Greetings from the Chair

Prof. LewisBreak out the streamers, hankies, and champagne—and welcome to the maiden voyage of the English department newsletter!  In the following digital pages you will encounter a number of familiar names and faces, and some new ones as well.  You will find news about faculty, students, and fellow alumni.  You might even find a poem or two.  But before we set sail and boldly launch upon the deep, let me take this opportunity on behalf of the department to send warm greetings to you, our extended English department family.  That is, though this venture is a new one for us, it is not a departure so much as an arrival: a chance to share the department’s news with alumni and friends, and to encourage our one-time students to reconnect with us.  To borrow from Walt Whitman, you are more to us, and more in our meditations, than you might suppose.

This is my fifteenth year at St. Michael’s College and I am delighted to say that the third floor of St. Edmund’s Hall remains a spirited home of literary explorations, both a cutting edge and a refuge.  Over the last few years we have added two remarkable colleagues: Tim Mackin, who runs the Writing Center and teaches both composition and literature; and Maura D’Amore, who specializes in 19th Century American literature.  And come fall, Joan Wry (whom many of you will remember) will be joining the department after eight years of heroic service as the dean of undergraduates.  The department continues to teach an eclectic range of courses both traditional and esoteric, with classes on topics such as Travel Writing, Shakespeare, Melville, Nature Writing, and Digital Literature.  And, in addition to our Literature minor, we now offer a minor in Creative Writing that is already an enormous success.  Of course, the engine of the entire enterprise is and will always be our students, who continue to inspire us with their energy, intelligence, curiosity, and kindness.  In the best possible sense: same as it ever was.

Our hope is to publish a departmental newsletter every spring, sharing our collective stories.  But the time is always ripe for new narratives, anecdotes, and tall tales—so please take this introductory note as an invitation to renew the journey with us.  Drop a line.  Say hello.  In the meantime: Anchors Aweigh!

Nat Lewis, Chair, Department of English

2013 English Major Graduates – Congratulations!

Please join us in congratulating the following students:

Katherine A. Abbott, Leah J. Allen, Samantha Asker, Gabriela L. Barrowcliff, Rachael E. Bartz,     Anthony A. Bassignani, Rebecca A. Black, Megan L. Boylan, Emily C. Cryan, Kerry R. Cyr, Alyssa K. D’Antonio, Emily L. Dec, Nicole M. D’Elisa, Libby C. Dougherty, Halle B. Dyer, Victoria M. Gerbis, Melissa E. Hallisey, Roisin S. Hannah, Kelsie L. Harris, Malcolm T. Herbert, Lindsay R. Houston, Eric R. Jaukkuri, Jordan E. Leamy, Laura E. Levin, Jennifer N. Lockfort, Jean-Marie McGrath, Paige E. Morrone, Mariandrea Munar, Anna C. Puza, Dylan M. Renca, Madelena F. Santore, Christopher A. Schleper, Lauren W. Simano, Mary E. Spaulding, Erin L. Stevens, William J. Watson, Timothy J. Whelan, Victoria L. Wonderlick, Nicole M. Wright

On the Nightstand

Christina Root recently caught up with Will Marquess to find out what he has been reading. A portion of Will’s reading time each year is taken up with the quest to find the book for all incoming students to read together and write about in their First Year Seminars. The interview began with that project.

What criteria do you use in choosing the Common Text?

We look for good writing that is accessible to the average entering student, and will (we hope) provoke discussion.  I don’t think I can define it any more precisely than that.  The choice each year depends on many variables, such as what we may have done in previous years (we hope for variety), what’s happening in the world, and who’s on the committee.

Every year you assign your fiction writing students the new edition of Best American Short Stories. Have you discovered any favorite authors among them? And seen any trends? Would you say that short stories are in good shape? Is it a good time to be a writer?

I have particularly enjoyed George Saunders; he often has a new story represented. He writes slightly dystopic stories that are provocative and well-crafted. A change I’ve seen over time is that short stories used to be written primarily from one point of view, and now authors are experimenting with multiple points of view, even within the small space of a story. The yearly collections suggest that writers are very interested in the genre and producing excellent material. It’s a good time to be a fiction writer as long as you are not expecting to make money at it. It’s a good time insofar as a lot of people seem deeply engaged in it, and I don’t think there is a suffocatingly dominant style.

Do you read every book given or recommended to you? I know you have read every one I have sent your way. It has been very impressive.

Not every book…but, of course, I particularly like to read things students recommend. Recently, I have been impressed with two books by the author of young adult novels, John Green, particularly The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books, 2012).

