Tag Archives: Bennington College

Ambassadors, Advocates, and Librarians

What I took from my 5 Days at ALA Chicago Conference
by Lydia Golitz, GWP Summer Intern

Thanks to the incredible Dede Cummings, I was able attend the American Library Association’s annual conference from June 22 to June 27. This summer, it was held in Chicago, where I live and intern remotely for GWP. I was sent to do many things, among them: to learn how to be in conversation with libraries and educators, to spread the word about one of GWP’s upcoming release, Salamander Sky, and explore all the fun things ALA has to offer. I had a blast, all while gathering information and inspiration left and right.

Of all the incredible people I encountered at ALA, two really, genuinely, impacted me. One was Gene Luen Yang, and the other was Hillary Clinton. They were both featured speakers who really encapsulated what I feel is so important about what—and how!—we read.

Gene Luen Yang is an accomplished graphic novelist whose works center around the Asian-American experience. All of his work, especially his most accomplished pieces: American Born Chinese, and The New Superman, have inspired conversations about diversity in literature. In a moment of illumination, Yang spoke about what it means to be an “ambassador” and what it means to be an “advocate.” Ambassadors are people (authors, characters, readers) who relay other’s experiences in an empathetic way, and advocacy is sharing stories that speak to experiences representative of your own. In this way, Yang said, ambassadors teach you how to love others, and advocates teach you how to love yourself. And literature should do just that—create an empathy for others, while empowering the reader to be true to themselves in a noble way. His talk highlighted the importance of representation, and that anyone, from any background, race, or gender, is capable of doing anything, including being both an ambassador and an advocate. And one essential way in inspiring that inclusion is being able to see characters just like them in the stories they read.

. . . it is clear that “access equals opportunity,” books are of the UTMOST importance in every community.

Hillary Clinton spoke to the importance of representation as well, taking it a step farther in talking about how these books reach people everyday. Because it is clear that “access equals opportunity,” books are of the UTMOST importance in every community. With the help of free, instructional libraries, books can be endlessly accessed and open everyone to limitless opportunity through knowledge and empowerment. She also spoke to the importance of how we read. In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” it is more important than ever to be a critical reader. Clinton emphasized that libraries and books are the things that encourage and teach that critical reading and media literacy, and are therefore indispensable right now, and for our future.

Just from my short 6 weeks here at GWP, I can tell that all of these commitments are also central to what GWP strives to do. As people who write, read, and love books, we hold so much power in our world and in our own local communities to change perceptions and start important conversations through literature, poetry, and art. Interested in libraries, outreach, or changing the world? Start conversations with your local branch, your local bookstore, your local educators, readers, and writers. If you’re looking for just a good place to start reading, check out GWP’s own authors, who are all so committed to changing the world for the better, through advocacy for the environment.

Weneeddiversebooks.org and reading-without-walls.com are also good resources to help us expose ourselves to literature we might not even think about looking for. Though it can be a hefty challenge to read outside of the box, I believe it is one of the most important ones we have the privilege to participate in. Happy reading!

 

 

—Lydia Golitz,
GWP Summer Editorial Intern
Bennington College

Urban Gardening Blog: Backyard Bounty

Hello, Jessica here! I am one of the interns for Green Writers Press this summer, and I bring to you all my family’s small farm in our backyard in Brooklyn, New York.

Our cat, called Sour Veggies, amongst the squash vines and spinach.

As a student of environmentalism and as a city-dweller, urban farming is a phrase I am very familiar with. At times though, I have found that the urban farming conversation presented in New York is often lost in the larger folds of “green” living trends: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, co-ops, heirloom tomatoes, and such. People are more likely to depend on markets to provide them local, fresh foods, than to plant and grow produce themselves, this being because of a lack of time and space, motivation, and of knowledge and/or experience.

If you look up “New York urban farming” on a search engine (Yahoo and Google for me) today, there is only a handful of fresh results. There are about two media posts written about community urban agriculture in New York for 2017 and they are mostly lists that account the projects going on. (See the bottom of this post for some of these links.) It seems to be a quiet but promising start, with indoor and hydroponic projects going on, and even aquaponic farms that grow plants in a closed system with fish, using the fish poop as plant fertilizer and the plants as water filterers.

A community urban farming project can only be successful if there is solid support and demand from the community. Not only would it need a community to give it material resources, but also people willing to put in the effort to grow and manage produce. Take America’s victory gardens of World War II or even Cuba’s urban agriculture conversion in the 1990s as examples of large scale urban growing projects. Though both those scenarios were formed in times of dire need, they act as models of potential community based pathways; nothing, really, is stopping us from creating our own local, fresh produce or of demanding that there be public space provided for it.

