Writers read in “Pipe Scheme” session
Among the final 2012 Mount David Summit sessions was “Pipe Scheme,” in which seven senior creative writing majors read from their thesis works.
The reading was part of a summit schedule that, this year, included an expanded helping of literary treats, such as a program on the translation of poetry and a presentation of personal tales from last fall’s Bates program in Nantes, France.
Opening “Pipe Scheme” was poet Elizabeth Henry of Lee, N.H. Titled “Appendix,” her poetry thesis intersperses descriptions of bodies and landscapes with reflections on her experience as a poet. One section of the work comprises vignettes about poetry itself — its definition, process and inherent eccentricity. The other focuses on love, relationships and recognizing the magnificence of being.
Karen Nicoletti of Brewster, N.Y., read from her novel Bluenote, about a saxophone player and Juilliard dropout who, after years of trying to make it big, winds up playing for handouts in the New York subway.
A double major in music and English, Nicoletti convincingly described not only the distinctive stylings of jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, but also the anxiety and self-doubt that can afflict a musician on stage.
Each student would end her reading by introducing the next. Nicoletti brought on Charlotte Simpson of New York City with the words, “Charlotte always seems to say something in her poems that you don’t quickly forget.”
Simpson’s LavaHouse is narrated by a 9-year-old girl after the sudden death of her mother and depicts grief processes of her hoarding father, promiscuous sister and their house that comes to have a life of its own.
Alison Cornforth of Warren, Maine, read from a project that began as an autobiographical collection of poems, but evolved into a series of 10 poems on lesbian experience in seven different voices. Cornforth also read from works not included in her thesis, like “High School All-Star Grows a Pair,” a narrative about unwanted breasts interfering with a girl’s dream to be an athlete.
Alana Folsom of Los Angeles writes prose and poetry. Before reading, Folsom explained that it took a sojourn in Bath, England, for her to discover her interest in American culture.
Her prose thesis focuses on an imaginary small Southern town called Rigoon, cursed with poverty, violence and distrust. Her poetry thesis deals with American life in a variety of contexts, all unified by detailed specificity and vivid imagery.
In introducing Emily Cull of Greenville, S.C., Folsom said, “I have always been amaze by Emily’s ability to create beauty with just the 26 letters of the alphabet.” Cull’s poetry thesis is in two sections. One follows her experiences in Lima, Peru — from her becoming aware of American privilege to the embarrassment of bringing a bottle of Chilean wine to a party with Peruvian friends. The second section of her thesis is about her family and a “disease I created to talk about life.”
Cull handed the session over to Michelle Schloss of Unionville, Conn., with the comment, “To borrow a line from one of Michelle’s own poems, I believe that she is a writer with ‘crazy vitality.’ ” Schloss’ poetry included a biographical narrative about Zelda Fitzgerald, from her wild Roaring Twenties days of jumping into fountains to her suicide in 1948.
Robert Farnsworth, senior lecturer in English and adviser to the creative writing majors, moderated the session. Wrapping up, he noted, “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with all of these writers.”