What role does reading play in your life?

It has always been one of my deepest pleasures, especially in the early morning with a cup of coffee before the sun comes up. I think reading makes me a better listener.  Paying attention to the voice (or voices) in a book is a version of paying attention to a person who is speaking to you.  The great variety of voices in literature, and the indirections often involved in decoding them, remind me not to expect the people I meet to speak in some standard, “relatable” way.  I need to make an effort to meet them—and the effort often rewards me. Besides, we live in language, and reading enriches our use of it.


Current Student Profiles

RebeccaRebecca Black ’13

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

In a word, my Saint Micheal’s experience has been a joy.  I have never regretted my decision to come here because I have made some of the most amazing friends, I have taken some of the best classes with the most intelligent and thoughtful professors, and I have always felt very much a part of something here.  This certainly coincides with how I feel about being an English major, because I’ve taken multiple classes with the same professors and students and through that, the department really came to feel like a home.  I’ve been challenged in ways I never would have challenged myself, and I’ve gotten to think in ways that I never would have considered before.  I feel incredibly lucky to have been an English major here.

What additional activities have you pursued related to the English major during your time at St. Mike’s?

I spent about a year training and working in the Writing Center, but unfortunately had to withdraw from it due to other commitments.  I loved doing it, though, and there’s something incredibly special and rewarding about helping people write.  It’s not so much about you as a teacher as it is about them as a writer, and maybe it’s because I also love writing, but I got a lot of excitement about seeing people excel in that area.

What are your career interests or post-graduate plans?

My post-grad plans are still up in the air, with the exception of continuing to live in Burlington, but after some time away from school I would like to get my Master’s in publishing so that I can eventually work a publishing company.  I am not too committed to anything at the moment because, ultimately, if I am reading and writing and working with other readers and writers, I will be happy.

What are you reading now?

I actually just started the first “pleasure” book that I’ve had time to read in a while.  It’s called Last Days by Adam Nevill (“Britain’s answer to Stephen King,” says the cover, which was my reasoning for buying it).  I’m halfway through Lolita for the second time (for class) and just finished Erasure by Percival Everett (also for class).  I’m normally pretty bad at juggling that many books at once, but Last Days is just too good to put down.

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

Part of me wants to say Moby-Dick because I am still riding the high of reading it for the first time. It was excruciating and frustrating a lot of the time, but there were some very visceral moments I experienced while reading it.  It was an experience, to say the least. Maybe more likely, though, I would recommend The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman.  A friend recommended it to me and it’s a bizarre book about a therapist who has a patient who can make himself invisible and starts spying on people, but it definitely makes you think.

Why did you decide to major in English?

The easy answer is that I love to read and write, and this major caters to that pretty well.  The more complex answer is that I’ve always found that it makes my life easier to have books around, and to be surrounded by people who understand that is a really good feeling.  I love sitting down and tearing apart the text.  I love waxing poetic about the aesthetics.  I love forcing myself to think beyond the page, or within the page, or not about the page at all.  You can already see that critical theory still lives in my brain, but that is why I stuck with this major: it allows you to see the world in so many different ways.

BryanBryan Hickey ’15

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

St. Mike’s English courses altered the way I read and analyze text. Whether I am reading for school or pleasure, I find myself thinking at a deeper level. I believe the small classroom settings, working with other passionate peers, and getting to work closely with my teachers, keeps me motivated to push myself further and further. I know I picked the right major because at times I forget I am doing homework.

What additional activities have you pursued related to the English major during your time at St. Mike’s?

I am a core editor for the Onion River Review. The experience reviewing and selecting different types of poems, fiction and artwork has allowed me to take the knowledge I gained from class and use it in a fun, new and exciting way. Studying English has also sparked my interest in philosophy. I found that good fiction typically poses philosophical questions. In my search to better understand characters, plots and so on, I unexpectedly found a passion for philosophy.

What are your career interests or post-graduate plans?

I plan to enroll in a masters/PhD program in English. I hope to also receive a masters in philosophy. I want to one day become an English professor. Oh and write a best-selling novel…

What are you reading now?

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, Nice Work by David Lodge, and poems by T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and for pleasure, Home by Toni Morrison.

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

Beloved by Toni Morrison. It’s the most powerful book I’ve read. The style and imagery are completely original. The book sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.

Why did you decide to major in English?

I wanted my education to teach me two things: reason and communication. I also want to be a novelist so naturally, I leaned towards English.

Alumni Profiles

Cynthia Bliss ’10

Hometown: White Plains, New York

What got you interested in your current field?

