m not sure I could have gained this anywhere else, and it’s mostly because of the staff in the English departments – every professor has their specialty area, and their own individual ways of expressing their appreciation for their focus. Being able to learn from such passionate individuals has fueled my own enthusiasm for the topics I have learned to enjoy and appreciate.

What additional activities have you pursued related to the English major during your time at St. Mike’s? (here you could talk about the VPAA summer research grant and your book and perhaps student teaching)

During the summer of 2014, I was fortunate enough to receive a VPAA summer research grant which allowed me to write a 43-page manuscript of poetry, as well as create a teaching unit for juniors and seniors in high school focusing upon spoken word and slam poetry.  I had the opportunity to teach elements of this unit at the Lyndon State Upward Bound program, organizing a poetry slam for the students. I also had the opportunity to give a reading of my own works in October of 2014. The experience of being able to create my own works of poetry was such an intense challenge – I had leeway to play with styles and writing strategies to my hearts content, and by the end of the summer I had something tangible that I could be proud of. Between that and implementing lesson plans of my own design was thrilling and challenging on so many levels – I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to take that academic and creative leap. Student teaching has also served to be one of the highlights of my time here at St. Mikes. I’m able to put into practice the strategies I’ve been learning into my own experience of teaching literature.  The overarching question of a class I’m co-teaching is “Why do we tell stories that aren’t even true?” and being able to watch students grapple with this question while guiding them towards answers and ideas is fun and fulfilling.

What are your career interests or post-graduate plans?

Teaching is something I always want to have the opportunity to do – I would love to be able to go for my doctorate, being a professor sounds like a great time if the St. Mikes English department is anything to go by. Yet while I am enjoying teaching and all that comes with it, I have also been working as a personal care attendant for the past year and a half, and that experience has given me an insight to my strengths in working with special needs individuals in a one-on-one basis.  It’s been a very positive and challenging experience for me, and between that and teaching, I’m not sure which direction I will veer in after graduation. No matter where I go, however, English is something that I think will always be an emotional and intellectual fuel source for me – as long as I can continue writing poetry and reading and sharing fantastic books, I’ll be pretty pleased with wherever I am.

What are you reading now?  What is the most recent book you’ve read that you’d recommend to someone, and why?

Right now in my student teaching placement I’m taking part in a class titled “Global Literature,” and our students have just finished reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. I enjoyed Haroun immensely, and I would recommend it for readers of all ages – the language is rich, following in a “fantastic-journey” narrative and there is something in it for everyone.  Since I enjoyed his writing style so much, I am currently working my way through Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in my spare time. I’m also reading Earthly Paradise by Colette – her writing is the kind that you enjoy in small sips because the language is so decadent.

Why did you decide to major in English?

I decided to major in English because I REALLY liked to read!  That was essentially the source of the decision. I still stand by that reasoning – now, however, after four years of intensive learning I can say I know how to enjoy reading on greater levels than when I began, and I like being able to reflect upon that learning in my self.

2015 English Major Graduates – Congratulations!

Please join us in congratulating the following students:

Thomas A. Barron, Maire E. Bartkus, Samantha B. Burns, Mariah C. Cleveland, Jaimee A. Deuel, Seamus W. Fitzpatrick, Daniel J. Haessig, Russell S. Hammond, Emily A. Houle, Shelby L. Knudson, Laura E. Kujawa, Ethan D. Madden, Barry T. Maily, Megan E. Majonen, Sara M. Mandeville, Clare A. McGrath, Helen O. Moslander, Sarah J. Murray, Kristina L. Natal, Shawna M. Norton, Marissa N. O’Shea, Julia G. Scanlon, Christopher A. Schleper, Christian E. Schou, Katrice D. Theroux, Shelby L. Weister, Devin D. Wilder

On the Nightstand

Recently Professor Christina Root caught up with Emeritus Professor Carey Kaplan to talk about what she has been reading since her retirement from the English Department last May.

