Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vermont College of Fine Arts - First Full Day

The green at Vermont College of Fine Arts

First impression of the day: Oh, my gosh, we're a talky and a noisy bunch! This afternoon Noble Lounge filled up with the roar of the crowd - faculty, staff, adiministrators and the whole student body. Once the microphone is tapped and people sit down and finish clapping, the temporary silence is almost deafening.

Sharon opened things up by remembering Summer 2006 when Tom Greene was "morphing out of his existence as a Program Director into being the President of a brand new college." We're are still very aware that, though VC has a long history, VCFA is a new entity - it's still exciting to think back when decisions were being made about which direction we would go.

Margaret Bechard was given a standing ovation when Sharon introduced her as the new Faculty Chair. Anyone who knows Margaret knows how lucky we are to have her here - focused, articulate and funny. My favorite from her welcoming introduction: The description of VCFA as a kind of Brigadoon for those of us who live out on the West Coast - it appears magically out of the mist every six months. Another favorite moment: Margaret reminding us that children's literature is "our passion, our responsibility and our joy."

Jess Leader wrote the lyrics for a VCFA version of The Beverly Hillbillies (substitute favorite buzz words from the Writer's Toolbox) and presented the faculty and Katie and Susannah with a new "VCFA Yearbook" called "The Hilltopper." Fabulous photos of good times over their two years in the program - plus funny bios of the faculty and parodies of the NYTimes Bestseller List. PLUS room for autographs! DP Pignataro brought the whole project to fruition, and Sue LaNeve wrote funny/sweet quatrains about each advisor. Lots of fun.

1st-semester students gathered to talk with the faculty - for those of you reading this who are alumni, do you remember how that felt? Probably a little intimidating - way too much information coming at you way too fast. But for the advisors, it's great - fresh faces, new students to get to know.

BIG THUNDERSTORM AND POURING RAIN after dinner. Very dramatic.

Tim Wynne-Jones delivered the Opening Night Lecture, all about "reading yourself seriously" by looking for moments of "genius" (not Einstein-style but Muse-style) where you were unconsciously planting the seeds for solutions to your plot problems. He talked about the writer's toolbox and about using tools as carpenters use them, "constructing a fit habitation for the mind." Favorite serious quotation: "Despite the fragility of words, you construct durable works that matter." Favorite funny moment (those who know Tim know there are plenty of these) came when Tim, discussing the idea of over-revising, said, "When you massage someone for too long, it hurts!"

Applause. More rain. More thunder. A good first full day of the residency.

More tomorrow.


  1. Julie, thanks for the posts! It's only been a year and a half since I graduated, but it seems longer ago. Your post about the first day brings back many memories about my first residency in Jan. 2006, which was so rife with tension and conflict about whether the program would continue. And yet all the returning students were obviously so happy to see each other again.

    That first residency I remember being skeptical about how much I would care about my classmates, yet in a few days I'm returning to VCFA to see them during the alumni reunion. It'll be great to see in person how VCFA is evolving.

  2. Julie,
    I love following this! It makes me wish I was there.

    Can't wait to see you Thursday when I arrive!

  3. Thanks, Julie, for your report! I feel like I'm almost there. Wait! I am almost there. See you soon!

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