I fell into my current field by accident. I knew while I was still a student at SMC that I wanted to work at a German company which would allow me to practice my foreign language skills. When a position in Telecommunications opened at one of Germany’s largest banks in the city (New York), I took it. I had nothing to lose and only knowledge to gain.

What led you down the path to where you are now?

I feel very tempted to make a corny Robert Frost joke but I’ll refrain. I’ll admit, graduating from school and moving back home with my parents was a shock after being on my own in Vermont for four years. The summer after I graduated I went to Germany to become fluent. When I returned I started as a temp in small and large offices in Westchester and Manhattan. I wanted to keep busy and build that “practical experience” to my resume. When I heard Commerzbank was hiring in 2011 – I went after it, and I think working as a temp for a year gave me the confidence I needed to reach for something more.

What experiences in the Saint Michael’s College English Department prepared you for your post-graduate training and your career?

So many of the lessons I learned inside those classrooms has resonated with me. Anytime I felt myself “hitting rock bottom” I knew it was a good thing because I read, Fight Club in Senior SemSaint Michael’s College English Department taught me how to relate to the world, communicate, express myself, and to always challenge myself. There was always more writing to be done and we didn’t just read Shakespeare, we acted it out. We didn’t just read Chaucer, we learned his version of Old English, we didn’t just learn Samuel Johnson was the man who wrote a dictionary, we learned about his personal life. We didn’t just watch the BBC film version of Emma and watch the characters dance at the ball, we took a class together and learned every step of the dance ourselves. If anything, the English Department taught me how to apply myself 100% in everything I do. Which is something one needs in every career.

Do you have any advice for students interested in your field?

Be open-minded. Treat every experience as good experience and follow your heart. Don’t be afraid of learning excel – technology isn’t all bad. And be sure to take lots of notes (but not to fear, taking notes is something English Majors were born to do!)

What advice would you give current Saint Michael’s College students interested in graduate study and/or specifically interested in your field? 

Research, research, research and consider all the factors of any graduate study program when applying. It should be a program which hopefully you are passionate about. And if you’re not quite sure what you want to do, working is a great way to find out. One of the most important things I’ve learned since being out of school is, sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do want.

Allison Grimaldi Donahue ’06

Hometown: Middletown, Connecticut

What got you interested in your current field?

I would say it was a combined interest in Italian and American literature.  I took many courses in American Literature at St. Mike’s and after my study abroad experience junior year in Italy I became interested in Italian literature as well.  I wanted to be involved in both of those things.

What led you down the path to where you are now?

That’s a difficult question.  I feel like I am on a winding country road.  I went to graduate school and studied medieval Italian literature, twice.  But these courses were always accompanied by a lot of contemporary philosophy and literature, not only from Italy but from all over.  As much as I was enjoying my studies I think I began to feel the need to be involved in literature and I felt far away from the action.  I moved to Italy and began to say “yes” to as many projects as possible hoping to find the right one.  What I found is that perhaps there isn’t a right one for me.  I like doing many different things and it took a while to accept that.

What experiences in the Saint Michael’s College English Department  prepared you  for your post-graduate training and your career?

One thing that is remarkable about the Saint Michael’s English Department is the level of conversations that occur inside and outside of the classroom.  There were moments when literature classes changed my life–when I think of classes co-taught by Nathaniel Lewis and Carey Kaplan for example, or finally really enjoying British literature with Christina Root.  I realized how much literature and the interpretation of literature can influence us.  My experiences working with Will Marquess on the Onion River Review also meant a lot to me.  It was my first experience in seeing how a magazine is put together and taught me so much in terms of editing.  I had so many great teachers, who I always try to model now that I am at the front of the classroom.  I even try to model some of the New Criticism style John Engels taught so well; and I mean this about poetry but also in conversation–he was someone who demanded real answers, real arguments–I’ll never forget that.

Do you have any advice for students interested in your field?

Keep trying.  And then try some more.  I have to continually remind myself to do the same.  Especially in terms of literary translation.  There is a statistic out there, something like 3% of all books published in the US are translations, it’s pretty depressing, so you have to be enthusiastic and convincing.  I would also say to read and write as much as possible, in both English and the language you want to work with and if you can, live in a country where they speak that language for a good while.  Not only will living there help your language skills but you will meet the writers you are interested in and that is much more than any New York publisher can do for you in terms of networking.

What advice would you give current Saint Michael’s College students interested in graduate study and/or specifically interested in your field?