But enough about big projects, let’s return to my family’s backyard. By showing how my family manages a no-frills kind of backyard farm, I want to contribute to the demystification of the difficulty of growing food, something not just urban dwellers, but anyone who relies on outside food resources seems to be under.  We are very fortunate to have this plot of land and though this is not an example of growing produce in extreme urban spaces without access to land, I hope our narrative will add to the slow but steadily growing landscape of New York urban farming and expose people to how it is nourishing our life at home.

My family farms on a six by three yard plot of upraised soil, and have built a nine foot tall overhanging trellis for the squash. This trellis spans the length of our backyard overhead and come July, the squash vines completely cover the trellis to create a sort of shadow-speckled retreat underneath. The vines will leave the soil, climbing the tied up poles and nets to bask in the sunlight, and the squash, as they ripen, will dangle underneath the trellis like green chandeliers. This kind of farming that allows plants to transcend the ground is called vertical farming. Vertical farming is an efficient kind of farming for small plots of land: above, vines can grow and below, on the open, but shaded soil herbs and other shade-tolerant plants can grow. Vertical farming is becoming a practical alternative in cramped urban spaces like New York City, where many projects are using vertically stacked layers to grow herbs and vegetables indoors.

Our backyard farm. Note the overhanging trellis built for the vines.

For my parents, who both grew up farming rice patties in southern China, growing their own produce is not simply an optional green alternative; it is inseparable from their way of living. It is a source of pride for them that they can provide for the home in another way besides having full time jobs.

Young cucumbers climbing on the vine. @urbanveggies6x3

We grow cucumbers, winter melon, bitter gourd, spinach, ginger, yam leaves, tomatoes, and other vegetables. What growing a small farm has taught us is that there is always more than enough, and our bounty is shared amongst family and friends. Nothing is sold for commercial purposes and my family uses only one kind of insecticide, a slug and snail killer, in our practice.

Links on New York urban farming:

http://www.amny.com/lifestyle/brooklyn/brooklyn-farms-urban-agriculture-is-booming-1.9354334

http://www.nycfoodpolicy.org/11-nyc-urban-agriculture-organizations-follow-social-media-right-now/

http://www.okofarms.com/

https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/15/11937882/verticulture-aquaponic-farm-brooklyn-fish-poop-fertilizer

 

Follow us on Instagram @urbanveggies6x3 to see how our kind of urban farming can be done, and follow us @greenwriterspress to see how an environmentally conscious publishing house works.

Jessica is a student at Bennington College and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

 

Our 2017 Bennington Interns are Here!

GWP is a proud participant in the Bennington College Field Work internship program, which we have been doing since our inception in 2014. Our Bennington College interns are all extremely motivated young people who care about the fate of the earth and want to do everything they can to foster a sustainable environment. Our newest interns just started this January and will be with us until mid-February. Please join us in welcoming Ruby, Rachel, and Liana!

Here is a recent photo taken at their first meeting with GWP author, Tim Weed (A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, due out April 2017), at our favorite Brattleboro hangout, Mocha Joe’s.

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A Vermont Poet Shines Forth & Welcome New Interns & Summer Fellows

(Book Review)
Galvanized: New and Selected Poems by Leland Kinsey

By David Nilsen

galvanizedGalvanized, the new collection from Vermont poet Leland Kinsey, is a document of the hardship and rough-hewn beauty of living close to the land, in reach of its temper but also its embrace. Kinsey grew up on a Vermont farm, the child of a long line of such folk who clung to existence in the face of a cold north wind, working impossibly hard because to do less was to starve. These poems–some new, most from his seven previous books since 1991–are more closely tied to a particular place than any others I’ve read, and bring Vermont into a vivid focus, painting a landscape and a way of life I had never associated with the state.

