Melanie Finn

Interview: Miciah Bay Gault

We’re so excited to share our interview with Miciah Bay Gault on the occasion of today’s release of her debut novel, Goodnight Stranger. Goodnight Stranger is a beautifully written novel, a literary thriller that will have you wondering from the start who is telling the truth and who is hiding secrets. Set on an island, it’s the perfect summer escapism novel, perfect to take with you to the beach, but equally satisfying if you’re holidaying on your sofa after a long week of work.

Of Goodnight Stranger, George Saunders says, “Somewhere the ghosts of Shirley Jackson and the Henry James of The Turn of the Screw are smiling, because a wildly talented young writer has joined their lineage. What a taut, keenly intelligent, and provocative debut Goodnight Stranger is.”

Thank you so much, Miciah, for answering our questions so thoughtfully. We’re so happy your book is out in the world!

Miciah teaches in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and coordinates the Vermont Book Award. She’ll be celebrating her book’s at launch Bear Pond Books this evening (July 30), and will be reading at several Northern New England locations in the coming months, including Gibson’s Bookstore (August 1), Northshire Books (August 10), The Galaxy Bookshop (August 27), Phoenix Bookstore (September 19), and Vermont College of Fine Arts (September 27).


Literary North: We’re always curious how a story begins and how it changes. Did the story in Goodnight Stranger begin with a specific image or idea? How did you find the plot changing as you wrote? Did anything unexpected arise?

Miciah Bay Gault: I read a personal history in The New Yorker years ago—about one couple’s struggle with infertility, which has nothing in the world to do with Goodnight Stranger. In The New Yorker piece the couple kept losing the pregnancies, over and over. They ended up, after years of hope and heartache, with one daughter, and I found myself wondering about the daughter. Did she, as she got older, think about the brothers and sisters she might have had, did she feel a sense of grief, was she haunted by them?

Then I imagined this image: two grown siblings in a doorway, a stranger facing them across the threshold. The air is charged with surprise, with recognition, hope, and danger. One of the siblings says, “It’s him.”

That premise was the starting point. I knew early on that Lydia and Lucas would by the siblings, twins actually, that they’d be in their late 20s, that their lives would be overshadowed by the death of a third sibling in infancy. I knew a stranger was going to show up, someone handsome and charismatic, and also eerily familiar with their home, their family. From there I had to ask myself all kinds of hard questions to find out what the book was really about.

LN: Let’s talk about your writing process. Do you write a messy first draft or do you tend to go sentence by sentence? How many drafts did you go through while writing this book? Are you the type of writer who works at the same time and place every day, or did you have to grab time whenever and wherever you could?

MBG: I’m laughing as I answer this question. I’m pretty sure I wrote 70 or 80 drafts of this novel over fifteen years. Some drafts were major renovations, removing entire characters, and shuffling chapters from one location to another. Some drafts were more concerned with tightening language. I love sentences and spend an inordinate amount of time working on that level, polishing, carving, chiseling.

I’ve been so lucky to have an agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Union Literary, who’s very hands on and who worked on several drafts with me. And my editor Laura Brown at Park Row Books/ HarperCollins, has an amazing editorial eye. After so many years of working alone on the manuscript, it’s been a dream to have a team working with me on the book.

I prefer to write in the morning, riding that first wave of caffeine. I’m very fond of coffee. Sometimes I still manage to write at this time, if my kids sleep in a little, but mostly I write when I can—when the kids are in school, or napping. When I was working full time at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I wrote during lunch breaks, or first thing in the morning on the picnic tables on the college green.

LN: The character Cole is an outsider. He arrives on the island and then insinuates himself into the lives of Lydia and others who grew up on the island. Can you talk a bit about the role of the outsider in your story?

MBG: Writers love to quote John Gardner (although I’ve never actually found the original quote) that there are only two plot variations in fiction: a man goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. Obviously, in Goodnight Stranger, I was interested in the latter. I knew I wanted Lydia and Lucas to have a safe, prescribed life, routines that were interrupted by the arrival of the stranger. I wanted Lydia to see herself through the stranger’s eyes. In many ways Goodnight Stranger is the story of siblings who, so mired in grief and longing for the past, never grew up. They’re frozen in time, in a kind of adolescent limbo. Lydia realizes at one point that they’ve never moved the furniture around in their house, never replaced wine glasses that broke decades ago. Baby B is the sibling who died in infancy almost thirty years ago, and his bedroom is still set up for a baby, with teddy bear knobs on the dresser. Cole, the stranger, challenges all their beliefs, everything they thought was true about their family, and ultimately…unsticks time for Lydia and Lucas.