Knowing what a voracious reader on a wide range of subjects Carey has always been, I was interested to find out how retirement might be changing her habits and tastes. I started with that question.

Carey:  I have been reading European history for the past year or so. Although my field is eighteenth-century British literature, I find many lacunae in my knowledge, especially of European history from, say, 1650 to 1950. I have been especially interested in the interplay among various countries of religion, politics, scientific developments, and literature. When you study one country and one period intensively, as I have done with Great Britain, it is easy to narrow one’s focus and to neglect complex inter-relationships among cultures. Learning more about Russia, about the establishment of the German and Italian states, and about the Ottoman Empire has broadened my knowledge base and permitted new perspectives I didn’t have previously. I also find social history fascinating and have read a bunch of books on daily life in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This interest is not new, but now I have time to indulge it more thoroughly.

Christina: How about fiction? Have you continued to be drawn to novels?

Carey: My reading of fiction has not been extensive this year. I just finished, following your recommendation, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, which I enjoyed both because it is elegantly written and deals with the complicated life of a mature, educated, single woman–a topic rather scanted in literature until the 21st century. I also reread Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady along with Michael Gorra’s wonderful Portrait of a Novel: The Making of an American Masterpiece. James protagonist, Isabel Archer, is another independent woman struggling to define herself. Alice Munro is another writer I love. Once again, her complicated, often mature women characters along with her miraculous writing keep me coming back again and again.

Christina: Can you describe the role reading plays in your life?

Carey: There is nothing I enjoy more than reading. I cannot imagine my life without books. I read for knowledge and self-knowledge and for pure pleasure. Since I retired, I have noticed myself thinking that I may not have time to read on such and such a day. Then I realize that I have time to read what I want when I want most of the time. I feel a surge of joy at the knowledge. My reading has always been eclectic to a degree. I love British murder mysteries, the twee-er the better. I am a P.G. Wodehouse fanatic. I love biographies, memoirs, history, natural history, gardening books, cook books, short stories, novels. I am most at home with British writers but am capable of reading African, Asian and other literatures. You know how I feel about Proust. I read at least a volume a year. About a year ago I read about 20 of Trollope’s novels one right after the other for weeks and weeks. I read The New Yorker every week, the Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, People, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping and a bunch more that are really embarrassing.

Christina: The English Department misses you egregiously, for all the things about you that this short exchange makes abundantly evident.


Faculty News

Professor Liz Inness-Brown published a nonfiction piece called “Twelve Days in October” in the online magazine Madcap Review, which is edited and produced by an SMC English grad, Craig Ledoux. He’s looking for submissions for the third issue now ( In August 2014, Liz gave a reading of her fiction and held a writing workshop at the first annual Writers’ Forum put on by the Greensboro Arts Alliance in Greensboro, Vermont, where she had a chance to hang out with English Department alum Sara Dillon, who lives and writes there in the summer. Liz also says that the completion of her second novel is so close that she can smell it. Cross your fingers and watch here for more news!

9781625340948In June 2014 University of Massachusetts Press published Suburban Plots: Men at Home in Nineteenth Century American Print Culture by Professor Maura D’Amore. A synopsis from the UMass Press website: “In Suburban Plots, Maura D’Amore explores how Henry David Thoreau, Henry Ward Beecher, Donald Grant Mitchell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nathaniel Parker Willis, and others utilized the pen to plot opportunities for a new sort of male agency grounded, literarily and spatially, in a suburbanized domestic landscape. D’Amore uncovers surprising narratives that do not fit easily into standard critical accounts of midcentury home life. Taking men out of work spaces and locating them in the domestic sphere, these writers were involved in a complex process of portraying men struggling to fulfill fantasies outside of their professional lives, in newly emerging communities. These representations established the groundwork for popular conceptions of suburban domestic life that remain today.”