Talk to your professors, get to know them; take a wide range of classes, you never know what you might fall in love with; misread things and read again; learn how to speak publicly.  There are a lot of things that you just can’t do after college and for those four years or so you get to live with literature, all the time, take advantage.  I would also highly recommend studying abroad, where they don’t speak English.  Study a foreign language as soon as possible.  Maybe it seems like a strange thing for an English major to say, but really, I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the English language and my passion for American literature as much as I do living in a foreign country.

Will Stickney ’05

What got you interested in your current field?

After I moved to San Francisco in July 2006, I knew I wanted a job that utilized my English degree, but also a position teaching me about how a business is run. My sister-in-law had a internship (a few summers prior to my move to SF) at a PR firm called Fleishman-Hillard, and she recommended I give it a try based on my English degree. I was accepted to the intern program and really enjoyed working on projects with big brands (like Yahoo!) and interacting with media to help tell stories that moved our clients business forward.

What led you down the path to where you are now?

After I completed my internship I joined a smaller PR agency in San Francisco, which specialized in representing enterprise technology companies (think pretty geeky stuff like human resource, customer relationship management, and IT asset management software companies). I was at the company for almost 5 years before I left for Twitter. Working at a PR agency allowed me to work with companies in a number of different fields, which was extremely valuable in helping me understand how public relations/communications can help move ANY business forward, regardless of the industry.

What experiences in the Saint Michael’s College English Department prepared you for your post-graduate training and your career?

Having a wide variety of classes in the English department was a great way to learn how to communicate in the business world. Whether is was writing short, pithy bursts in my poetry classes with Professor Delanty; or the longer, more descriptive exercises with Professor Wry – all were part of the reason I gravitated (and have been successful) to the communications industry

Do you have any advice for students interested in your field?

Use your family, friends, and alumni network who are in (or have been) a public relations role to discuss what It’s like to work in the industry. Outside of actually working for a PR firm or on a in-house communications team, this is the best way to hear an unfiltered version of the day-to-day aspects of working in this industry.

What advice would you give current Saint Michael’s College students interested in graduate study and/or specifically interested in your field?

I would highly recommend getting an internship at a PR agency (or on a PR team inside a company) a during your summer break. It’s the best way to understand if its a career you can see yourself pursuing for the long haul. Plus from a hiring perspective, students applying for a first time job usually have a leg up if they have had prior experience in that field.


Department News

This year’s John Engels Memorial Reading at St. Michael’s is set for Tuesday, March 26, at 7:00 pm in the Farrell Room (on the third floor of St. Edmund’s Hall).

Jacob Fricke will be this year’s Alumni Reader. He’ll read from his book  This Book of Poems You Found, published in 2010 by Illuminated Sea Press. Jacob is the former poet laureate of Belfast, Maine, as well as a former coach in the SMC Writing Center. The Reading will take place at 4:45 pm on April 2, 2013, in the Farrell Room.

Prof. Bob Niemi has been appointed Chair of the English Dept. He will take over from Prof. Nat Lewis (Chair from 2007 to 2013).

On May 3, 2013 the 2013 John Reiss Award was awarded to Emily Dec for her outstanding work as an English major. The Reiss Award commermorates Dr. John Reiss (1935-2008), a beloved and esteemed member of the St. Michael’s College English Dept. from 1968 to 2002.

Alumni News

Eireann Aspell (’10) is currently working at Cengage Learning in Boston as an Editorial Assistant for Political Science.

Erin Beatty (’03) graduated from law school in 2007 and since July 2012 has been working for the law firm of Harter Secrest & Emery in Rochester, New York as an associate in the Labor and Employment group.  Prior to that, Erin worked in Washington, DC and West Virginia.

Magen (Dwyer) Bias (’09) is teaching high school English (Honors World Literature & American Literature) at Lyndon Institute in Lyndonville, VT (her home town). She is proud to say she teaches alongside of four fellow Saint Michael’s  alums.

Cynthia Bliss (’10) has been working as a Telecommunications Specialist at Commerzbank AG in New York City’s World Financial Center since 2011. She says that her passion for German led her to Germany’s 2nd largest bank and that the writing and communication skills that she acquired as an undergrad are still being used on a daily basis. She feels that her minor in philosophy has helped her deal with many problems encountered faced at work. Cynthia also reports she recently joined a German book club at New York University and finds it most enjoyable (she doesn’t want to lose the foreign language skills she gained during her Junior year study abroad semester in Salzburg, Austria).