LN: Have you always been an avid fan of literary suspense? Can you share some of your favorite authors—past or present—in the genre?

MBG: I wouldn’t actually say that I’m a fan of literary suspense, and to be honest I’m more than a little surprised that I ended up writing a literary thriller!

I do like page-turners, but that term can be subjective. I consider Pride and Prejudice a page-turner (and I know how it ends because I’ve read it a dozen times!). That said, I’m a devoted fan of Shirley Jackson, whose sentences are exquisite, and whose horror is rich and intricate. Another favorite author is Wilkie Collins, who I would classify as literary suspense.

I respond to books with beautiful sentences and a strong emotional core, and sometimes those books happen to be literary thrillers. Fiction I’ve loved lately include Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me, Melanie Finn’s The Underneath, and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

LN: What was the most memorable thing you read in the past month?

MBG: I’m riveted by Christina Thompson’s Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, a nonfiction exploration of how people came to inhabit the Polynesian islands. It’s beautifully written, impeccably structured, and fascinating.

 
Photo by Daryl Burtnett

Photo by Daryl Burtnett

 

The Dipper - November 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

November News

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Want to hear some gorgeous music, listen to two fabulous authors read, take part in a conversation about the writing process, and stuff your face with homemade biscuits? Well then, look no further than our own Writers’ Process Night happening this Saturday, November 3 at Open Door in White River Junction, Vermont.

Join us, Laura Jean Binkley, Camille Guthrie, and Peter Orner, and a mountain of biscuits made by Literary North’s favorite baker and all-around fan, Dr. Hermann Puterschein. Scurry over to the Event page now and claim your seat at the biscuit bar! See you on Saturday!

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Slow Club Book Club members, have you started reading our final book of 2018 yet? If not, please don’t worry; you’re in fantastic company! At least one of your SCBC hosts hasn’t started either. And guess what? That’s just fine. October always seems to be a month when everything hits the fan at once. Between finally waking up from the summer drowsies and suddenly realizing that the end of the year crazies are nigh, this time of year is often overstuffed with deadlines, new projects, school meetings, and making appointments to get winter tires put on. Never fear… Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence will wait patiently for you to dip in as you have time, maybe while waiting for those tires to be changed.

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It always feels a bit awkward to promote one’s own stuff, but if you can’t do it in your own newsletter, where can you? So this is just to say… Rebecca has written a science book about rivers for kids aged 7 to 10, and it's coming out later this month! Rivers and Streams! is part of a set of four “Explore Waterways” books published by the excellent Nomad Press in White River Junction, Vermont. It’s packed with really fun illustrations by the very talented Tom Casteel, and it includes 25 river-related activities. If you have a young person in your life who’s into science—or even one who isn’t yet into science—check out the set, or the many other wonderful non-fiction books for kids that Nomad publishes.

November’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

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  • Tommy Orange’s review of Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah in The New York Times was fantastic. Here’s a snippet:

“Now more than ever I believe fiction can change minds, build empathy by asking readers to walk in others’ shoes, and thereby contribute to real change. In “Friday Black,” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah has written a powerful and important and strange and beautiful collection of stories meant to be read right now, at the end of this year, as we inch ever closer to what feels like an inevitable phenomenal catastrophe or some other kind of radical change, for better or for worse. And when you can’t believe what’s happening in reality, there is no better time to suspend your disbelief and read and trust in a work of fiction—in what it can do.”

—Shari

  • I’m in a bit of a glum mood, what with the current dreary weather and the state of the world and all, so Emily Dickinson’s Patreon page in The New Yorker is giving me a welcome lift as I put the finishing touches on this newsletter. I’ll be scraping my shekels together to afford patronage at $100 a month (“I will tell you which parts of the Bible would be made better with bees. Plus all previous rewards.”) How about you? —Rebecca


November Highlights

On Friday, November 2, at 7:30 pm, GunSense Vermont, the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, and Bear Pond Books present “Bullets Into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence.” This event features Major Jackson, Matthew Olzmann, and Kerrin McCadden and takes place at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, Vermont.

Ed Koren

Ed Koren

You have plenty of opportunities to catch cartoonist Ed Koren in November. He’ll be at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, on Saturday, November 3, at 6:00 pm; at Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont, on Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 pm; at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Friday, November 23, at 12:00 pm for a book signing; and at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, Vermont, on Tuesday, November 27, at 6:00 pm.

On Sunday, November 4, at 3:00 pm, poet Sue Ellen Thompson is giving a lecture on “Marriage, Metaphor, & Mortality: The Poetry of Jane Kenyon” at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vermont. The lecture explores Kenyon’s lifelong struggle with depression and her marriage to fellow poet Donald Hall.

