Lisa Schnell: A child dies, and a mother finds connection through writing

Honors College Associate Dean Lisa Schnell

Nearly a decade ago, Lisa Schnell suffered a parent’s most difficult trial: the loss of her child. Her daughter, Claire, was born with a debilitating, and ultimately fatal, brain condition. Through years of writing, Schnell has maintained her connection to Claire. In many ways, she says, it is through the act of writing that she remains Claire’s mother.

Listen to the interview and reading here.

Schnell is associate dean of the UVM Honors College and an associate professor of English. She has been at UVM in the English Department since 1992. Her scholarly work focuses on the literary and cultural lives and ambitions of women in 16th- and 17th-century England, though her most recent projects combine some of her early modern interests with contemporary theories of narrative, cognitive neuroscience and the work of mourning.

Schnell has taught courses in the English department on Shakespeare, Milton, Renaissance literature, the Bible as literature, and literary theory and criticism. For several years, she taught a sophomore seminar in the honors college called “Telling Stories: Truth and Narrative” in which students read work in evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience and narrative theory together with several novels that engaged and complicated the sense of “self” that the nonfiction reading presented.  Several of those issues have found their way into the first-year honors college course, “The Pursuit of Knowledge,” a class Professor Schnell said she has greatly enjoyed teaching since its inauguration in the Fall of 2008.

Before becoming the associate dean of the honors college, Schnell served for several years as the director of undergraduate studies in the department of English; she also served a one-year term as acting director of the John Dewey Honors Program in the college of arts and sciences.

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Jon Clinch: From adman to serious Vermont novelist

Before writing two novels with some seriously dark prose—and  getting the thumbs up from Oprah, The

Washington Post and every medium in between—Jon Clinch

spent a lifetime as an ad writer. In his visit to Writers@WRUV on Dec. 2, 2010, he tells how his ad life led into his novelist life, and so much more. And—oh, yes—he reads some good work: from his novel Kings of the Earth.

Listen to this extended interview here.

Read an excerpt from his personal draft of Kings of the Earth here.

The Bio!

Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York,  Clinch been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter and an advertising executive. Teaching and advertising took

Author Jon Clinch

him south to the suburbs of Philadelphia for many years, and only with the publication of Finn, his first novel, was he able to return to the kind of rural surroundings he’d loved from the start: This time, in the Green Mountains of Vermont. He is married to the novelist Wendy Clinch, and they have one daughter.

Finn (read The Washington Post review here) tells the secret history of Huckleberry Finn’s father. The book was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was chosen as one of the year’s ten best books by The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor. It also won the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Sargent First Novel Prize.

His second novel, Kings of the Earth, led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, The Oprah Magazine. Set in upstate New York, Kings of the Earth is a powerful story of life, death, and family in rural America.

He invites you to visit his website, his blog and his Facebook page. Oh, and you should follow him on Twitter, too!

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Colette Shade takes aim at society’s demons (and Demonyms)

Colette Shade, born in Washington, DC, is a junior at the University of Vermont, where she studies English and global history.  She is the founder, president and editor-in-chief of Demonyms, a literature and commentary magazine that she is planning to release in Spring 2011 at UVM.  Her stories, which she describes as “noveau southern gothics,” often take place in Baltimore and Washington, and her work frequently deals with themes of class conflict, alienation and injustice.

For her appearance on this show, she brought her story “Pluvianus Aegyptius” and told of her plans to help reshape Vermont’s literary landscape with her new magazine.
Listen to the show.

Read her story.

Check out the latest buzz about Demonyms.

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The Laughing Couple Spin Native American Stories & Sketch Dreams

We were joined in the studio Oct. 7 by Laughing Couple Interactive Storytelling, featuring storyteller Carolyn Hunt and visual artist Rick Hunt.Together, they share tales in the Native Northeast Woodland Tradition with Rick creating spontaneous, improvisational murals as Carolyn shares the stories from memory, often improvising along the way.

For this visit, Carolyn brought an original story, told in in the style of Native American storytelling, that she says came to her in a dream in its finished form. As she read the story on WRUV, Rick pulled out a pen and began sketching away, producing the sketches you see below. It was a fun and dynamic visit.

Listen to the show here.


Rick sketches while Carolyn reads her original story


From their website:

The name of Laughing Couple was given to Rick and Carolyn by an Incan boy, named Joey, whom they befriended while attending a Powwow. The name stuck and became their “identity”. This name naturally carried forward when Rick and Carolyn began their storytelling venture in earnest.


The Laughing Couple and Daddo


When asked how they came about doing Native American storytelling together, the reply is always “This is the path the Creator has set us upon”. Both Rick and Carolyn feel that the stories and artwork they create goes far beyond simple entertainment. “This is a way for us to reach people who would not otherwise be exposed to our culture. We feel that we are not only representing and honoring our ancestors, but that we are also respecting and honoring our people as a “modern” entity”. The storytelling and artwork provide a friendly avenue for us to introduce the dominant culture to who we are and what we are.”

Rick’s background includes art studies at Franconia College, Massachusetts College of Art and Lesley College.  Carolyn also has an art education from Western New Mexico University, Franklin Pierce University and Keene State University.

The pair reside in Littleton, N.H., but regularly perform in Vermont.

In addition, Laughing Couple offers workshops in drawing and/or storytelling, as well as Artist In Residency programs.  A sampling of their venues includes schools, colleges, civic organizations, cultural programs, museums and two separate projects with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.  For more information, visit us or on Facebook.

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Ben Aleshire invites readers into The Salon

Ben Aleshire, who earlier this year launched the local literary magazine The Salon, dropped by to give us a peak into the just-released second issue and to read some of his own poetry.

Click here to listen to the show.

Ben is a Burlington artist who grew up in the small Vermont hamlet of Wallingford. His poetry has recently appeared in Seven Days. Ben has traveled and photographed in 15 countries around the world, and exhibited throughout Vermont. Also an actor and musician, Ben has performed with the Bread & Puppet Theatre in Glover, VT, at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennesee with Burlington’s Unbearable Light Cabaret, and toured in central America with the Mexican Circus, Cabaret Capricho.

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Philip Baruth explores Politix of the Future

For our first live show of the year, we welcomed back our first guest ever, novelist Philip Baruth. In the midst of the political season, Philip took us back 1993’s The X President, a book-length satire that follows the desperate attempts of Bill Clinton, age 109, to re-write his historical legacy. The New York Times selected The X President as a Notable Book of 2003; the Washington Post described Philip and a small handful of others as “the newer new generation” of up-and-coming writers.

Philip’s most recent novel is The Brothers Boswell, a literary thriller that traces the famous friendship between James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, author of the first modern dictionary. The Washington Post selected Brothers Boswell as one of the Best Books of 2009.

Click here to listen to the show.

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WRUVwriters: Summer 2010 Edition

During the summer, we air plenty of our most recent audio segments of Vermont WRiterliness. Check in at 90.1 Burlington at 10 a.m. each Thursday. You’ll love it.

Our new year starts Thursday, Sept. 16, when we’ll be joined again by our very first guest, Philip Baruth.

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