Abby Boucher (’09) graduated with a Masters in Victorian literature from the University of Edinburgh in August 2012, and is currently enrolled at the University of Glasgow as an English literature Ph.D. candidate.

From 2008 to 2012 Kathryn Burdett (’08) taught high school English on the Navajo Nation in Crownpoint, New Mexico and earned her MAT in Secondary Education from Western New Mexico University. For the past two years she has been teaching English and working as a writing consultant at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, VT. Kathryn has also been attending graduate school during the summer at the Bread Loaf School of English through Middlebury College.

Danielle Casey (’09) has been working in the Office of Alumni/Parent Programs at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island for the past two and a half years. She was recently promoted to Annual Giving Officer, Operations within the same department of University Relations and Advancement at Salve.

Paul Choquette (’10) is currently teaching high school English at Groveton High School in Groveton, New Hampshire. He also worked for two years with the Upward Bound Summer Program based on the Johnson State College Campus. Last August, Paul was married and he and his wife are now expecting in May. He says that it looks like it is going to be another exciting summer.

Meghan D’Arcy (’06) obtained a Masters in English Language Teaching from the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland and lived there for several years. Meghan is currently teaching English as a Second Language to 6th-12th grade students at Gill-Montague Regional School District in Turners Falls, MA.

Erin DeBernardi (’10) is currently working at UTC Aerospace Systems (a United Technologies company) in Vergennes, VT as a Human Resources Generalist.

Allison Donahue (’06) completed an MA in Italian from Middlebury College and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto.  She lives in Bologna Italy where she is a secondary school English teacher at the International School of Bologna. Allison also works as a writer and translator; her work has appeared in The New Inquiry, The American Reader, The Milan Review, Lo Spazio Bianco and the Diner Journal.  She is currently working on translating the novel Citta’ distrutte: sei biografie infedeli by Davide Orecchio which won the 2012 Premio Mondello. She will be back in Vermont this summer to begin her M.Litt at the Breadloaf School of English.

After graduating from St. Michael’s, Michelle Callahan-DuMont (’02) volunteered for a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Houston, Texas where she worked with refugees and taught English as a Second Language. She went back to get her masters in Applied Linguistics with an ESL focus at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Michelle reports that she has been a high school teacher for seven years now and is currently living in Tucson, Arizona where her husband is completing a Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Arizona.

Anne Fletcher (’06) received her Master’s of Social Work at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon in June 2012. She is currently working as a mental health crisis counselor in Multnomah County, Oregon. She and her fiance (Brian Howley, ’06) are in the midst of relocating back east, where both will be on the hunt for new book clubs….and jobs.

Michael Foust (’03) is currently the Athletics Director and Assistant Principal at Watervliet [NY] Jr/Sr High School–his first year in this position, as he taught ELA 7 there for the previous six years. While teaching, Michael was also an Assistant Men’s College Basketball Coach at both RPI and Sage–positions he was forced to give up when he became an administrator. While teaching at Watervliet, Michael earned a masters degree from the College of Saint Rose in Educational Administration and Leadership. Michael reports that he has “never been happier,” and is scheduled to get married this July 19th to his  fiance, Siovan.

Jamie Gorton (’10) will graduate from Boston University School of Law this May and am always happy to talk to any English majors considering studying law. He’ll be sitting for the Massachusetts and New Hampshire bar exams this July and will be practicing Immigration Law in Boston, Massachusetts and with the ambition to open a second office in Manchester, New Hampshire. Jamie reports that he and Rachael Roy Gorton ’10 were married last July at a ceremony celebrated by SMC’s Fr. Brian.

Chris Gosselin (’09) earned a Masters in Teaching from Simmons College in Boston and is now an English Literature teacher at Wakefield High School in Wakefield, MA. In very involved in the development of effective English Literature curriculum, and have done some writing on the transition between high school and college level literature. Courtney Harris works as a Reading Specialist in Ellington, Connecticut and is currently enrolled in a sixth year degree program that will include an additional certification in Language Arts Consulting.

After graduating from SMC in 2008, Ryan Kelly traveled to Prague and received her Trinity certificate in TESOL in the summer of 2009. Since then she has been living and working in the Czech Republic, in a city called Liberec about an hour north of Prague. Ryan worked for two years at a language school and is now freelancing, doing various teaching work as well as proofreading and writing for an English-language magazine, written for young English learners. She is currently looking ahead to next year and hoping to move to Asia to continue teaching in the fall.