Also on Sunday, November 4, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, will be dedicating the Colony’s Library to James Baldwin, who was a resident at the Colony three times in the 1950s to work on his books. The outdoor ceremony at 11:00 am will be followed by light refreshments.

Eugene Lim will be reading as part of the Cleopatra Mathis Poetry & Prose Reading Series at Dartmouth College’s Sanborn Library, in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, November 6, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.

First Wednesdays, a program of the Vermont Humanities Council, brings DeRay McKesson to Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, on Wednesday, November 7, at 7:00 pm to talk about politics and activism.

Catherine Lacey. Photo by Jesse Ball.

Catherine Lacey. Photo by Jesse Ball.

Catherine Lacey is at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, on Wednesday, November 7, at 7:00 pm, reading from her new short story collection, Certain American States.

On Tuesday, November 13, poet Kevin Goodan reads from his new collection, Anaphora, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire. The reading begins at 5:30 pm.

Jeremy Holt visits Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, November 13, at 7:00 pm for his graphic novel, After Houdini.

Robin MacArthur will be at The Bennington Free Library in Bennington, Vermont, on Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 pm, in support of the paperback release of her fabulous novel, Heart Spring Mountain.

Kim Adrian

Kim Adrian

Poet Sidney Wade will be at the Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington, Vermont, for the Painted Word Poetry Series on Thursday, November 29, at 6:00 pm.

As part of the UNH Writers Series, Kim Adrian, author of the memoir The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet, will be reading at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, New Hampshire, on Thursday, November 29, at 5:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

Edward Carey visits The Odyssey Bookshop in Hadley, Massachusetts, on Thursday, November 8, at 7:00 pm to read from his new novel, Little, about Madam Tussaud. The event is free but registration is requested.

 

Worth a Listen

We're Looking Forward to These November Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire is looking for its next batch of true-life storytellers for its December 13 Mudroom event. The theme is “Holiday Disasters.” Storytellers of all ages and from all towns in the Upper Valley and beyond are welcome to submit their stories for consideration by November 23. In your submission, include a brief summary of the story (no more than 300 words) and a short bio (no more than 150 words). For more information and to submit your story, please visit the AVA Gallery’s Mudroom page.

Marble House Project is a multi-disciplinary artist residency program in Dorset, Vermont, that fosters collaboration and the exchange of ideas by providing an environment for artists across disciplines to live and work side by side. The three-week Artist Residency is open to artists in all creative fields, including but not limited to visual arts, writing, choreography, music composition and performance. Applications for 2019 residencies are open through December 16. The application fee is $32. For more information, please visit the Residency Applications page.

Bloodroot Literary Magazine is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction for their 2019 Digital Edition through December 31. Submission guidelines are available on the Bloodroot website.

The Frost Place is accepting submissions for their annual Chapbook Competition. The competition is open to any poet writing in English. The submission fee is $28. Submissions will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Chapbook Competition page.

Applications are now open for the Dartmouth Poet in Residence program at The Frost Place. This is a six-to-eight-week residency in poet Robert Frost’s former farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire. The residency begins July 1 and ends August 15, and includes an award of $1,000 from The Frost Place and an award of $1,000 from Dartmouth College. The recipient will have an opportunity to give a series of public readings across the region, including at Dartmouth College and The Frost Place. Applications will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Residency page.  

Every summer, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, awards residency Fellowships to artists in seven disciplines, including literature. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. The deadline for the 2019 Summer MacDowell Literature Fellowship is January 15, 2019. The application fee is $30. For more information, please visit the Residency Application page.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Do you have an interview project in mind but don’t quite know where to begin or how to proceed? The Vermont Folklife Center is offering an “Oral History: An Introduction” workshop that can help you move your project forward. The workshop will be held on November 3, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Dorset Historical Society in Dorset, Vermont. Tuition is $95-$50. For more information and to register, please visit the Vermont Folklife Center Workshop page.

The pressure’s on if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, the creative writing project that challenges participants to write a 50,000 word manuscript in November. Take some of that pressure off with the free “NaNoWriMo Expressive Writing” workshop, lead by Joni B. Cole on November 5, at the Norwich Public Library in Norwich, Vermont, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. This workshop invites you to write from a prompt to develop a character….add a plot twist…or discover a scene that’s just been waiting to burst onto the page. For more information, please visit the Writer’s Center of WRJ Workshops page.

