FRONTMATTER

A New Home For New Students

The leaves have started to change: a spot of scarlet here and there, a clump of crimson among a sea of green. Last week and the week before it was pure green with no red to mark the change. Now, however, the crimson grows with each day while the green, like the sea, recedes. I’m looking forward to the New England color show, as are my fellow out of state students. We come from across the country and across the world, with two from California, two from Oregon (one of them by way of North Carolina),…

Fiction, Memoir, and Poetry--Oh My!

Welcome back to the Frontmatter for spring 2019 here in wintry Montpelier, Vermont! After a restful and re-energizing break, our writers are back on campus! As someone who stayed in the area for most of the holiday break, I can’t tell you how lovely it's been to begin classes again with my brilliant cohort and our thought-provoking faculty. I was starting to feel like I was haunting the place. After a few weeks back in classes, our 2019 faculty reading series officially began with a tour de…

Pursuing Those Emotional Questions

On Friday, November 9th, we welcomed a trio of writers to campus for another reading. This time, James Scott, faculty member and author of The Kept, Sean Prentiss, faculty member and author of Finding Abbey: A Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave, and Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir each read us excerpts of their work. A surprise snow shower started just before our evening began. Through the windows of Café Anna, we could see…

Mining Interiority & the "Everybody Test"

Because the campus has been hopping with various events and other residencies lately, our normal Friday night reading venue, Café Anna, was suspended this week, and we relocated to the Chapel on the second floor of College Hall. Framed by the giant pipe organ and ornate finished wood accents, our reading took on an oddly reverent feel. This is not to imply that we do not revere our visiting writers normally—quite the contrary. But, as you may imagine, the juxtaposition of discussing the poetic…

Musicality & Mistaken Identity: An Evening With Justin Bigos and Matthew Olzmann

This past Friday, we had the pleasure of hosting two poets for our reading series in Café Anna: Justin Bigos, current faculty member here at VCFA, author of Mad River and chapbook Twenty Thousand Pigeons and co-founder of Waxwing Literary magazine, and Dartmouth poet Matthew Olzmann, author of Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design. After mingling with the other attendees over drinks and hors d'oeuvres (pro tip: look out for the double-chocolate cookies—they are positively sinful) introductions…

And We're Back: The First Reading of Another Year at VCFA

On Friday the 14th we had our first open reading of the 2018-2019 school year. The evening featured the poetry and prose of the three individuals who lead our program: Associate Director Lizzy Fox, faculty member and Editor of the college’s literary magazine Hunger Mountain Erin Stalcup, and Director Rita Banerjee. Looking back a year ago when I started the program, I remember that the first reading set the tone for the semester to come. This year, as students, faculty, and community…

A Student Reading, Before The Final Farewell

The final reading of the semester—the entire year, really—was held in the Chapel, the night before graduation. It was the perfect opportunity for us to re-familiarize ourselves with our classmates' work. After a year in each other's company, we can identify everyone in our humble cohort by subjects and genres: tennis, addiction, magic realism, speculative fiction, dinosaurs. But the graduating students led hermit-like existences while finishing their theses. And our cohort was divided into…

A Night at the Theater

Just before graduating from the MFA in Writing & Publishing program, Dan Cretaro staged a reading of his thesis, a two-act play entitled "Yet, Not There." In the play, two couples spend a secluded weekend in the woods. They navigate the intricacies of childhood friendships, starting families, careers and the lack thereof, inside jokes, and Nineties wrestling references. It was a play worthy of reflecting the involvement and nuances that a long thesis project takes. Your humble chronicler got…

Boston Bound for Books!

Get on the bus; it's field trip time! Students from the MFA in Writing and Publishing program recently spent the weekend in Boston. We met with editors, publishers, and directors: Sven Birkerts and William Pierce of AGNI, Christina Thompson of the Harvard Review, Janaka Stucky of Black Ocean Press, and Christopher Castellani and Dariel Suarez of GrubStreet. It was illuminating to visit the places where we might pursue publication of our own work. But after a long winter in Vermont, it was also…

Riots, Rattlesnakes, and Rare Beasts

How time flies: we’re already at our last reading of the semester! And for this one, three extremely accomplished guests brought their finest work. First up, Matthew Dickman—Oregon Book Award winner and Guggenheim Fellow, reading from his latest collection of poetry, Wonderland. It is one of the three books you should read before you perish from this earth. It is a collection "charged with raw beauty and heartbreak,” said fellow poet and MFA candidate Jad Yassine, introducing him. “He…