Kaitlin Koffink (’10) is employed at Goffstown High School in Goffstown, NH as a 10th grade English teacher. She reports that this is her first year working at the high school and she “absolutely loves it.” She teaches five classes, three English-10 classes and two Creative Writing classes. Kaitlin is also in the process of obtaining her Special Education Certification through Granite State College in Littleton, New Hampshire. This fall she helped coach the Varsity Field Hockey team at Goffstown High and plan on doing so again next fall.

Glenn Manning  is currently working as a full-time, professional fire fighter in Newton, MA, while attending the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Glenn will graduate in May with an M.Ed., and plans to work as a high school English teacher. While in that role, he intends to conduct (and hopefully publish) participatory action research. Eventually, he would like to enter a Ph.D. program, either in English or Education. He says, “if that doesn’t work out, I hope to become either a pirate or an astronaut…”

Meghan MacLean graduated from UVM in May 2012 with a masters in English and in July started working as a project editor for a book publishing company called Inner Traditions/Bear & Company in Rochester, Vermont. She says, “Many thanks to the SMC English department for starting me on my way!”

Molly McGillicuddy (’06) graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction from Emerson College (SP 2012). She has been teaching courses in creative writing in the First-Year Writing Program at Emerson College (Boston, MA) and Wheaton College (Norton, MA), and reports that her fiction and non-fiction has been published in small press publications, including St. Mike’s very own Onion River Review.

Leah O’Brien (’08) received Masters degree in Integrated Marketing from Emerson College, Boston, May 2011. She is now Marketing Manager at Boston magazine.

Darcy Parker graduated from SMC with a degree in English Literature and then went to graduate school at U Mass-Boston to earn her Masters in Education. She currently teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Reading & Vocabulary at the BRIDGE Program, an alternative middle school in Lowell, MA.

Ashley Remick (’10) has been teaching high school math at Stevens High School in Claremont, New Hampshire for two years–although she continues to maintain her English certification. Ashley recently finished a masters at Western Governors University in math education and has begun work on a second masters, Curriculum and Instruction. She says she frequently finds myself teaching math different than her colleagues since she has an English teaching background as well. Ashley spends much of her summer time working on her novels in the hopes of becoming a published author. She is engaged to James Cole-Henry, a 2009 Cooper Union graduate. Kristin Roberts-Raymond (’06) reports she that she is an ESL Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire and also a student in the MA Literature Program at UNH.

Tina Rigas (’06) graduated SMC with a degree in English while also studying Secondary Education. Tina went on to UVM to obtain a masters in Special Education (class of 2009). She currently teaches at Chatham High School in Chatham, MA. Tina reports that this year was “the first year we implemented a pull-out English class for special needs students who were not able to access the curriculum within the regular English classes provided. Using my English degree, I taught a pull-out English class for students with intensive special needs in grades 9 and 10. I also co-teach in some of the English classes where my students require a special needs teacher in the classroom. This semester, I am co-teaching senior English. We are currently reading Frankenstein which one of the novels I read while at SMC.”

Drew Russo(’03) recently joined the staff of Congressman John Tierney (D-Massachusetts) as Outreach Director in his district office located in Peabody, Massachusetts. Drew had served as Finance Director on Tierney’s recent campaign (one of the most closely watched and hard fought in the country).  On the personal side, Drew and his fiancee are preparing for their wedding this summer.

Nathan Schoenly (’08) has had two scientific publications, one in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS (2011) with Prof. Malcolm Lippert in the Biology Department at SMC and another just this month in Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. Nathan also reports that he just graduated from dental school in May 2012 at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He is currently pursuing a specialty certificate in Endodontics (root canal specialist) and is scheduled to graduate from the program in 2014. Nathan says he owes much of his success to SMC and the outstanding faculty in the English and Biology departments.

Since June 2012 Will Stickney (’05) has been the communications manager for Twitter, working with the revenue side of the company. Prior to that Will was at a PR firm called Horn Group in San Francisco for five years and was an account supervisor when he left.

Meghan Sweezey (’10) recently moved back to Vermont and is the new Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations at SMC. Prior to getting this position she attended a two-year graduate program at Suffolk University where she earned a Master of Education in School Counseling and College Admissions Counseling Certificate. While completing her degree she worked as a school counseling intern at the high school level and was a graduate fellow in Suffolk’s Financial Aid Office. She reports that she’s “loving it so far and thoroughly enjoys being back at SMC.”