Looking for quality instruction, feedback, and inspiration in a beautiful Vermont setting? This half-day retreat on November 10, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, offers all that and more. You’ll have the opportunity to share pages of a new or revised work for personalized feedback, learn tips and techniques to get started and stay motivated, and reap the benefits of gathering within a supportive creative community. Both nervous beginners and seasoned authors are welcome. Tuition is $115 and must be paid in full prior to the retreat. For more information, or to register (required), please visit the Writer’s Center of WRJ Workshops page.

NaNoWriMo too easy? Become a Centurion by earning 100 poetry, essay, or short-story rejections in twelve months. Lead by R. W. W. Greene, this two-hour workshop hosted by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project will “take you through the steps of submitting your work, the mystery of rejectomancy, and the best methods of recuperation from a ‘thanks but no thanks.’” The workshop will be held on November 17, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, at The Ford House on the campus of SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire. $50 for NHWP members; $75 for non-members. For more information, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for the documentation of voices, memories, and histories. It can also be a catalyst for activism and social change. In this “Storytelling for Social Change” workshop—held on December 1, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Saint Albans Museum in Saint Albans, Vermont—we will explore the ethics and techniques of oral history, ethnography, and storytelling as activist research methodologies. Attendees will be invited to take a critical and analytical look at the history of documentary work, and will learn the basics of skills such as interviewing, story circle facilitation, and ethnographic observation. We will also cover the technical aspects of storytelling, providing an introduction to tools for minimal-resource and mobile audio recording. Tuition is $95-$50. For more information or to register, please visit the Vermont Folklife Center Workshop page.

The Dipper - May 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know!

 

May News

We've made it! Unfrozen precipitation is falling all over the brown-turning-green grass. Bulbs are shooting up. Buds are breaking out. Maybe some of you have even taken the snow tires off your car. Let's call it Spring, and with it we have so much wonderfulness to celebrate.

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First of all, our Lady Sings the Blues book group is happening this month, on Tuesday, May 15, at Yankee Bookshop! It's not too late to read the book and join us! We're getting excited for some great conversation, a little Billie Holiday music, and some freshly baked refreshments. For full details, head over to the LN Events page.

Whether or not you can attend the Lady Sings the Blues book group, you won't want to miss seeing JAG Productions' Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at The Engine Room in White River Junction, Vermont, May 24 to 27 (also in Pomfret and Burlington late May through early June). If you attended JAGfest or any other JAG shows, you already have an inkling of how great this show will be. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the JAG Productions website.

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A couple weeks ago, we had the chance to interview YA writer Jo Knowles and comic maker Tillie Walden about their 2018 summer workshop, "Creating Graphic Novels for the YA Market," at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Individually, Jo and Tillie are smart, creative, articulate, and fun people. Together, they form a dynamic duo of graphic novel power! Read the interview, and then sign up for their workshop!

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Finally, we are beyond thrilled to announce Poetry & Pie II!

It's happening Saturday, July 21, at 3:00 pm, at Sweetland Farm in Norwich, Vermont. Wonderful poets Didi Jackson, Julia Shipley, and Ocean Vuong will be there, reading poems and eating pie. We'd love you to be there, too! We'll have an open mic, lots of great conversation, pie, pie, and more pie. For details and to RSVP, visit the LN Events page.

 

May's Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

  • Our friend James Crews is teaching an online Mindfulness and Writing workshop from May 5 to June 2. If you made it to Poetry & Pie last July, you already know how wonderful James is. There will be exercises/prompts, videos, readings, and the opportunity for a phone consult at the end of the course. All levels are welcome. —Shari
     
  • The first sestina I fell for is Elizabeth Bishop's, but I've never attempted writing my own—yet. If you're like me and need a little help, local writer and all-around wonderful human Rena Mosteirin has created a little software tool that generates the correct order for your selected end words. As she notes, the source code for the program is itself a sestina. ♥—Rebecca

May Highlights

Morgan Parker. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Morgan Parker. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Natalie Shapero and Morgan Parker read from their poetry collections at Bennington College on Wednesday, May 2 at 7:00 pm.

The Bloodroot Literary Magazine launch party for Issue 10 is happening at Left Bank Books in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Friday, May 4, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Hannah Howard will read from Feast, followed by an open mic for all Upper Valley writers.

Bianca Stone. Photo by Hillery Stone

Bianca Stone. Photo by Hillery Stone

Waking Windows hosts the Page Burner Reading Series in Winooski, Vermont, on Saturday, May 5 at various locations beginning at noon. Authors include James Crews, Jessica Hendry Nelson, Annie DeWitt, and Bianca Stone.

