This past Friday, after a long day of class, the students and faculty of the Writing & Publishing program gathered in Cafe Anna to hear three professors give a reading, the first of the year for us in the MFA program. It was a fine showing, and the little cafe downstairs was packed. Below are scenes from a Friday afternoon at VCFA.
Mary Ruefle, above, has written 11 collections of poetry, and she read from her latest work, 2016’s My Private Property. For the past two weeks, she has been conducting a workshop with us, a mix of tough love, professional guidance, and damn fine advice. “I love writing down witty, accurate, and funny quotes that Mary says in class,” said Gina, a classmate who introduced our readers. “Such as, ‘journaling is not literature.'”
Jensen Beach teaches the Professional Development course for second-years, when he’s not helming the fiction department at the Green Mountains Review, or skiing. “I remember being intimidated by him at first,” said Gina, “but soon felt at ease by his easygoing personality and roster of jokes. His bios usually contain the following line, which I will end with: Jensen lives in Vermont.”
Liz Powell’s latest book of poems was picked by the New Yorker as one of their favorite books of 2016, “a daring hybrid collection that deftly melds lineated verse, agile prose, and striking monologues.” Gina described her as encouraging and compassionate: “When I just started, I told Liz that I had to miss a few classes [for medical reasons],” she introduced. “Not long after a book arrived in my mailbox from Liz…written by a woman going through the same experience.”
Throughout the reading wine, beer, cheese, and crackers all featured heavily into the rotation.