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Jabari Matthew ’17 reads from Larry I. Palmer's "The Haircut."

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Students Bring Literary Journal to Life Onstage

February 25, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury debuted a lively new arts program last night with “NER Out Loud,” a collaboration of the New England Review, the Mahaney Center for the Arts, and the student Oratory Society. Students presented poems, memoir, and short fiction from the pages of NER on the Concert Hall stage, lending their voices to the work on the page and bringing it to life for an audience of students, faculty, and community members. After the program, the audience gathered in the art center lobby for s’mores and hot chocolate, where they browsed copies of NER plus three student publications — Blackbird, Room 404, and Sweatervest — and heard readings from those magazines.

“I’d read all these pieces probably a hundred times before tonight, and thought I’d caught every nuance," said NER editor Carolyn Kuebler, "but these students have managed to reveal even more layers, more possible ways of hearing the language as it was written on the page.” Kuebler also thanked collaborators Dana Yeaton, associate professor of Theatre and head of the new Oratory Society, and Liza Sacheli, director of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, both of whom helped bring the project to life.

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Caitlin Duffy ’15.5 reads from "Shark Fishing" by Allegra Hyde. Eliza Goodhue provided American Sign Language interpretation.

The NER Out Loud program began with a welcome by Debanjan Roychoudhury ’16, who served as MC and introduced the speakers and authors, offering the audience a little information about each student’s upcoming theatrical and oratory works. Roychoudhury told the audience that all the readers on stage were members of a new student organization called the Oratory Society. The group offers its members speaker training and runs workshops with faculty in their classes.

Student readers included Kevin Benscheidt ’17 reading Matthew Olzmann; Brenna Christensen ’17 reading Kelli Russell Agodon; Caitlyn Duffy ’15.5 reading Allegra Hyde; Cole Ellison ’17 reading James Hoch; Jabari Matthew ’17 reading Larry I. Palmer; Melissa MacDonald ’15 reading Kate Lebo; and Sally Seitz ’17 reading January Gill O’Neil. Eliza Goodhue provided American Sign Language interpretation, side by side with the student orators, who remained on stage throughout the production.

At the “s’more readings” reception afterward, NER intern Dustin Lowman ’15 introduced the student magazines and readers, including Blackbird editor Nick Kaye ’17 and readers Isabelle Stillman ’16; Room 404 editor Dylan Redford ’15 and reader Alice Oshima ’15; and Sweatervest editors Emily Luan ’15 and Doug LeCours ’15.

Photos by Robert Keren

1 Comment

I applaud the new organization and the tremendous work required for such a performance. However, as a retired life-long teacher & professor, I would urge that future programs intersperse student literary pieces w/ those of the professional journal and be given equal time on-stage. The reception could continue in the same manner. Also, open mic reading nights either in dorms and/or communal spaces encourage those silent wannabe poets and writers (perhaps uneven in talent but each w/ a story to be heard) give courage to all...and are therapeutic as well. Student life is stressful, sometimes lonely, and for those from different
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cultures and environments deserve such a forum. Why not encourage student visual works, ethnic or contemporary dance, rap (really an ancient poetic form), and student art displays. Despite all sincere liberal attempts, our ""melting pot" culture still unconsciously teaches the "other" how to fit into an elite majority (whether indigenous, scholarship VTers, those from the inner city, or from 3rd world cultures.) Midd is environmentally and in many areas so at the forefront of the newest ideas and forward-leaning projects (e.g., your octopus photographer--amazing and amusing.) As I recall, the incomparable and under-appreciated? Arthur Healey left money to have a "pissoir" erected on campus (below the Chapel but definitely on the main campus.) When it appears, my contributions (to the limited extent that I'm able) will reflect his and your generosity and forward thinking. To encourage student appreciation, they might decorate it w/ a student mural. Just imagine: if inner cities and multicultural groups can become communal artists, esp. in Latino/a areas, professors, students and staff might participate as equals, And Arthur Healey, still wearing a dyed carnation to match the day's attire from on high, would feel not only duly honored but incredibly enthusiastic about the future of the arts where he labored with complete inspiration and dedication. How could the same college that was first to replace the Greek system after a heinous sexist, violent symbol triggered the courageous response of integrating coed housing in its place .not be equally forward thinking in regard to the bequeathed memorial? That, as well as an unusually precocious octopus, might just be another positive viral moment. Here's to the future of the arts at Midd and to the same daring, courageous spirit of innovation in realizing them. As critics proclaim, it's not theory but praxis that has lasting value, even in our uncertain rapidly changing global world. Anne R. Higginbottom (OK to share or publish or notify me if I have incorrect info on Arthur Healey's bequest.)
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by Anne Ryan Higgi... (not verified)

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