A new season of Talk of the Porch begins on Monday, May 7 and will continue most Mondays in May, June, and August. Based at the Craftsbury Public Library in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, and led by Vermont writers Stark Biddle and Julia Shipley, Talk of the Porch is a slightly irreverent but totally intense reading/discussion group focused on fiction in The New Yorker. Copies of the week's stories are available at the library starting the Wednesday before each meeting.

Poet Joshua Bennett will read at Dartmouth College's Sanborn Library in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, May 10 at 4:30 pm and then award the Dartmouth Creative Writing Prize.

Bernd Heinrich is reading from his new collection, A Naturalist at Large, at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Friday, May 11 at 7:00 pm.

Local author Melanie Finn will be at The Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:00 pm to launch her new novel, The Underneath.

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Ross Gay

You'll be able to catch poet Ross Gay at two Vermont venues this month: Wednesday, May 16 at Bennington College, and Thursday, May 17 at Vermont Studio Center. We are very much looking forward to his new book of essays coming in 2019.

The 2018 Hyla Brook Reading Series begins on Thursday, May 17 at 6:30 pm with poet David Davis. The series' readings take place May through September at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire.

Poets April Ossman and Cynthia Huntington will be reading at Phoenix Books in Rutland, Vermont, on Thursday, May 31 at 6:30 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

Rachel Kushner will be at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 pm to read from her new novel, The Mars Room.

If you missed Bruce Kennett's terrific talk about designer and renaissance man W. A. Dwiggins at Left Bank Books in April, you have an opportunity to catch him at Hingham Public Library in Hingham, Massachusetts, on Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 pm.

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The 10th Massachusetts Poetry Festival is taking place from Friday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6 in various venues around Salem, Massachusetts. This year's festival features Sonia Sanchez, Kaveh Akbar, Duy Doan, Jeffrey Harrison, Dorianne Laux, Erika Meitner, Carl Phillips, Nicole Sealey, Sean Thomas Dougherty, and Rhina P. Espaillat.

Charles Simic—poet, essayist, and translator—is the featured guest at the Kittery Art Association's annual Mangion Memorial Poetry Celebration on Saturday, May 5, beginning with an interview and craft talk from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, followed by a reading, reception, and book signing beginning at 7:00 pm. The events will be held at the First Congregational Church in Kittery Point, Maine.

 

Worth a Listen

Michelle Dean speaks about her new book, Sharp, and her early career on the Longform podcast.

Take a listen to Alexander Chee on the Fail Safe podcast and you'll quickly see how lucky we are to have Alex at Dartmouth. Make sure you mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 9, when he'll be reading at The Norwich Bookstore.

 

We're Looking Forward to These May Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Frost Place 2018 Conference on Poetry and Teaching (June 23 to 26) and Writing Intensive (June 27 to 28) is now accepting applications. The conference application deadline is May 17. The application fee is $25. Tuition is $725. Meals are $145. The Writing Intensive is $180. For more information and to apply, please visit the Conference page.

The Frost Place Conference on Poetry (July 8 to 14) is also accepting applications. The conference application deadline is May 31. The application fee is $25. Conference rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Conference page.

Registration is still open for the VCFA Novel Retreat (May 15 to 21). Faculty includes Connie May FowlerJeff KleinmanRichard McCann, and Crystal Wilkinson. A $200 non-refundable deposit is required. For more information, please visit the Novel Retreat page.

The Bennington Review is open for submissions through May 15 with no reading fee. For more information, please visit the Bennington Review Submissions page.

nErDcampVT is accepting registrations for their "unconference" (May 20), which focuses on literacy, at Burlington High School in Burlington, Vermont. The event is free but you must register in advance. For more information and to register, please visit their website.

The New England Review is open for poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and digital submissions through May 31. For more information, please visit the NER Submissions page.

Green Writers Press is accepting submissions through June 1 for the 2nd Annual Howard Frank Mosher First Novel and Short Story Prize. This prize is for a novelist or short story writer who writes about Vermont and/or the themes that resonate so well with Howard's work: nature, small-town stories, love, friendship, forgiveness, Vermont, solitude, and rural life. All ages are welcome to submit. For more information, please visit the Green Writers Press website.

The Frost Place Poetry Seminar (July 29 to August 3) is accepting applications. The scholarship application deadline is May 24. The seminar application deadline is June 28. The application fee is $15. Seminar rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Seminar page.

Putney Mountain Association and Antidote Books have announced the first Putney Mountain Poetry Contest. Judged by poet Seth Landman, the winner will receive a broadside print of their poem displayed at the Putney Mountain Trailhead and a featured reading at Antidote Books. Submit up to three original poems inspired by the Vermont landscape as PDFs to putney.poetry@gmail.com. Do not include your name on the poems, but please include your name, town of residence, and contact information in the email. All entries are due by June 30.

