This Week in English | February 25 – March 3, 2019

As February melts (and re-freezes) into March, the English Department prepares for an eventful week featuring the poet and activist Lynn Melnick on Wednesday and Thursday, and the television writer and producer, and Lewiston native, Adam Barr on Friday and Saturday. We also celebrate alumna Lisa DesRochers-Short’s literary (and literal) heritage and the creative spirits of our MA program who participated in last Thursday’s Writer’s Night event in Bangor.   

Poet Lynn Melnick Leads Workshop on Wednesday, Reads on Thursday

As part of her visit to campus this week, poet and activist Lynn Melnick will lead a workshop on “Exploring and Dismantling Rape Culture” on Wednesday, February 27, at 4pm in the Writing Center. The workshop is co-sponsored by the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) program and the McGillicuddy Humanities Center.   

Rape culture is the term for the environment in which sexual assault, harassment, coercion, and misconduct are ignored, diminished, and allowed to flourish without repercussion. Rape culture is rampant in the United States and around the world, and it very often originates from the very language we use to describe and define events and actions. From casual “rape jokes” traded among friends, to “boys will be boys,” to journalists calling the many assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood figures a “sex scandal,” to women being told they should appreciate street harassment—these everyday microaggressions and flat-out aggressions keep women and other victims from feelings safe, and often also keep them from achieving their career and personal goals.

In this workshop we will explore the many insidious forms that rape culture takes, and how we can arm ourselves and others with facts and with language to push back against what society keeps telling us is normal and not so bad.  

NOTE: This workshop is for all genders! Men very much welcome!

On Thursday, February 28, Melnick will read in a New Writing Series event hosted by Jennifer Moxley. The event will be held at 4:30pm in the Allen and Sally Fernald APPE Space, 104 Stewart Commons.

TV Writer & Producer Alan Barr Gives Talk on Friday, Leads Workshop on Saturday

On Friday, March 1, the Stephen E. King Chair Spring Lecture Series opens with a talk by television producer and writer Adam Barr titled “Made for TV: Writing to Keep Hollywood Relevant.” The event will be held at 4:30 in the Wells Conference Center.

On the afternoon of Saturday, March 2, Barr will lead a workshop on “Writing for TV.” 

Are you curious about how television gets made? Do you like to write or act? Have you ever watched television? If so, mark your calendars for Saturday, March 2, 1:00pm-4:00pm, in the Foster Innovation Center (free, but registration recommended).

Come join Emmy Award-winning television writer and Executive Producer of Will & Grace Adam Barr as he leads a hands-on workshop on the essentials of creating an original episode of TV. In a fun, three-hour session, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be in an actual Hollywood TV writers’ room. You’ll learn how to generate stories, create characters, wrestle with dramatic structure, and maybe even pitch jokes. Open to any members of the UMaine community interested in media, performance, writing, and entertainment — or anyone who simply wants to observe and quietly judge. Advanced registration is required for those wishing to sit around the table and participate. (Quiet observers/judgers need not register, but must maintain respect for the workshop and its participants.) Contact Stephen E. King Chair, Caroline Bicks, to express your interest in registering: Include a few lines explaining your connection to the University and why you want to participate. Space is limited.

Alum Lisa DesRochers-Short Wins International Travel Award

Lisa DesRochers-Short, an alumna of the English major who concentrated in creative writing, recently won a Cheuse Center International Travel Award to go to Montréal to study and translate the poetry of a French ancestor of hers, Alfred DesRochers. What follows are excerpts from her application materials:

In French, my maiden name “DesRochers” translates to “of the large rocks.” When my French ancestors arrived in Canada in 1647, their last name was Houde. My ninth great-grandparents, Louis Houde and Madeleine Boucher, had fourteen children in Quebec and are the common ancestors of many Quebecois. As the family grew, many cousins had the same first and last names. To quell confusion, people began referring to topographical elements around their land. DesRochers refers to the mountainous terrain of Quebec. Houde became Houde-dit-desRochers, which was shortened to just DesRochers.

Alfred DesRochers was an influential, 20th-century French-Canadian poet. He was born in the mill town of Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1901 and died in 1978. He was also a critic and editor of La Tribune between WWI and WWII. His writings focus on the importance of Francophone identity, through regional and rural life of North America. He associated ancestral identity with mystical communion with nature. He believed that the French in Canada should develop unique identities instead of looking to France. My great-grandfather was also born in Sherbrooke. To the best of my knowledge, Alfred DesRochers was my fourth cousin; since there are so many people with the same names, we could be more closely related. The United States internet has limited resources of Alfred DesRochers’ poetry almost all of which is in French and has never been translated.

I was born in the Francophone mill town of Lewiston, Maine, in 1991. I grew up on my grandparents’ rural property in Minot, Maine: eighty acres of a new growth forest that contains the ruins of a sawmill. I feel spiritually connected with the land because I think about it every day and I still wander that forest in my mind, particularly while meditating. As a child, I would imagine what the land was used for in the past: What did this look like as a farm? What about as a sawmill? Who planted this tree? What about the Abenaki tribes living on this land before? Did my ancestors force them to leave or did they integrate? These are the types of questions and philosophies that Alfred DesRochers also ponders in his writing. I need to go to Canada to access more information about his life, work, and influence.

Lisa DesRochers is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University. She graduated UMaine in 2012.

Writer’s Night Event Report

Organizer Tori Hood writes with this update about the February 21 installment of her on-going Writer’s Night series.

Writer’s Night: A Prompting Evening was a success! We were happy to have willing participants stare at an image of trees for half an hour while they wrote about it! We heard from many of the UMaine community including Kaitlyn Hanson, Tyler Tallmadge, Victoria Hood, Emerson Posey, Elizabeth Zavodny, Liz Northcote, Cassidy Marsh, Sarah Duffin, and Micah Valliere. It was a pleasure to hear from the raw creative minds that surround us everyday. We look forward to hosting our next Writer’s Night event in April so please watch out!


Up to something cool? Reading something amazing? Enjoying a specific class—or the unexpected connections between classes? Drop me a note for possible inclusion in a future bulletin!



This Week in English 49 was sent to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Monday, February 25, 2019. If you would rather not receive these weekly bulletins, please reply with <unsubscribe> in your subject line. Earlier installments are archived on our website.

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