Logan Thurnauer(’09) earned a Master’s of Science in Education, specifically in Higher Education, at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010.  He then spent two years working at Salve Regina University, in Newport, Rhode Island, in their Residential Life Office as an Area Coordinator. Since July Logan has been working at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon as an Area Director in the Campus Living Department.  Courtney Wason (nee Condo), (’06) received my MA in English from the University of New Hampshire in 2009 and is currently a Children’s Librarian at the Derry Public Library in Derry, NH. where she runs book clubs for kids, art programs, story times, and lots more. Courtney says she “love[s] fostering a love of literature in even the youngest children. I get paid to read incredible picture books and imaginative YA literature, and I wouldn’t change a thing! It took me a while to get to this point (I wasn’t sure what I wanted after graduation), but I’m so happy I can use my English degrees in this way.”

Jen Weeks (’08) is teaching American Literature to Sophomores at Farmington High School in Farmington, NH. She reports that this is her first year at Farmington after having taught a general English class for freshmen and an American Lit class for juniors last year at Plymouth Regional High School in NH. Jen holds a masters degree from UNH. 

Jennifer Williams (formerly Jennifer Gale)(’05) is the Veterans Benefit Program Coordinator for Clay County, MN.


Faculty News

Prof. Maura D’Amore‘s book manuscript, Suburban Plots: Men at Home in Nineteenth-Century American Print Culture, is under contract with University of Massachusetts Press as part of their Studies in Print Culture and History of the Book series. The book will be published in Spring 2014. Also, Maura presented a paper for the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society’s panel on nature, culture, and gender in Hawthorne’s works at Modern Language Association annual meeting in January; the title of the paper was “Sick Buildings and Unhealthy Interiors in Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables.”

Delanty The Greek Anthology Book XVII mock (2)Prof. Greg Delanty‘s latest book of poems, The Greek Anthology Book XVII, was recently published by the Oxford Poets series of Carcanet Press in the UK. It will be published here in the U.S. by Louisiana State University Press in the Spring of 2015. Copies of the British edition are available from the Saint Michael’s Bookstore. The original Greek Anthology is made up of sixteen books of short poems attributed to many different authors, ranging from the seventh century BC to the tenth century AD. Delanty’s Greek Anthology, Book XVII–supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry–adds a modern fictional book to the original sixteen. Similar to the original in its range of tone and variety of subject matter, this fictive book offers old and new ways of looking at our contemporary world, drawing on a colorful ensemble of characters, including Delanty himself, friends, family and familiar names, such as Heanius, Kinsellius Major and Anthony the Elder. Greg has given many readings over the last year, including book launches of his new book in Dublin Ireland (launched by Terence Brown) and in Cork (launched by the Mayor of Cork in the Cork City Hall). He also read for The Poetry Society in London, and gave and  interview for its newsletter. While in London he gave a fully attended master poetry workshop organized by The Poetry School and the Poetry Society. He most recently gave a reading from his other recent book, not long out in paperback, The Word Exchange, Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation at Notre Dame hosted by the Notre Dame Medieval Institute. He will also give a reading of his poems in April at the University of Georgia in Athens, as well as for The New England Poetry society in July. He will chair a panel titled ‘Literary Impersonations’ at the upcoming Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) Conference at the University of Georgia  (Delanty is the immediate Past President of that association). Greg will also give a master class at the Creative Writing program at Vanderbilt University. While there he will take part in a panel titled ‘Edward Thomas and the English Lyric’ along with Edna Longley, Michael Longley, and Mark Jarman. He is currently organizing a poetry reading to help raise awareness of the environmental movement, to be held on May 5th and featuring a number of readers from around the state. Finally, Greg has individual  poems published or to be published in The Financial Times (UK),  Poetry London, The Alhambra Calender 2013, etc.

Liz Inness-BrownAfter twenty-four years as director of the Writing Center, Prof. Liz Inness-Brown retired from that role and from her role as coordinator of writing proficiency in 2012. She has returned to full-time teaching in the new Creative Writing minor and the First-year Seminar program. This change has also given her a chance to refocus her energies on her own writing, which currently means a novel in progress. She is also collaborating with English and Theater alum Ashley Favreau, who is writing a screenplay of Liz’s last novel, Burning Marguerite (Knopf, 2002). Liz and Robert Lair (Religious Studies Dept.) are giving a presentation in April at the 5th Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning at SUNY-Plattsburgh. The title of the presentation is “Scholarly Personal Narrative: A New Approach to Teaching First-Year Writing,” and it will feature two SMC students, Emily Clegg (an English major, class of 2016) and Priscille Lokossou, who will read their work as part of the presentation.