The Hopper, a literary magazine from Green Writers Press, is accepting submissions of full-length manuscripts to its 2018 Hopper Poetry Prize through July 1. Judged by Amie Whittemore, the winner of this contest will receive $500 and publication by Green Writers Press. The contest is open to all poets with an identified interest in the natural world. There is a $25 entry fee. For more information and to see work by previous contest winners, please visit the Hopper Prize page.

Clara Martin Center is seeking submissions for their third annual art/poetry show entitled "Abundance: Celebrating Creativity in Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery" (September 10 to November 2). You are invited to submit poetry, 2-D or 3-D artwork to display in the exhibit. Submissions are due by July 31. Applicants must be Vermont residents, and preference is given to artists/writers in the Upper Valley. For more information, please visit Clara Martin Center's website.

Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Poetry Festival at the Fine Arts Work Center (August 5 to 10) in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The Festival includes poetry and songwriting workshops. Faculty includes Traci Brimhall, Cornelius Eady, Nick Flynn, Vievee Francis, Ross Gay, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Patty Larkin, and Patrick Rosal. For information on tuition, housing, and registration, please visit the FAWC Festival page.

The Burlington Writers Workshop 2018 anthology team is pleased to invite submissions from the BWW community. Fiction, flash fiction, poetry, memoir, personal essay—it's all welcome. The only requirement for submission is that you must have attended at least one BWW workshop within the past five years. For more information, please visit the Burlington Writers Workshop website.

Registration is now open for The Center for Cartoon Studies Summer Workshops (June 11 to August 10), in White River Junction, Vermont. This year's workshops include everything from drawing and writing single-panel comics, to creating graphic memoirs and novels, taught by award-winning artists and writers, including Hilary Price, Jo Knowles, Tillie Walden, and Melanie Gillman. Tuition ranges from $600 to $1200. For more information and to register, please visit the Summer Workshops page.

The Poetry Society of Vermont's Summer Contests are open. Submissions must be received by July 1. For more information, please visit the Contests and Awards page.


May Workshops and Classes

Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? Hungry for a book that shows you how to write and revise your novel without an outline? Author and writing coach Annalisa Parent will walk you through the elements of a publishable manuscript during her "Storytelling for Pantsers" workshop on Thursday, May 3 (5:30 to 6:30 pm), at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire. For more information and to register, please visit the Event page.

From Saturday, May 5 through Saturday, June 2, James Crews is teaching a Mindfulness & Writing online workshop. $195. This course is open to all levels. For more information and to register, please visit the Northshire Books website.

Elayne Clift of The Writer's Center in White River Junction, Vermont is offering a workshop called "Life Stories: Memories of Love, Action and Thought," on Saturday, May 5 (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). This workshop will guide participants as they write and share stories “to know precisely what the past was, to explore this knowledge and these memories, and then to wait and see what comes of knowing and remembering. $35. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshop page.

On Saturday, May 5 (2:00 to 5:00 pm), Carol Potter of The Writer's Center, in White River Junction, Vermont, is offering a workshop titled "Shaking the Tree: Experiments with Form." In this workshop you will explore experimental forms and quasi-traditional forms in poetry from the “American sonnet” to the pantoum to Terrance Hayes’ “Golden Shovel” to the Prose poem. $150. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshops page.

Joni Cole of The Writer's Center in White River Junction, Vermont is offering two "How to Write More, Writer Better, and Be Happier" retreats. On Saturday, May 5, join Joni for a full-day retreat (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) in Greensboro, Vermont. The cost is $150. On Thursday, May 26, Joni will be offering a half-day version (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) in Woodstock, Vermont; the cost is $100. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshop page.

On Monday, May 7 (6:30 to 8:00 pm), join poet Gary Margolis for a continuation of his workshops on the poetic line, hosted by Burlington Writers Workshop, in Burlington, Vermont. If you were in the original workshop, bring with you the copies you were given and bring extra copies of your poems for anyone new who signs up. In addition, bring copies of either a poem whose use of line you admire or a poem that is well-regarded but whose use of line baffles you. For more information and to register, please visit the BWW Workshop page.

The League of Vermont Writers is offering "The Critic and the Muse" workshop on Thursday, May 12 (12:30 to 4:30 pm) at the Expressive Arts Studio in Burlington, Vermont. This four-hour workshop uses collage and free writing to help you explore and form a conscious relationship with the invisible powers that help or inhibit your writing. $60 for members; $80 for non-members. Registration closes on May 7. For more information and to register, please visit the Gatherings page.

