Monday, July 11, 2011

Opening Day of the Residency, Vermont College of Fine Arts

Rainbow over College Hall, Vermont College of Fine Arts
I flew out at dawn Friday from Seattle to Montpelier for the Summer Residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I teach in the graduate Writing for Children and Young Adults program. For the next several days I'll post a thing or two when I can for the alumni out there who want to see what's up and/or who are trying to cure themselves of the addiction to VCFA. That's a hard thing to do, because the energy level at VCFA is so high during the residencies that you begin to feel like your feet don't have to touch the ground in order to move. It's a rush, it's extraordinary and yes, addictive. I've never found the right way to describe the atmosphere on campus each January and July as we shape-shift from the low-residency experience into our intensive residency community.

For starters, I get to see good, good friends on the faculty, and it's always a privilege to listen to their lectures - I learn so much from them. This time around, since our student body is growing fast, we've hired new faculty, and I especially look forward to meeting them - Mark Karlins, Tom Birdseye and Bonnie Christensen.

And for our guests this time around, we have Walter Dean Myers, Diane Stanley, Marc Aronson, Marina Budhos and Jan Spivey Gilchrist. What a feast!!! 

Over the eleven-day residency the graduating class members read from their creative theses and deliver craft-oriented lectures of their own, and there's always one afternoon when we deliver prizes and scholarships - to gasps and wild applause - which is one of my favorite moments each residency. Having just finished advising the Picture Book Semester students, I'll watch with special pride during their 90-minute presentation featuring PB-focused studies - can't wait to hear that. And then there are the workshops, where students are so brave about putting their own creative efforts out for other people to look at, praise and puzzle over.

We have a stellar group of Graduate Assistants coming back to help us with all the details of planning, presenting, workshopping, trouble-shooting, helping new students get adjusted, etc. I don't know how we would do it without them, and I love hearing them read from their works-in-progress. Every summer our residency also coincides for the first weekend with the Alumni Mini-Residency, so I get to see former students and get an update from them about how their writing (and their families, jobs, etc.) are going.

I delivered the opening lecture tonight (about getting into "a riddling frame of mind") and I hope I set the gears in motion, idea-wise, and hope also that the gears will continue to mesh through the entire residency - it's always kind of a miracle, the way that well-oiled "idea-machine" moves along.

I'll have bits and pieces about what's up for the next ten days, so check back....

[Later Note: Well, I never found time for more "bits and pieces"! That's so typical of our residencies...jam-packed, few breathers. What was I thinking?] 


  1. Oooh Bravo, Julie. I didn't realize that yours was the opening night lecture. Fabulous. It will get all their brains a working.

  2. Thanks for this, Julie.
    I am homesick for VCFA this week. (First time I'm not as rez, and I don't know when it will be possible for me to ever be back in Vermont.)

    I really wanted to hear your opening lecture too. You've given so many teasers about it over the past few months . . .
    um, better stop thinking about missing it and you and everyone else or the homesickness will hurt too much and I don't like crying either.

  3. Lovely! I'll be reading from the west coast. Thanks for posting, Julie.

  4. I would love to join you someday, Julie! It seems like an amazing experience.

  5. What we need is one of those transporter-dealies* they used in Star Trek - "Beam me up, Scottie" - so we could bring everyone here in a matter of seconds (and no fossil fuels and no stuck-at-JFK problems!)

    *I know "transporter-dealies is not the official name.

  6. Kirby, we need to get you out here for a guest visit!

  7. I second that, Kirby!