untitledIn February 2015 Louisiana State University Press published Book Seventeen by Professor Greg Delanty. A description from the LSU Press website: “Purporting to be a ‘lost’ seventeenth book of the 16-volume Anthologia Graeca, Book Seventeen uses the themes and images of ancient mythology to conjure a new way of looking at our modern world. Gods of all types line the pages of this collection, from those deities that only operate in our personal spaces—the poet’s companion, the demigod Solitude, as well as the elusive god of Complicity—to more familiar divinities in unfamiliar roles, such as Helios shopping in an outdoor market in Paris, or an aging Aphrodite in a short skirt chatting with visitors to an unfamiliar city. Pithy and humorous, reverential and impudent, Greg Delanty’s poems showcase the author’s keen eye for the mythologies on which we depend to make sense of our messy, bewildering lives.” Book Seventeen was published in the UK by the Oxford Poets Series of Carcanet Press under the title The Greek Anthology, Book XVII and has received positive reviews in The Examiner, The Irish Times, Poetry Review, Poetry London, PN Review, Irish Literary Supplement, etc. In addition to his latest book, Greg has had poems in The Irish Times, Greenzine, Poetry Daily (online), Stoney Thursday Magazine, Poetry Review, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is an entry in the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry. A translation from the Irish was broadcast on RTE, Radio and Television, Ireland. He also had a translation from early Irish in the recent Faber and Faber Anthology The Finest Music: an anthology of Early Irish Lyrics. Greg has given readings of his poetry at Holy Cross College, Saint Michael’s College (on the publication of his latest book, Book Seventeen), and A Celebration of Burlington Poets—Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, VT.

Two film books are forthcoming by Professor Bob Niemi in the early part of 2016. Robert Altman: Hollywood Maverick will be published by Wallflower Press (an imprint of Columbia University Press) as part of their Directors’ Cuts series. The other book is entitled 100 Great War Movies: The Real History Behind the Films. The war film book will be Niemi’s third book for ABC-Clio, a major publisher of history-related works based in Santa Barbara, CA.

Professor Christina Root has an article forthcoming from the journal Papers on Language and Literature (Southern Illinois U.) entitled “Natural and Nurtured Affinities: the Importance of Friendship to Goethe’s Science.” She gave a paper on Thoreau’s essay “Wild Apples” at the most recent Nineteenth Century Studies Association Conference, in Boston this March. Christina has been teaching courses for the new Environmental Studies Program, and, along with Nat Lewis, designed the “Environmental Imagination” track for students.

Excerpts from Professor Lorrie Smith‘s article, “The Things Men do: The Gendered Subtext in Tim O’Brien’s Esquire stories,” originally published in Critique 36:1 (Fall, 1994) have been selected for inclusion in the 12th edition of the Norton Introduction to Literature, edited by Kelly Mays.

Tribute: The Renaissance Man of the English Department

NickClaryProfessor Nick Clary joined the English Department at Saint Michael’s in the fall of 1970; in that first academic year he taught four sections of College Writing, two sections of the full survey of British Literature, and two upper level sections on Shakespeare and Milton. That is a staggering course load by today’s standards, but Nick only became more energized by the challenge, and he’s been going strong ever since. Now almost 46 years later, Nick is “gradually” moving towards retirement: in July, he will hand over the reins of the highly respected Honors Program that he initially restructured in 2008 and has masterfully directed for the past eight years. Next fall, he’ll teach a single section of his signature Shakespeare course, followed by a repeat of his spring / summer—on campus / study abroad course, “Shakespeare in Performance: On Film (S’16); On Stage (SU ’16). In the year that marks the 400th anniversary of  Shakespeare’s death, Nick will honor the milestone for his students with classic intensity:  three consecutive semesters of  upper-level Shakespeare coursework;  travel to England with sixteen Saint Michael’s undergraduates who will be housed in a magnificent “college estate” with 12th century monastic origins (at which Nick’s close friend Nicolas Baldwin presides as Dean); class screenings of  several of the best film versions of Shakespeare’s plays; class viewings of at least five live performances in London and Stratford-on-Avon, and substantive guidance for students researching and writing on  these experiences. Later in the 2016 milestone summer, Nick will present at the International Shakespeare Conference in Stratford, and continue his research, writing, and collaborative projects.  We would expect nothing short of that from Professor Clary.