On Friday, May 18 (10:00 am to 3:00 pm), join Andy Kolvos, Vermont Folklife Center Director of Archives and Research, for a workshop on recording audio for oral history and ethnography. In this workshop, attendees will receive a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of digital audio, types of common field-recording microphones, and the use of digital audio recorders. The workshop will be held at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont. $95. For more information, please visit the Event page.

The Dipper - August 2017

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

August News

SweetlandBarn

In this moment the chairs were empty.

Not long after, the barn began to fill with people, some we knew and many we didn't. The poets -- James Crews, Dede Cummings, and Mary Kane -- took turns in front of the audience, filling the barn with words that swooped as gracefully, and sometimes as startlingly, as the swallows that glided from window to window.

The poems made us laugh, smile, sigh, and shiver. The poets told us the stories behind the poems, answered our questions, and gave the writers in the room encouragement. When they had finished, several audience members took their turn up front and generously shared their original compositions with us.

Afterwards, in one cozy corner, some of us gathered near Taylor Mardis Katz as she composed poems on her typewriter. In the opposite corner, others cut slices of pie, or sipped ice tea and fruit juice sparklers. We traded email addresses and stories, talked poems and recipes, offered hugs and inspiration.

The afternoon went on, perfect moment after perfect moment, with sunlight filtering through the barn windows and the flowers blooming in the afternoon air.

At the end, we stacked the chairs away, said our goodbyes, and went back out into the day. Nothing felt empty.

Thank you to everyone who came. To everyone who read poems. To everyone who swept the floor. To everyone who baked a pie. To everyone who drove long distances. To everyone who signed books. To everyone who bought books. To everyone who made the afternoon even better than we'd imagined it would be. Thank you. And to everyone we missed, we hope you'll come next year. We'll save a chair for you.

 

Support Literary North!

Literary North is a labor of love for us, but we can't live on love (and pie) alone. We're powered by donations from people who attend our events and appreciate what we do. Please consider supporting us at any level that feels good to you. And if you're interested in co-sponsoring an event, volunteering your time, or donating space at your venue, we'd be thrilled to hear from youWe appreciate your support from the bottom of our hearts!


August Highlights

MiraJacob

The Marlboro College summer reading series continues August 1, 2, and 3 with readings by Mira Ptacin, Mira Jacob, and Ron Currie. The readings begin at 5:00 pm at Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont.

The annual Strafford Town House Forum returns this month, with pairings of readings and conversations each Thursday in August at 7:00 pm, in Strafford, Vermont. This year's presenters include Pat Alger, Jim Rooney, Michael Caduto, Ted Levin, Robin MacArthur, Melanie Finn, Pamela Harrison, and Ina Anderson.

PamelaHarrison

The Back Roads Reading series in Brownington, Vermont, concludes with a reading by poet Charles Simic on Sunday, August 6, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm.

The Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont, will be hosting two readings of original work from members of the From Our Minds and Hearts (FOMAH) Art Group. Each event features readings from six FOMAH Art Group writers. The readings will take place on Wednesday, August 9, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, and on Saturday, August 26, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm.

Since the end of June, local/regional women poets and writers have been reading the work of or about other women writers as part of Women Reading Women on the main stage at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The final two readings--featuring Pricilla Cookson, Kayla Cash, Tamara Collins, Julie Dickson, Marybeth McNamara, and Wendy Cannella--take place on Thursday, August 10, and Thursday, August 17, from 5:45 to 6:15 pm.

Nature writers Robert Finch and John Elder will be discussing Finch's latest book, The Outer Beach, at The Vermont Book Shop, Tuesday, August 17, at 7:00 pm, in Middlebury, Vermont.

Jamaica Kincaid and James Atlas will be in conversation on Saturday, August 26, at 7:00 pm, at Northshire Bookstore, in Manchester Center, Vermont.

EdwardHirsch

The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference kicks off its August public events with Lauren Groff and Edward Hirsch at 8:15 pm on Wednesday, August 16. The series continues with readings and lectures presented by more than 20 authors, through Friday, August 25. All events take place in the Little Theatre on the Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, Vermont.

 

Worth a Drive

Poet Frank Bidart will be reading from his latest poetry collection, Half-Light: Collected Poems, on Tuesday, August 15, at 7:00 pm, at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The reading is free.

Please visit our calendar for detailed information about each event and to see more event listings for August and beyond.

 

We're looking forward to these August releases


Calls for Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The AVA Gallery is looking for storytellers for its quarterly story-telling series, The Mudroom (September 14). The theme is  “Scary Stories.” Storytellers of all ages and from all towns in the Upper Valley and beyond are welcome. Storytellers should submit a brief summary of the story (two or three sentences) and a short bio (no more than 150 words) by August 22 to judith.hertog@gmail.com or to Sheryl@avagallery.org.

