UMF Alums Seek New Owners of Monthly Reading Event

By Dale J Rappaneau Jr. Contributing Writer

After six years of hosting the curated monthly reading series known as Word Portland, UMF alums Danielle LeBlanc and Emily Jane Young are retiring as curators and seeking to pass ownership of the reading series to a new two-person team.

   “It has been a gradual coming to terms that it’s time to move aside and let other voices have some space curating this series,” said LeBlanc in an email interview.

   The Portland-based reading series has been held on the first Monday of every month since its inception in 2012, always beginning at 9 p.m., and has continuously featured a curated selection of award-winning local and regional writers reading their work before a live audience at LFK, a bar and restaurant on Portland’s Congress Street. Anyone could email their work to Word Portland, then LeBlanc and Young make the final decision as to which three writers would be invited to read at the event.

   “Emily and I started this six years ago, and at that point, a 9 p.m. event on a school night was totally our speed,” wrote LeBlanc. “But now, with the lives we’ve built around Word Portland, it’s a lot harder to support the schedule, no matter how much we love the event, which is a whole lot.”

   Rather than close the doors on the entire reading series, the duo are accepting applications for a new two-person team to take on the roles of event hosts and curators. “Being both cis, white women, we have learned a lot about how we might unintentionally be taking up some artistic space that could be owed to other voices,” wrote LeBlanc. “We’ve made mistakes here too, and we are hoping that new eyes could help make this space an inspiring one for many years to come.”

   At the time of writing, LeBlanc and Young are still in search for candidates to take over the event. Their ideal candidate would have the following qualities: “A special interest, if not a background, in creative writing. Passionate about local arts and events. The time and energy to put into said passion. Patience and compassion when communicating with potential readers.”

   They also claim to provide “extra points” for candidates “already connected with any of Portland’s wealth of artistic communities.”

   LeBlanc and Young met while attending UMF as Creative Writing majors, and they credit their experience in the school’s creative writing program as foundational for their artistic careers. “The workshop model I think is still one of the best teaching strategies for any kind of writing,” wrote LeBlanc. “I made such close friends through my BFA classes, including Emily, and we were treated like artists and equals. It was very empowering at a young age, and I think that gave us the confidence to think that our artistic ambitions were meaningful.”

   Individuals interested in applying for the position(s) of curators for Word Portland can send their applications to or go to for more information.

Androscoggin Home Care Hospice Walk

By Richard Southard Contributing Writer

Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice will be holding their annual Hospice 5K and Remembrance Walk on May 5. The event is fundraising to support low-cost hospice care for people of all ages in Maine communities, and will be one of two annual events put on by the organization.

  Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice is a non-profit organization that has been putting on this event for several years, and has been raising funds for over fifty years. The last hospice 5K helped to raise more than $1.3 million dollars in free patient care.

   Katie Kassidy, a member of the planning board for the event, is trying to set an even higher mark for this years race. “We need help to make that number even larger this year,” Kassidy said in an email interview, “so that all patients are cared for, including end-of-life care at the Hospice house.” Currently, the event has raised more than thirty-five thousand dollars.

   To Kassidy, the 5K is a significant service to the community. “The importance of Hospice Care in our community is huge,” Kassidy said. “Caring for the patient and families during the final months of life can make the experience more pleasant in whatever area you may need support.” For terminally or chronically ill patients, hospice care helps provide pain and symptom management, medical care, counseling for patients and families, and more.

   While hospice care can be expensive, the event is aimed at helping mitigate those costs for future patients. “The event helps to provide top of the line care at minimal to no costs for families who need it,” Kassidy said.

   For teams that register, each fundraising milestone gives an example for the care they are providing. For example, if someone raised $250 dollars, that money will provide supportive patient therapy, and raising $1000 provides a full day of care for an uninsured patient.

   Kassidy has experienced hospice care first hand and is devoted to helping the cause. “Personally, the Hospice House provided end of life care for my great-grandfather and most recently, my nana,” Kassidy said. “Not only did she receive the best care my entire family could imagine, they cared for all of us as though we were patients as well, whether we needed an extra blanket to sleep on the couch or warm hugs.”

   The event this year will be taking place at the district court parking lot. Registration will open at 7:30 a.m., and the race will begin at 9 a.m.

Senior Art Majors Present Capstone Projects in Art Show

Senior Art Majors Present Capstone Projects in Art Show

Eric Berry proudly stands with his installation “Caddywhompus Ho-Hum Handsomeness” at Feints opening night. (Photo by Sarah Lamb)

By Sara Lamb Contributing Writer

 Senior Art majors at UMF are showcasing their final capstone projects in a group show titled “Feint” in both the Emery Arts Center and the UMF Art Gallery. Feint is a group project with contributions from six UMF seniors: Eric Berry, Samuel Burnell, Nicholas Cole, Elliott Eno, Cameron Morrell and Olivia Vanner.