Nick Clary has nearly 30 notable publications including peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, and significant editing projects such as the New Variorum Hamlet and He has presented papers at nearly 30 conferences and symposiums, in addition to organizing and chairing both a Shakespeare Symposium and a Renaissance Symposium at the college within his first five years of teaching; he also has brought the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express—now the American Shakespeare Center’s Traveling Company—to Saint Michael’s annually for the past 20 years.  He’s been awarded numerous grants, fellowships, and awards, including the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988, and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 1999. In a particularly notable confluence of professional activity while teaching in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Nick served simultaneously as the Associate Dean of the College, the Coordinator of  the Study Abroad Program in the years before a director was hired, was tapped for the “first” First-Year Seminar Committee,  developed the Student Life training program for the LEAP Retreats, volunteered within his community as the Cultural Enrichment Director of the National Youth Sports Camps, and excelled as the Men’s Varsity Tennis Coach for eight years—he still holds the coaching record for the most wins in a season and most wins overall for that sport at the college.

Saint Michael’s will be hard pressed to fill the shoes of this Renaissance Man, but the Nick Clary Legacy will most certainly live on—even if we are not exactly sure when he will fully retire.  For Nick is still very much an active and intensive part of that “brave new world,  / That has such people in’t” . . . and we are all the better for it.   After all, we know there will be “More Anon”—with Nick, there always is.

Tribute: The beloved “Kathie B.”

Kathleen-BalutanskyThe Department will greatly miss Professor Kathie Balutansky, who is retiring at the end of the 2014-15 academic year. She arrived twenty-three years ago from the University of Virginia, where she had already established herself as a promising scholar and professor of Caribbean Women’s Literature. She enriched our major with a diverse array of courses–senior seminars on Magical Realism, Julia Alvarez and Jamaica Kincaid, and Contemporary Women Writers; first-year seminars on The Examined Life and Global Studies; and courses on Caribbean Literature, multi-ethnic fiction, critical theory, gender studies, and Literature of the Americas. Most recently, she developed new courses on Creative Nonfiction (Travel Writing) and Writing the Study Abroad Experience.  She is the author of one book and co-editor of two others, and she has written over two dozen articles, reviews, book chapters, and conference presentations.  Kathie has a particular interest in program development and administration, which she put to great use in the initial grant to develop the Global Studies Program in 2001, contributions to the development of service learning (which she also put into practice in four service-learning trips to Haiti), organizing the international Haitian Studies Association Annual Conference in 2001, and serving as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2004 to 2010, during which time she oversaw the 2010 NEASC Accreditation report and evaluation team visit.  For her tireless devotion to these activities, she was awarded the Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award in 2002 and the Class of 2003 Appreciation Award. There is no chance that Kathie will slow down in retirement, as she has plans to pursue her interest in geology and quantum physics, contribute to higher education projects in Haiti, complete an interdisciplinary book on Haiti, and continue master gardening and restoring a historic stone house on Isle LaMotte with her husband, John.


Onion River Review

Onion River Review 2015 001The 42nd annual edition of the Onion River Review was published on April 1, 2015. This year’s core editors are: Briana Brady, Sam Burns, Lily Gardner, Russell Hammond, Shawna Norton, and Cory Warren.






Featured Poem from the new issue:


By Kenny Giangregorio

The forest

after a snowstorm

bare trees

thinning hair

on an aging scalp.

The frozen pond

pale white,

a growing bald patch

over a dark,

cold consciousness.