The Arts at UNCG

Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 by William Davis under Uncategorized.

Last month, I attended a reading by Lee Zacharias, a retired UNCG professor, and I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the artistic atmosphere around campus. Zacharias, who recently published a collection of essays called The Only Sounds We Make, has had her work featured in several literary journals, including some of the most prestigious, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Lee Zacharias

Lee Zacharias

She has obviously accomplished a great deal as a writer, and while I don’t want to be self-serving by discussing the MFA program, I think it’s worth noting how professors, alumni, and students are using their time at UNCG to help propagate the arts.

For instance, Ansel Elkins, who graduated with an MFA in poetry and attended last week’s reading, has quickly become one of the literary community’s rising stars. After winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize (which I featured in a blog last semester), she was asked to do an interview with The New Yorker, arguably the most respected literary journal in the world. The interview illustrates how Elkins used the prize to further her career while also highlighting her creative process. Just about every writer dreams of getting their work published in The New Yorker—let alone being featured in an interview—and yet there is little doubt that Elkins’s career will only continue to grow. For the poetry fans out there, be sure to keep your eyes on her.

As for current students, Jim Minick recently gave me a copy of his beautiful memoir, The Blueberry Years, which won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance’s Best Nonfiction Book in 2011. To put that award in perspective, some of the recent nominees included David Sedaris and Pat Conroy.Jay Minick's The Blueberry Years

But Minick, who is a second year fiction candidate, hasn’t stopped there. He’s written three other books, mostly of poems, which you can find on his website. I even saw a copy of The Blueberry Years at Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro, so if you’re looking for an enjoyable read that will also teach you something, head on down today.

Second-year poets are also getting their work published (and at a pretty alarming rate). For instance, Courtney Hartnett, has been featured in several literary magazines, including Burningword, which you can read here. Similarly, Michael Pontacoloni has had his poetry published in at least three journals over the last couple years. One of the poems that truly moves me was accepted by Flyway.

And if you’re so inclined, second-year fiction candidate Matt Barrett just published his first story a few weeks ago in Timber Journal. (See how I slipped that in?)

Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the arts are truly flourishing around campus. On September 6th, for instance, the UNCG School of Music, Theatre and Dance presented the annual Collage Concert at 7:30 pm in Aycock Auditorium. The event kicked off “a year-long celebration of William Shakespeare and Galileo Galilei on the 450th anniversary of their births.” Throughout the year, composers, authors, historians, and scientists will present lectures at UNCG regarding the two men, and on October 2nd, the Theatre department premiered “Twelfth Night.” But even if you’ve seen this play before, you’ve probably never imagined it like this: Theatre professor Jim Wren will somehow, someway infuse the timeless comedy with…jazz. For more information about Wren’s vision, you can find it here.

In upcoming blogs, I will continue to highlight the Shakespeare-Galileo performances, so be sure to check back. Also, if you’re looking for a way to stay up-to-date with events around campus and the community, follow The Graduate School on Facebook and Twitter. There, you will be notified of workshops, presentations, lectures, performances, and the list goes on.