   The meaning behind the title came from the word’s definition: to deceive. The artists are deceiving cultural restraints through its various themes. The show explores topics such as labor, cultural norms, media and memory through the artist’s different points of views and experiences.

   Capstone is a final accumulation of all the work and knowledge that one has consumed over their four years at UMF. It is a year-long course that is required to graduate and is found in all majors on campus with slight variations for the different degree programs.

   Eric Berry, a senior, has wanted to pursue a career in art since high school. Berry said in an online interview, “I would consider myself a sculptor but I do love adding color to my work, whether it is painting or using the color of the original material.”

Senior Olivia Vanner Experimented with 2D animation. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   Berry has installed his work in the two locations, and continues to tweak and modify the pieces to improve them. All of Berry’s pieces have been worked on since this past fall. “One of my most reoccurring themes is exploring labor through rural objects. Each piece does have multiple themes underlining that idea,” Berry said.

   Berry encourages everyone who goes to the exhibits to take a booklet created by each artist that goes into more detail about their work.

   Cameron Morrell, another Senior Art major, said in an email interview that his favorite art to work with is installations and digital compositions/collages. “I like to create pieces that have a sensory impact so they engage more th

One of Morrell’s installations, “Rebuild & Continue.” (Photo by Keely McConomy)

an just the eye. Something that puts the body into perspective with either size or with sound or smell or a feeling,” Morrell said.

   Most of Morrell’s pieces in the show involve multiple senses, such as the breeze of a fan or the smell of citrus fruit. In addition to the pieces they had to create, artists needed to write a thesis about their work. For Morrell, this was the most challenging part. “It’s incredibly difficult to try and explain in words what our art is doing and where it’s coming from,” Morrell said.

   President Foster, who attended the event, said, “there is nothing more inspiring than seeing the culmination of a person’s thought process and I am awed by and blown away by the talent and the diligence the creativity and the brilliance of the work that I see from the seniors.”

   President Foster continued, saying that she sees talent illuminate from the seniors every year, but this year’s art capstone seems particularly compelling for her. After speaking to some of the artists about their art, she walked away with a smile on her face.

   The UMF Art Gallery is open for viewings Tuesday through Sunday 12-4 p.m., and t

Morrel’s Digital composition “Windows” in Emery Arts Center. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

he Emery Arts Center is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The artists will uninstall their work on May 13. If you would like to know more information about each artist’s work, they will be participating in artist talks about their work on Symposium Day.

UMF Continues Search for Tenure-Track Creative Writing Professor

By Dale J Rappaneau Jr Contributing Writer

   In response to UMF’s unsuccessful search for a tenure-track Creative Writing professor, Eric Brown, Interim Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, remains confident in the program’s academic strength and ability to find a quality candidate to fill the role.

   “UMF values highly its creative writing program, which continues to draw exceptional students from around the country,” wrote Brown in an email. “While we were unable to hire a tenure-track position for the coming year, we will continue to offer screenwriting courses next fall and spring.”

   Brown’s specific mention of screenwriting stems from the fact that Bill Mesce, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, who currently teaches the screenwriting courses, was among the candidates unsuccessful in securing the tenure-track position. As a result, students have speculated on the state of screenwriting and its place in the creative writing program.

   “Screenwriting is a unique component of the program, offering opportunities for the study of a genre not widely offered elsewhere in the state of Maine,” Brown said. “I regard screenwriting as a potential difference-maker for our program, appealing to students not only as a distinct genre, but as a gateway to further work in the film industry, and I see the coming year as crucial in defining the best way of supporting that at UMF.”

   Jeff Thomson, Professor of Creative Writing, echoes Brown’s sentiments, stating that the creative writing program is the school’s “jewel program” and that screenwriting is an essential part of the program. He added, “Pat [O’Donnell] and I are going to rethink and rework the screenwriting position and do another search in the fall.”

   At the time of writing, screenwriting courses are being offered for the Fall 2018 semester, despite the program’s continued search for a professor to teach those courses. “We don’t have an official contract in place yet so I can’t say for certainty,” wrote Brown, “but, again, the plan going forward is to have staffing for those courses, and I expect we will have it resolved positively in the next week or so.”

   Linda Britt, Chair of the Division of Humanities, rallied behind the creative writing program and saw the unsuccessful tenure-track search as unreflective of the program’s strength and long-lasting academic appeal. “The creative writing program is strong and popular, and it has an excellent reputation in the field,” Britt wrote in an email. “The program will be here for far longer than you or I will.”

   The Fall 2018 screenwriting course, as detailed in the MaineStreet course catalog, will take place every Wednesday, from 3:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the instructor in charge of the course is simply detailed as “Staff.”

