Philosophy and a Talking Tree: Peter Hardy on his New Novels

Philosophy and a Talking Tree: Peter Hardy on his New Novels

Nolan Pakulski Contributing Writer

Peter Hardy discusses many difficult topics in his novel trilogy. (Photo courtesy of UMF Staff Page)


    Professor Peter Hardy, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has published a trilogy of novels that explore modern issues, possible futures for mankind, and some of the greater mysteries of life, which all revolve around a talking tree.

  Released on Dec. 1st, 2018, the novels are centered around the existence of the sentient tree named Thorn who lives on Blueberry Hill and the two main protagonists, Paxton and his friend Tucker. The series takes place over the course of two weeks in 1999, just before the turn of the millenium. During this time, Paxton and Tucker speak with the ancient, hundred year old tree, and cover all kinds of topics.

    The genre would be “mind, body spirit,” Hardy said. The novels go into new problems such as climate change and its eminence in modern society and the very near future. The protagonists discussion doesn’t end there, however, as they also grapple with ancient questions regarding death, God, and reincarnation. The three beings that gather at the top of Blueberry Hill are all related some way as they explore what their pasts lives were.

   Hardy expressed that by exploring their pasts, they might be able to figure out possible futures and how they can try to save the world. Each chapter of the novels start with a poem that the meaning of will be discerned through reading the chapter. Hardy did try to incorporate his works into one of the courses he teaches, but he said that “it’s hard to teach out of your own book,” because students are reluctant to really discuss it. But Hardy says, “If you’re thinking, I’m doing my job.”

    The idea for the novels began while Professor Hardy was in college. “It’s been something percolating since college” Hardy said. The novels draw their inspiration from the real world and contemplated “the Buddhist idea that all life is sentient.” The idea “percolated for ten years” were first thought of by Hardy while he and friend went hiking in college. On these hikes Hardy said, “around 1995 [ I ] put pen to paper”. Hardy says it took around 20 years to finish the original book which was around 1000 pages. Hardy then broke it up into three different books.

   The novels are unique in many respects. The physical books themselves have original art on the covers, done by Hardy’s daughter Zoe. The novels are also unique for their multimedia experience as each novel in the trilogy has a corresponding CD of original music to to accompany it. When purchasing the music, Hardy says it’s better not to buy online.

   Professor Hardy has also, very recently, finished the first book in a new trilogy called The Square. The Square takes place in a dystopian future in which The Wall has been built and the rise of a far right society known as The Republic. The Wall in the universe of the The Square has a section off portion of Texas where immigrants and people associated with liberalism go that it called The Square. The plot in The Square sees Paxton and Tucker attempting to escape The Square with a prophet who can save mankind. They will also see what The Republic is really like. As of yet there is no release date for this new segment of the Thorn universe.

   Hardy’s books are currently available at Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in downtown Farmington, the University store, the Barnes and Noble website, and

“Rough Drafts” Exhibits Art Faculty Works in Progress

“Rough Drafts” Exhibits Art Faculty Works in Progress

By Nicole Stewart, Staff Reporter

UMF Division of the Arts is featuring the exhibition “Rough Drafts,” a special art event dedicated to show off art from all of the UMF Art faculty.

   The professors featured in the show include Ann Bartges, Tom Jessen, Dawn Nye, Elizabeth Olbert, Jesse Potts, Katrazyna Randall, and Barbara Sullivan. The show offers multiple forms of art, ranging from sculptures, drawings, paintings, and animations. The show is a way to bring the community together to see what the different art styles that th

Nye utilizes color among other techniques to depict subtle differences in society (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

e Art faculty have, as well as offer different perspectives of the modern world

   Dawn Nye, one of the professors involved with “Rough Drafts,” has her artwork on display. In an email interview, Nye reflected on favorite parts of the gallery. “I think this exhibit shows the diversity in our faculty, which makes me proud,” said Nye. “We are such a small institution, and we’re lucky to have such great people teaching here.”

  Nye has two different pieces in the UMF Gallery. “The first is an animation called ‘Daydream Narcolepsy.’ This short deals with ideas of escape and distraction. The second piece is a hand painted woodblock series called ‘Public.’ This piece deals with divisions in our society–though not in a direct way,” Nye said.

   According to Nye, the preparation began a few weeks prior to the opening. The Art department have been working to set up in the Flex Space and UMF Art Gallery. Nye mentioned how the gallery also helps the professors who are involved. “All of our faculty are working artists. Exhibiting and working in studio not only help us to develop our careers, it also helps us to become better teachers.”

   The professors worked hard to complete this project, and Nye noted her favorite pieces among the others who are involved with the gallery. “One of my favorite moments is in the Flex Space at the Emery Arts Center, where Jesse Potts’ and Katrazyna Randall’s pieces are in view together. They have such different aesthetics, but somehow they seem to connect to each other,” said Nye.

   On opening night, both

Jesse Potts’s Arc and Katrazyna Randall’s piece interact in subtle ways in the Flex Space
(Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

UMF students and the general public came to the show. The gallery had a wide arrangement of displays from projections to sculptures on the wall. The entire studio was filled from the first floor to the second floor in the art gallery on campus. In Emery, the displays featured portraits and sculptures done by the faculty involved.

   For those who are interested, Rough Drafts is being presented in Emery Community Arts Center Flex Space and the Art Gallery. The show is open on Tuesdays through Sundays from 12PM-4PM until March 9th. Students and faculty can visit the website at

Faculty Share their ‘Rough Drafts’ in UMF Gallery

Faculty Share their ‘Rough Drafts’ in UMF Gallery

By Kristen Hill Contributing Writer


UMF Art faculty are working together to show the art they create outside of the classroom in a show called “Rough Drafts”, which will display their different perspectives about the contemporary world.