Kinsey’s poems are beautiful but brutal pastorales, uncompromising in their depictions of the strain and heartache of living off the land. At times these poems feel like catalogs of woe, running through lists of injuries and tragedies, but they are never self-pitying, and they are never dishonest. The occasional joys of such hard lives are also given their turn, from necessary late night swims in glacial ponds to wash off the sweat and chaff after a day of baling, to summer baseball games, to barn dances to thank the neighbors for helping rebuild a burnt down farm building. Kinsey remembers sledding as a child, the near-suicidal danger of this diversion, the danger less impending than that of their farm work because it was chosen:

“We mostly slid at night to tell
if cars were coming,
no stopping at the corner
except by ditching at forty miles and hour,
blood and fractures either way.”
– page 97

More than anything, these poems chronicle survival, an endeavor that for Kinsey’s family was often a fraught and unforgiving one, but one that laid down from time to time in the shadow of joy. There is a wry humor underlying much of this poetry, rarely spotlighted but often teasing at the edges of harder truths, a humor that undoubtedly served its own role in the family’s endurance. In “Riding in the Open,” Kinsey recalls countless rides on top of farm loads in his youth, experiences that were sometimes fun, a chance to rest, and sometimes quite dangerous, and often both:

“I think of how we mostly could not talk,
mouths agape,
cheeks puffed out by the force of wind,
any conversation blown back passed us,
ears wind stopped,
and of the holding on,
and in the face of the black despair
we were all prone to,
wild laughter.”
– page 96

There is a section of the book containing poems from his 2004 collection In the Rain Shadow, a series of poems he wrote during his extended visit with his cousin in Tanzania. These poems present a jarring change of landscape and culture initially, but it quickly becomes apparent to the reader–as it did to the poet–how much there is in common between the experience the inhabitants of this impoverished nation have had in trying to scrape a living from the harsh African environment and the struggle Kinsey’s own family and ancestors had in prying a living from the glacier-scoured hills of northern Vermont.

Galvanized concludes with selections from Kinsey’s most recent collection, 2014’s Winter Ready. Living as close to (and off of) the land as Kinsey and his family have, many of his poems deal with the seasons, the heavens’ rationing of sunshine and rain, and the cruelties and wonders of winter, but this final section hones in on the way the calendar in a cold-weather climate bends around the gravity well of winter. Spring is about escaping it and planting as soon as the ground warms. In summer it can almost be forgotten as crops grow high and the sun beats down. But by fall, everyone knows what’s coming. Crops are gathered, wood is chopped, repairs are made, food is laid in. Winter will spare no one who isn’t ready. These poems perfectly encapsulate the simple clarity with which Kinsey documents the hardship of living as he and his family have, wasting little regret or resentment over the fairness of their lives. There simply isn’t time for it, and nature is as unforgiving with human life as it is with animal. In one of the new poems in the book, he summarizes this while talking about a recent fishing excursion. He set two trout eggs on a rock by the river, and while he had his back turned, they were snatched up by an opportunistic gull he hadn’t noticed a moment before:

“Eggs, and no gull noticed,
gull, and no eggs to be seen,
no one’s rights involved,
just, quick as that,
life’s magic
act.”
– Fish Eggs, page 7

I was unfamiliar with Leland Kinsey before this anthology, and I look forward to backtracking through his work in the future. He is a singular poet, deft with his words but aware his greatest asset is the strange and wondrous life he’s lived; he forefronts those experiences over flourishes of language, using his narrative skill to show us a scene, a people, and a place, and he trusts in the raw beauty and grace and pain of those details to do the work for him, which they certainly do.

REBLOGGED FROM:

(Book Review) Galvanized: New and Selected Poems by Leland Kinsey

 

NEWS:
Leland and many of our GWP aithors will be at BOOKSTOCK Literary Festival this summer! You can read about them here: http://bookstockvt.org/2016-presentations/

SummerInternsandFellows
Our interns and summer fellows officially start on Monday!
Please welcome them!

MARGARET SWEENEY, Editorial Intern and Publicity
Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMargaret Sweeney is a native of Brattleboro, Vermont and a recent graduate of Bennington College, where she studied literature and writing. While at Bennington, she interned for the literary organizations Poets House and the Center for the Art of Translation and served as co-editor-in-chief of plain china, the first national anthology of undergraduate student writing. She now lives in Western Massachusetts and works as a part-time bookseller at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.

JESSICA JAUNDOO, Editorial Intern and Marketing
meJessica is an upcoming sophomore at Bennington College and was born and raised in Boston, MA. She has always had a lifelong interest in nature and her friends always find her trying to adopt any animal or critter into her life. With her interest in the field of Biology and the Environment still in its exploitative stages, her long term hobby has always been writing her own stories and coming up with ideas with friends. Inspiration never fails to strike her at any moment and many who know her are curious to see which book she may publish in the future.