The Marble House Project is now accepting applications for the Collaborative Winter Residency. This residency facilitates a group of artists working together to develop new or in-progress work. Residents apply as a group. The cost is $500 per person, and includes food, housing, and studio space. Applications close midnight, August 31. For more information, please visit the Residency Application page.

Register now through August 31 for the Northern Woodlands Conference (October 20 to 22) and take 10% off the registration fee. Use the special code "EarlyBird" at checkout to receive the discount. For more information and to register, please visit the Conference page.

The Bennington MFA Writing Seminar is currently accepting applications for its January residency. The non-refundable application fee is $70 (or $100 for a dual-genre application). The application deadline is September 1. For a list of information that must accompany the application, and a link to the application form, please visit the Application Info and Deadlines page.

There's still time to register for the Writers in the Round Songwriters and Poets Retreat (September 7 to 10), on Star Island, New Hampshire. This is a time for stretching boundaries, cross genre inspiration, and fresh salt air. We welcome all levels of artistry for daily classes, structured and unstructured time for composition and collaboration, small group workshops, and nightly song and poetry swaps. The program fee is $110. Room and board rates ($424 to $734) include lodging, meal, and ferry transportation from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For more information and to register, please visit the Retreat page.

The application deadline for the MacDowell Colony Winter/Spring 2018 residency is September 15. The application fee is $30. For more information, please visit the Application Guidelines page.

Registration is open for the 2017 New Hampshire Poetry Festival (September 23). Registration fees ranges from $55 (students) to $95 (PSNH members) to $120 (non-members) and include panel discussions, workshops, headliner reading with Gregory Pardlo, morning and afternoon receptions, and time with poets from around the country. For more information and to resister, please visit the Registration page.

Vital Communities is hosting a Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage you to explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole and write a Valley Quest. Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author or the winning Quest will receive a grand prize. The deadline is December 15. For full details and to submit your Quest, please visit the Watershed Quest Challenge page. Note: Vital Communities is offering a free Quest Writing Workshop on Friday, August 11. For more information, see "August Workshops and Classes," below.


August Workshops and Classes

Burlington Writers Workshop offers a series of writing retreats designed to provide members with opportunities to gather in quiet, inspiring spaces for focused discussion, instruction, and writing time. The August retreat is "Writing Prose - Fiction and Nonfiction," lead by Robin McLean, on Saturday, August 26. The retreat will be held in Grand Isle, Vermont. To participate, register by August 5. For more information or to register, please visit the Retreat page.

New Hampshire Writers' Project is hosting two online webinars in August: "Awakening the Monster: How to Edit Your Book Manuscript," with Jeff Deck, on Wednesday, August 9, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm; and "Clever as a Cat and Working Like a Dog: How to Create a Stir Before Your Book's Launch," with Ann Garvin, on Monday, August 21, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. The cost for each is $10 for members and $25 for nonmembers. For more information and to register, please visit the Workshops page.

Vital Communities is offering a free Quest Writing Workshop on Friday, August 11, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Steve Glazer will lead a fun-filled day spent diving into natural history and designing an educational Valley Quest treasure hunt. Snacks will be provided, but participants should bring their own lunch. To participate, register by August 7. For more information or to register, please visit the workshop's Event page.

Join poet Peter Money for an ekphrastic poetry workshop on Saturday, August 12, from 2:30 to 5:30 pm, at the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont. Participants will compose and share a poem inspired by one of the artworks on view. Participants should bring their own notebooks. Pencils will be provided. Smartphones recommended if possible. Admission is free, but space is limited and registration is required. For more information and to register, please visit the Event page.

As of this writing, Live Free and Write, a New Hampshire Getaway for Writers has one space left for the August 13 to 18 retreat in Sunapee, New Hampshire. For full details and to register, visit the Summer Writing Retreat page.

Burlington Writers Workshop in Burlington and Montpelier, Vermont, offers an ongoing series of free writing workshops. Upcoming workshops include creative writing (any genre), poetry, and creative nonfiction. For a complete list of upcoming workshops and to register, visit the workshop Meetup page.

For fiction and creative non-fiction writers who want a deadline and thoughtful feedback on their work, instructor Joni B. Cole will be leading a Writer's Salon (and Sustenance) on Sunday, August 27, from 4:00 to 6::30 pm. During the meeting, writers will be asked to read aloud a work in progress. The cost is $40, which includes quality feedback, savory snacks, and camaraderie. For more information and to register, please visit the Writers Center Workshops page.