‘Scrap and Mire’ Small objects teeter on the edges of their ledges in Katrazyna Randall’s piece. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   Artists in the show include professors Ann Bartges, Tom Jessen, Dawn Nye, Elizabeth Olbert, Jesse Potts, Katrazyna Randall and Barbara Sullivan. A variety of paintings, drawings and sculptures are currently on display in the Emery Community Arts Center as well as the UMF Art Gallery.

   Elizabeth Olbert created a piece called “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Bird to Man.” She says the piece is “a play on Friedrich Engles’ The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, an important Marxist text from 1876.”

   Olbert uses a surrealist technique called soufflage where paint is blown to reveal an image. Rather than using paint, Olbert decided to use coffee on the piece. “You know me, I love coffee, it had to be a part of my piece,” Olbert said. She will be displaying three drawings that include this technique.

   The inspiration for this piece came from fellow artist and professor Katrazyna Randall. “I have been talking with Kate about nature and design for probably two years now,” Olbert said.

   Randall’s piece uses a surrealist perspective on consumerism and its effect on our environment. The piece is made with dull, everyday objects to represent flora and fauna, creating an emphasis on the impact we have on our environment and how a lot of nature is becoming a thing of the past. Randall’s love for painting landscapes and nature shows how nature has become unimportant and is losing meaning to many people. In Randall’s view, nature has to be nurtured and the piece shows neglect along with the rise in consumerism and plastic.

‘Nasty Maine Women Artists’ Barbara Sullivan’s tribute to Maine woman artists. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   Jesse Potts, another member of the Art faculty, combines sculpture and photos in his installation. Potts built the piece inside the gallery, which entailed a lot of labor. Power tools, hammers and many other building supplies were used. Not only were these tools used to put the piece together, they are included as a part of the sculpture.

   Potts wanted to emphasize different perspectives on what home means to people. Potts’ piece is created in a way such that people from different backgrounds can connect to the piece and think about what home means to them.

   Barbara Sullivan gained inspiration for a series of portraits when President Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” Sullivan used oil paints to create portraits of more than fifty Maine women who are “strong and nasty women.” Sullivan knows all of the women personally and wanted to portray how powerful they are, as well as their commitment to their art and writing.

‘Arc’ The aluminum arc by Pott’s towers over viewers. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   All of the artists in this show create art regularly and each installment will add a different feel to the show.  Olbert said, “The artists for this show are well chosen. It is a very eclectic group so there will be a wide variety of pieces. At such a small school you would expect people to be fairly similar, but we are lucky to have such a unique group of artists.”

   Many students only know their teachers through what is taught in their classes.  This exhibition provides students an opportunity to see their teacher’s abilities in a different light.

   The show is located in both the Emery Community Art Center and the UMF art gallery and is open until March 9. It is free and open to the public throughout this time.

WUMF and Mantor Produce “Heavy Meta” Podcasts Featuring UMF Professors

WUMF and Mantor Produce “Heavy Meta” Podcasts Featuring UMF Professors

By Sofia Vanoli, Contributing Writer

English professor Peter Hardy discusses his book "Thorn: The All" during his "Heavy Meta" podcast interview. (Photo Courtesy of Google Books)

English professor Peter Hardy discusses his book “Thorn: The All” during his “Heavy Meta” podcast interview. (Photo Courtesy of Google Books)

Mantor Library is currently working in conjunction with WUMF to produce podcasts under the moniker “Heavy Meta,” which feature UMF professors discussing their recent books and publications.

“We discuss current events, interview UMF authors, and talk about what’s happening at the library,” said Bryce Cundick, Manager of Instructional and Research Services. He continued explaining that the shows run about 30 minutes each.

Cundick and Kelly Boivin, Information and User Services at Mantor Library, have been working on the radio live shows since last year, but due to schedule and timing conflicts, they decided to podcast the shows instead.

Some of the topics they’ve already covered are bullying and favorite book series.  So far Cundick and Boivin have interviewed professors of mathematics Peter Hardy and Paul Gies, and professors of English, Michael Johnson and Luann Yetter.

Hardy was one of the volunteers to be interviewed. He talked very proudly about the last book of his trilogy, “Thorn: The All.” He said he had a positive experience and commented that, “It is important to spread the word about our publications.”

The shows are meant to inform the audience about what is going on at the library, but they are also meant to entertain with talks and discussions.

“I hope these shows will inspire people to write,” said Hardy.

Professor Johnson has also stepped up and shared his views on his book “Hoo-Doo Cowboys and Bronze Buckaroos: Conceptions of the African American West.”

Andrew Martin, a junior majoring in psychology and the WUMF Station Manager, works together with Cundick and Boivin to carry out this project.

“I meet with Bryce and Kelly on a weekly basis and I record their show, then edit out any mistakes, and edit it to improve sound quality,” said Martin who seemed very passionate about his job at WUMF.

“This has been my favorite project because we get involved with the community and the other staff members here by offering them the chance to come and do an interview on the show,” said Martin. “Also it is a lot of fun to do. Bryce and Kelly are very enthusiastic and love what they do and make it really entertaining.”

The whole team is looking forward to hosting more people who wish to talk about their publications (books, poems, articles) and their writing styles. They revealed that one of the upcoming topics they will be dealing with is the timely issue of fake news.

“Heavy Meta” podcasts are now available on iTunes.