By Andrea Swiedom Contributing Writer
Dale Rappaneau and Emily Marquis, the two editors in charge of this year’s Sandy River Review, are on a mission to promote art and writing submissions from all UMF students for the 39th v
Dale Rappananeau and Emily Marquis are this year’s Sandy River Review Editors. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Swiedom)
Creative Writing majors at UMF are often reminded by their professors to submit to The Sandy River, but there has been little to no outreach to promote submissions amongst the rest of the students on campus.
The Sandy River Literary Journal was established in 1982 and is published once a year by two of UMF’s Creative Writing interns. Though the journal is overseen by Alice James Books, the interns have complete control over submissions.
“We don’t just publish UMF work. Right now, we have submissions from Hawaii, one from the Netherlands and one from Arkansas,” said Rappaneau.
Marquis expressed the desire for Sandy River editors to be more visible so that they can encourage all students, regardless of their major, to submit their work. “That’s why we set up the table in the student center trying to get submissions from people who aren’t creative writing majors who still like to write,” said Marquis.
Not only are the editors looking for a broader pool of UMF students to choose work from, but they are also hoping to see a diverse spread of genres.
A genre the editors would like to see is one that explores the self. “We were talking about how maybe we would want to break [The Sandy River] into sections like, personal or family-wise or community-wise and break up the pieces according to that,” explained Marquis.
Rappaneau expressed his desire to see more science-fiction and fantasy submissions. “I don’t think we could turn the magazine into strictly dystopian sci-fi all of a sudden,” said Rappaneau. He hopes his selection process for the journal will showcase genres that haven’t been represented in past anthologies.
As long as the editors uphold The Sandy River’s tradition of showcasing contemporary writing, they have the freedom to design the journal however they want, within reason.
The editors are also hoping to see a large variety of art mediums submitted to the journal this year. “Previously they [former editors] would accept photography, art, mixed media. We would like to see a lot of illustrations in this anthology,” said Rappaneau.
Adding illustrations will help make this anthology stand out from past volumes, but so will the vision for the cover design. The editors are holding a contest exclusively for UMF students to submit their art work for this volume’s cover.
To make the submission process less nerve-wrecking, students can attend the Writer’s Guild, a writing club that meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. on the third floor of the Creative Writing House. When attended regularly, the club is an ideal place to prepare pieces for submission.
Annie Moloney, who is currently the Writing Guild President, initially had her work rejected for the The Sandy River, but she received a letter from the editor encouraging her to continue working on the piece and to re-submit it.
“I brought it to Guild and I had a really good workshop there,” said Moloney, “and I eventually kind of changed the format of it from a piece of flash fiction into a monologue which was my first experience writing dramatic work.” Moloney re-submitted her edited piece, “Until It Does,” and had it published in the 36th volume of the literary journal.
The Sandy River is accepting art and writing submissions until Dec. 7 and the 39th volume will be published in May 2019. Submission guidelines can be found online at https://sandyriverreview.com.
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 email@example.com or go to wordportland.weebly.com for more information.
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.”
By Dale J Rappaneau, Jr. Contributing Writer
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) recently concluded their annual conference, held this year in the sunny city of Tampa, Florida.
As has been the tradition for years, more than a dozen UMF Creative Writing majors traveled by car, bus, and plane to attend this national conference, in hopes of gleaning information from prominent writing figures in the industry. Many of these students had their entire trip covered by the school through a funding program run by the UMF Writers Guild.
“This was my first year attending the conference,” said Zoe Stonetree, a sophomore Creative Writing student minoring in Physics. “I went w
UMF Creative Writing Majors in Tampa, Florida for this years AWP. (Photo by Alexandria Dupuis)
ith the Writers Guild, so of course it was all free.”
The conference featured such prominent writers as George Saunders, Kaveh Akbar, and Layli Long Soldier. The conference is structured around hourly panel discussions on such topics as diversity, craft and MFA programs, and attendees have the freedom to attend as many panels as their schedule can fit.
Each year, the Writers Guild picks members to send to AWP with all costs covered, thus allowing students to experience the greater writing community. The criteria for selection—which is “very casual,” according to Stonetree—involves attending the Writers Guild’s weekly 7 p.m. meetings on Mondays.
“They select people who have been coming consistently for over a year,” said Stonetree. “Most people go to AWP twice if they are consistent members, some people go three times, but generally they max people out at two.”
For UMF students, the ability to learn from the writing community at large provides a wealth of opportunities unavailable in their everyday classroom.
“It was a wonderful way to get outside this tiny little UMF community,” said Michaela Zelie, a senior Creative Writing major who also attended AWP for the first time this year. “Our campus community is wonderful and supportive, but it is small. To go out to meet other writers, some very successful, it’s a huge benefit.”
Stonetree echoed these sentiments: “I went to a panel called something like ‘Dreamwork of Poetry,’ which was really cool. They talked about the connection between dreams and the archetypes of the unconscious, and how it can be applied to poetry. It’s something I have been interested in, and it was really cool to hear them talk about it.”
According to Zelie, she only learned about the Writers Guild’s funding program during her junior year, and she regrets not having learned about it sooner. “I highly recommend students take advantage of these programs,” she said. “I didn’t know about Writers Guild until last year, and students should get involved, they should do these things, even if you think it’s a little scary. It was amazing to be at AWP and be surrounded by so many successful people.”
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs boasts approximately 12,000 attendees each year, along with 2,000 presenters, 550 panels, and 800 literary organizations from around the world. It is the largest literary conference in North America, and next year it will be held from March 27 to 30 in Portland, Oregon.