Inspired by True Events: An Illustrated Guide to More than 500 History-Based Films, the revised edition of Prof. Bob Niemi‘s book, History in the Media: Film and Television (first edition: 2006) will be published by ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA) in October, 2013. Bob will help host the 2013 North East Popular Culture/American Culture (NEPCA) Conference, which will be held at St. Michael’s College on Oct. 25-26. He will present “John Carpenter’s Dialectic of Enlightenment: They Live as Subversive Anti-Authoritarian Allegory” at the 8th International Rethinking Marxism Conference at the University Of Massachusetts at Amherst in late September and at the 2013 Film & History League Conference in Madison, Wisconsin in late November.

Lorrie Smith, professor of English and American Studies, has accepted an offer to participate in the NEH Summer Institute “Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry,” to be held July 14-August 3, 2013 on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. NEH Summer Scholar in this three-week institute receive a stipend for travel, housing and food.

Prof. Joan Wry is joining the English Department after serving, for several years, as Associate Dean of the College. Joan has just published “Perception, Representation, and the ‘property in the horizon': Thoreau’s and Emerson’s Differing Versions of a Liminal Aesthetic” in The Explicator 70:4 (2012) 264-267. She will present “Loon Games on Walden Pond: the Margins of Correspondence and Separateness in Nature,” at the College English Association conference in Savannah, Georgia in April, 2013; “Margaret Fuller’s ‘Raphael’s Deposition’ and the Tribune Letters: the Mater Dolorosa’s Creative and Revolutionary Rites of Passage,” at the Transatlantic Women Writers II conference in Florence, Italy in June, 2013; “‘In Lands I Never Saw': Emily Dickinson’s Alpine Requirements” at the Emily Dickinson World Citizen International Conference in College Park, Maryland in August 2013.

Onion River Review

OnionThe 40th Anniversary Edition of the Onion River Review was published on April 3, 2013.  This year’s core editors are Alex Dugas, Sarah Fraser, Bryan Hickey, Nick Lemon, Diana Marchessault, Mickey O’Neill, and Amy Wilson.  The issue includes work from several alumni English majors—Chris Canfield (’88), Mark Joyce (’87), and Dave Patterson (’02).

Featured Poem from the new issue:


by Sam Burns ’15

America, I love the roughness of you—

You’re like a man who’s gone three days without shaving,

You have just the right amount of stubble and

I love that when you sit down at the table

you just eat with your hands because you wouldn’t know what fork to use anyway.

I love your brashness,

your unapologetic salesman’s smile,

but America maybe you should apologize,

because when a middle-eastern man sits next to me on a plane you tell me that

I should be afraid.

Oh no, you say, I never told you that.

But you did, you

whispered it to me in the Patriot Act

and when you singled my father out of the security line

at JFK airport because he has tan skin and a black beard.

America, I love your shivering bass and rock and roll,

I love your country twang and spiky guitar riffs,

I love that your voice can be described as richly gravelly because your blues

is like a chocolate chip cookie that

tastes all the sweeter thanks to the grains of salt buried in the center.

You love to hear your people dissent through their music

because it transforms it from ugly opposition into art,

but America you annoy me because if I really were to release

Whitman’s barbaric yawp from my lungs I think you would just

turn your stereo up louder because some Princeton educated white man who writes for

the New Yorker said the song that’s playing on the alternative rock station you’re

listening to is kitschy

so you blast it because you need to prove that

your kitsch is tackier than mine (isn’t it funny? Aren’t we all so ironic?)

because that’s how you rebel against yourself,

by creating a counter culture you can buy on iTunes for 99 cents.

America, I love the absurdity of you.

I love Graceland, and the Cadillac Ranch, and Dolly Parton,

whoopee pies and Las Vegas,

and how dreadlocked skiers share the Wasatch mountains with stern-faced Mormons.

I love that Plymouth Rock is just a sad stone sitting in the sand next to a soda bottle.

I love your culture of no culture.

But why when I see the news do you tell me a black man shot someone?

Isn’t it enough to tell me he is just a man?

Aren’t we supposed to be equal here?

Why is Rush Limbaugh’s voice louder than mine?

And why is the word slut still being used to describe a bad woman?

Isn’t there something worse she could do than have sex with a lot of people and not be

sorry for it?

America, I want to hug you and hit you,

I want to strangle you and then sleep against the curve of your back,

I want to stop asking so much of you and then change my mind and

double my price.

Maybe everyone is right, maybe Americans really are

as stupid as they say, because we keep believing in your empty promises.

We know what we want, we’re just not sure how to get it, so

maybe we should stop telling the world we already have it

because it’s plain to everyone except us that our arms are empty.