RON ANAHAW, January-February Field Work Intern and 2016 Summer Fellow
RonAnahawRon Anahaw has three things close to his heart: RonAnahawCandid
his loved ones, writing, and Korean fried chicken. With a hand on playwriting, poetry, journalism, and fiction, he considers himself a jack-of-all-trades in writing. He is a big believer in trying to keep the world habitable. He is as quick to crack a joke as he is to ask you to collaborate. Ron is a first-year student at Bennington.

 

KAIYA LEWIS-MARLOW, Editorial Intern
KaiyaLewis-MarlowKaiya is a first term Bennington student with a passion for literature and social change. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and was raised with close ties to the local farm movement and community there. In her spare time, she enjoys writing speculative fiction, hiking, and making jewelry out of found mechanical objects and polymer clay.

 

KAITLYN  PLUKAS, January-February Field Work Intern and 2016 Summer FellowKaitlynP
Kaitlyn is a first-year student at Bennington College with a passion for any and everything Literature oriented. She firmly believes in the power of literature; both in the way it completely transforms perceptions of the world and in the way it inspires unity amongst communities. Her many years as a Girl Scout and Gold Award recipient have inspired her to enact social and environmental change. Kaitlyn is an avid sock collector, an outdoors adventurer, and is a right-handed writer who is preferential to pens.

And now a word from one of our interns . . . !

IceandAmysView

View of the Connecticut River from Amy’s Bakery Arts Café on Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont. Photo by Kaitlyn Plukas.

~~~~~~~~~~

From inside Amy’s Bakery, you can watch the ice floes drift on the Connecticut River like a herd of large, groggy fish moving downstream, or somewhere, or nowhere.

Alongside this, I’ve learned a lot during my first week in Brattleboro. I’ve learned: how to code manuscripts; that I have a hidden love for Thai food, courtesy of my host family; that copy editing is far more backbreaking than I expected; that when it’s cold enough, you can ice skate on the Meadows; and that Dede Cummings and her vibrant personality is a cure-all for gloom, doom, and any other word that can threaten your day.

I always pictured myself romping around in New York City
with a Didion-esque experience ahead of me

I’ve also learned that I’m happy to fork over pretty much all my money to Mocha Joe’s, as long as their magic brews helps me stay up long enough to finish work for a press as great as Green Writers Press. And, thanks to my irresponsible nighttime-sips, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Brattleboro’s sky from dusk to dawn.

I’m eating, laughing, exploring, learning, and most importantly, I’m doing work that I love. While I always pictured myself romping around in New York City with a Didion-esque experience ahead of me, yellow curtains and all, I’ve learned that I’d be happy to work away in a place like Brattleboro, for a place like Green Writers Press. (As long as I can get some of Bamboo Garden’s pad Thai, that is.)

—Ron Anahaw, Bennington College intern/Field Work

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

A note from the editor: The American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits took place January 8–11 at the Boston Convention Center. GWP had a table for the first time. Our resident Bennington College interns Ron, Kaitlyn, and Emy love libraries! Our far-flung interns, Ferne and Kaiya, are holding down the fort and Skyping in from New Orleans and Chapel Hill, respectively.

BenningtonInternsGrid

Our fabulous interns, from left to right: Kaiya Lewis-Marlow, Ferne Johansson, Emy Blohm, Kaitlyn Plukas, and Ronald Anahaw.

We are lucky to have such a great group of hard-working students from Bennington College!

 

Notes from June, 2015

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
—John Donne

~~~~

Greetings to our Green Writers Press Community,

My daughter, Emma, is doing okay after such a tough car accident June 4th. Next Thursday, I will help get her settled in an outpatient rehab apartment in NYC. I am in awe of her strength and so proud of her spirit—her cousin, Molly, a junior high English teacher at Horace Mann, is also doing well, and both girls will be walking after Labor Day! I am trying my best to get things back up to speed with the press and it is going well—it is great to be back at work after a month spent at Yale-New Haven Hospital. I am so fortunate to be part of a community of understanding writers, editors, printers, and readers! Our books may be a bit delayed—but not by much! The big news is I have the help and support of two fabulous interns, An Nguyen (from Bennington College) and Flannery Wiest (Smith College). Thanks to everyone for the prayers, meditations, thoughts and kind words.
—Dede

Here is what Flannery has to say about becoming an intern with the press, and how she got here:

~~~~~

Flannery Wiest, GWP summer editorial intern, has a nice view from her daily reading in Northampton, Mass.

Flannery Wiest, GWP summer editorial intern, has a nice view from her daily reading in Northampton, Mass.

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