Visiting Writers Series: Maria Flook

On Thursday, March 27th, author Maria Flook read her work to the community. She is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod and My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister’s Disappearance. Flook has been published in many genres including: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She considers herself a storyteller and is passionate about her craft.  

Flook has also published two collections of poems, “Sea Room” and “Reckless Wedding,” winner of the Houghton Mifflin New Poetry Series.

After the event, the students were able to meet and talk to Flook at a book signing.

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Encounters: Mary Louise Pratt

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Mary Louise Pratt

Monday, March 17th: Globalization and Language 

On Monday, students and faculty filled The Landing for scholar Mary Louise Pratt’s presentation on globalization and language. Pratt first became involved in the research of globalization and language when she felt there was, in her words, “nobody talking about it.” Languages are being lost at a faster rate now than ever before; every two weeks the last speakers of a language die.

There are five elements language learners must have to be successful: time, effort, desire, input, and opportunities to use the language. Lacking any of these is detrimental to maintaining a mastery of a given language. A good example of this can be found in the push for high schoolers to develop proficiency in a foreign language before entering college or the workforce; while the intentions are laudable, what often happens is that students, once beyond the classroom, are left without opportunities to speak the foreign language. As such, their proficiency in that language quickly diminishes.

On another note: Language is subjective; words and meanings count more or less for different people. And this elasticity, that human comprehension is capable of, can become problematic. To clarify, our ability to produce language is smaller than our ability to comprehend it. This creates a complicated dynamic between speaker and listener.

Furthermore, language is becoming murkier because of the production of translingual pieces.  For example, Pratt showed a video of the Bolivian rap group, Ukamau Y Ke, who mix languages in their works—according to Pratt this is a form of linguistic rebellion. Written literatures, compared to these highly transmittable aural forms, are limited because globalization does not increase the number of languages used in literature.

The future of global language is uncertain. But Pratt expressed in this eye-opening presentation the importance of embracing all linguistic forms and mediums—because of this uncertainty.

Wednesday, March 19: Workshop on Translingual Poetry 

Two days later, students and faculty rejoined Mary Louise Pratt for a workshop on translingual poetry. Participants were divided into four groups, and each group analyzed a different poem. For each work the following questions were considered:

  • How are the two languages brought together?
  • By what means are they brought together?
  • What relation is created between them?

This hands-on workshop served as an extension of her presentation on Monday, and it gave participants the opportunity to experience her work for themselves.

For those that may have missed the workshop and want to experience one of Pratt’s activities, continue reading: Click on the hyperlink of comedian George Lopez’s stand-up. Watch it and ask yourselves the following:

  • How many character do you observe?
  • What do the accents, bilingualism, and phonetics communicate?
  • What is the relationship of the two languages?
Mary Louise Pratt

Mary Louise Pratt

Thank you so much Mary Louise Pratt for an insightful and engaging look into globalization, language, and translingual poetry!

English Majors Translate and Participate in Reading

UMF English majors take part in a wide variety of campus activities—from student clubs to poetry readings.

Recently, students in Prof. Clint Bruce’s advanced French course joined acclaimed Canadian poet Serge Patrice Thibodeau, visiting UMF from neighboring New Brunswick, to read selections from two books of his travel essays, Lieux cachés (Hidden Places, 2005) and L’Attrait des pôles (Polar Attractions, 2013). Students from the course read their original English translations alongside Thibodeau’s French texts.

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Back Row, from the left, Prof. Clint Bruce, Ashton Carmichael (English), Kyle Manning (English/Creative Writing), Christopher Coleman (Math), Sarah Poeydomenge (French Language Assistant), Serge Patrice Thibodeau (visiting writer)
Front Row, from the left, Amanda Barrows (International and Global Studies), Kaitlin Flanders (Elementary Ed), Hannah Somes (Elementary Ed), Carolyn Newhouse (English), Leah Hayden (Elementary Ed), Nate Fritts (Creative Writing), and Brittany Dubus.