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Congratulations to Alumnx Lizzy Fox

Congratulations to our own Lizzy Fox on the release of her book of poetry Red List Blue,  just published by Finishing Line Press. I “attended” the online reading and book launch party last Friday, sponsored by Bear Pond Books and the Hubbard Library. I’d previously heard Lizzy read a poem or two at VCFA readings, but on this night she read several that I hadn’t heard. I very much enjoyed them.

Lizzy is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program here at VCFA, and was the Assistant Director of the Writing & Publishing program until July of 2020. We love and miss her. She’s a bright and shining light who was ready to show each of us the way. If we ever had a question, the answer was always “Ask Lizzy.” But we are so proud of her for following her goals and moving on when she needed to. She left to attend the Teacher Apprenticeship Program at Champlain College where she will earn her Vermont teaching license and go on to teach high school English. The best of success in this endeavor, Lizzy!

And now she has a book out!

This is not a typical book of poetry. Lizzy came out of the slam poetry scene and sound is so important to her work. Her poetry resonates strongly with me and this is probably why. (I was a street poet in San Francisco in the 80s, and that scene melded into the slam scene.) I LOVE poetry that’s meant to be read OUT LOUD! Lizzy told us that before she began her MFA program she wasn’t very interested in how poetry looked on the page. But—despite still being concerned about the sound—she has come to appreciate carefully planning a poem’s look.

She began the reading with “Empty/Full” a poem about love and cold, which closes with these lines:

“Have you seen how the light bends off the ice these days?

The way snow becomes the sun? How empty the trees,

always reaching, never in want?”

Lovely lines, aren’t they?

Lizzy read several poems that night, and even when she thought she’d read the last one, Valentine’s Day, people asked for more: “Read Beryl,” they asked. “Read A minute to seven.” So, of course, she did.

Lizzy’s poetry–or at least what she read that night–seem to be invariably about love, but all kinds of love: not necessarily romantic love, but…that too. Even the poems that are serious have a light air to them, like pixies dancing in a field. I had thought I’d lost my taste for poetry, but Lizzy may just have revived it. I will leave you with my favorite lines of the night, from the poem Blue:

” …she was a painter too–my grandmother.

She dyed her hair red and used yellow washes to make

the canvas brighter. She talked about the black hole

in her brain that ate memories. Later I learned

it was martinis. I’m beginning to notice a pattern.

The sky on a sunny day but not on a cloudy one. Sapphires

except not all of them. Did you know that sapphires

come in every color except red? Red sapphires are called rubies.”

 

Get the book/Find Out About Future Readings

You can order Red List Blue here.

Lizzy will be reading Friday night at the Writing & Publishing Reading Series (here) along with current Assistant Director Shin Yu Pai, visiting faculty Tim Horvath, and visiting writer Prageeta Sharma.

You can find out about Lizzy’s other readings here.

 

 

 

 

 

A New Home for New MFA in Writing & Publishing Students feat. Literary Readings & Film Screenings

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), two students from the South (Virginia and Georgia),  one from the rust belt state of Pennsylvania, another from Massachusetts, from neighboring counties, and from as far away as Nigeria. We’re  a diverse bunch,  just getting used to Montpelier, to the dorms and the school, and we are beginning to form friendships with fellow writers that could last for the rest of our lives.

There’s plenty besides settling in to keep us busy here at VCFA. There’s classwork, of course, and readings, game nights and even craft nights at Café Anna, the school’s café and coffee house named after VCFA’s own ghost. An open house was held last weekend for prospective students; two films have been screened: Marshawn Lynch: a History by Nonfiction Faculty David Shields about Oakland, CA football player Marshawn Lynch, and Arming Sisters, a poignant and powerful documentary by VCFA alum Brian Heck about indigenous women and the battle against sexual abuse and violence in the Northern Plains. See this movie if you ever get the chance!

One

of the things that most delights me about VCFA is the immersion into all things writing. Coming from a commuter school in California, I rarely got a chance to spend time with fellow writers. (I usually had to forego events and readings due to my long drive home). Not so here.  Living on campus surrounded by fellow students is inspiring. We haven’t yet begun our discussions of what we’re each working on, but we have been telling each other what we’re reading.

One student told me her synopsis of Goldfinch, which I notice is playing in movie form at the Capitol Showplace downtown. Another told me that he’s reading faculty member David Shields’s book. David Shields wasfeatured at the first of the years reading series held at Café Anna on 9/11. He ended the night with bits of humorous wisdom—vignettes that had us in hysterics, including one in which he listed what he had in common with George W. Bush (I wish now that I would’ve been able to take his class this semester. Oh well, maybe next semester).

 

 

 

 

 

The reading began with our Nonfiction Faculty Frances Cannon who read poems from her book Uranian Fruit.

Bookended by these two was our Director of Writing & Publishing Rita Banerjee. She read, appropriately for the date, an excerpt from “Birth of Cool,” an essay published in the Power & Silence Issue of Hunger Mountain, which explores her familial connection to the Twin Towers and of witnessing them fall on that fateful day.  Quite a compelling way to spend the eighteenth anniversary of that event.

We’re now a bit more than a month into the semester, the first module has ended and the second will end soon, our semester long classes are rolling along, we are all getting more and more used to Vermont and VCFA. As the weather cools to crisp, clear Autumn nights, we students dig into our studies and look forward to everything our new lives have to offer.