Senior Social At The Roost Delivers An Evening of Entertainment

By Nicole Stewart Staff Reporter

When walking along Main Street in downtown Farmington, seniors who opened the door to the Roost were greeted by loud music playing from the DJ, chatty bar-goers, and their fellow classmates for the Senior Social.

   The social was a way for the class of 2018 to relax for the night with their friends by dancing, talking and chowing down on the greasy, yummy bar food. Though the event was held from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., a majority of the class showed up towards the later hours of the Friday night. No matter what time the students showed up, it was a night for relaxation and forgetting about both the worries of school and of what is to come after graduation.

   Michaela Zelie, a senior who attended the event, does not regret going and had a fun evening. “I enjoy spending time with my fellow classmates,” said Zelie. “It’s always fun. I always have a good time.”

   When it came to the planning of the event, the president of the senior class, Sarah Young, admits that putting on a party like this takes a lot of time. In an email interview, Young said, “The class officers and I normally start a month in advance to begin planning our socials. Sometimes, we even start two months in advance. The process is pretty long as we have to obtain contracts from the locations that we are holding the socials at.”

   This was not the first senior social that has been held this year. There have been four socials that have occurred during both semesters. The Roost is where the socials are typically held, but back in February, there was one held at Titcomb Mountain.

   The recent social at the Roost was held on a Friday, instead of a Thursday like the socials usually are. Because of the day change, the Roost could not be shut down and exclusive to the senior class. It was open to the public of Farmington, while community members kept to themselves, seniors mingled with one another. The reason for the change was because the senior class urged for a Friday social so it would be easier to attend.

   Zelie admitted that she enjoys the socials more at the Roost than she did at Titcomb Mountain. “It’s more veritable here [The Roost] than at the Mountain, because it was really overpriced,” Zelie said.

   Another difference in the events was that since the Roost is downtown, it’s closer for students compared to Titcomb Mountain, which is farther away from campus. Also, the Roost offered more choices for students to pick from when it came to their beverages, where as the social at Titcomb only had a few selections.  

   Young believes that attending the socials are a good way for students to connect and relax no matter where the place is. “Ultimately, the conversations I’ve had wind up talking about school work, but that’s really only because our students at UMF are extremely passionate about what they do, and we want to be able to highlight their achievements,” said Young. “As long as you’re 21-years-old, I think that anyone should be able to attend these socials because the friends you make in one night can truly last for a lifetime!”


UMF Track Team Breaks Records At First Meet

UMF Track Team Breaks Records At First Meet

By Emily Thibodeau Contributing Writer

UMF’s Track team is looking forward to a great season as they had a strong first meet at Eastern Connecticut State University. Individuals of the team broke school records, personal records, as well as qualifying for the New England championship.

    The team has had rough training conditions as they have been forced to practice inside due to the snow. The original time for first meet was rescheduled due to weather so the team was like “horses ready to get out of the gate,” according to head coach Dan Campbell.

    Some of the team’s highlights of the first meet include Olivia Ridley’s new personal best that also broke the school’s record for the 5000 meter race with a time of 18 minutes and 37 seconds. Laura Pulito qualified for New Englands in the 800 meter race, while Shane Hathaway and Corey Martin missed the qualifying time for New Englands by just over a second.

The track team engaging in fund raising off the track. (Photo by Cameron Eggerman)

   Ethan Solis, a first-year student also broke a school record at the first meet in the 200 meter race. This will be Solis’s fourth year doing track.

   “To be honest it’s amazing having that feeling of beating a personal record,” Solis said. “But when it comes to a school record, it’s just an overwhelming experience.”

   First-year student Abshir Abukar has been doing track for seven years and feels “pretty confident” about the upcoming season. Abukar got a new personal record in the 400 meter race at the first meet. Abukar said his goal is “to break 50 seconds in the 400 meter race” this season.

   The first meet ended with rough conditions when it started to rain during the last events. Solis said, “My shoe came untied at the start of my last race, it took forever to tie because my hands were shivering from the cold.” Abukar wasn’t bothered by the rain, saying, “It was cold but halfway through the race I stopped feeling everything because I was focused on beating the other guy.”

   The UMF track team has been part of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) for the past three years. Campbell has been coaching the team during the past three years and is looking forward to building the team. This year the team has grown to 36 members with lots of promising freshmen.

     The team has high hopes for this year, as they believe they have a chance to compete well against other teams. Campbell said as long as there are no injuries or sickness he believes that the Men’s team could place second for the second year, and Women could place third or fourth overall for their conference. Campbell said he is expecting to see stronger individual and relay results this season.

     Abukar confidently said, “We’re gonna win NACs.” Solis agreed with Coach Campbell and said, “Our relays have a good chance of going to New Englands. I just hope that I can help my team when it comes to the NAC Championship because that is when it matters the most.”

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