Video by Jenny Kelly ’15 & Aimee Castonguay ’14

May 5th, 2015 by Robin

Check out this new short film, based around an ee cummings poem.  Directed by and starring Jenny Kelly ’15, with cinematography by Aimee Castonguay ’14.  Great work by two talented PSU English majors!

Kelly/Castonguay Video

Professor Meg Petersen Delivers Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor Inaugural Lecture

November 12th, 2014 by Robin

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, Professor Meg Petersen delivered the Stevens-Bristow Distinguished Professor Inaugural Lecture: Teacher Stories: Seeing our work, our students and ourselves. Click the link to read her inspiring talk!

Upcoming Lectures & Readings By English Faculty

October 15th, 2014 by Robin

Upcoming dates for: “(Not So) Elementary, My Dear Watson: The Popularity of Sherlock Holmes” (New Hampshire Humanities Council Lecture) PROFESSOR ANN McCLELLAN



Senior Addie Weller Gives Scholarship Talk

October 2nd, 2014 by Robin

PSU Superstar English major Addie Weller was invited to give a keynote address at the 2014 Connections dinner for Scholarship recipients, their families, and esteemed Plymouth State guests.  Here is the text of her speech, posted with her permission:

The Giver as Gold

Addie Weller

Addie Weller

Last year, I was able to take a course in Mysticism, taught by Professor Karolyn Kinane in the English Department. I knew virtually nothing about the subject when I started, but it really opened my mind to new ideas, new sources of inspiration. One of them is the great Sufi mystic, Rumi, once said, “When someone is counting out gold for you, don’t look at your hands, or the gold. Look at the giver.”

Tonight, I look towards all of you, charitable donors, to express my sincere gratitude for all of the support you have given to me, the other students attending tonight, thousands more who are not here, and the entire Plymouth State community.

The other day, I was walking through the center of campus on my way to class. I was carrying a backpack that was heavier than usual, trying to balance my large coffee and stack of books in hand. Unfortunately, for me, it was 11:05 a.m, aka “PSU student rush hour.”

As I swerved around the masses, I couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of community in that moment. Looking around, I saw student organizations setting up tables in front of the Hartman Union Building, anxiously waiting to tell fellow peers about their latest endeavor. I noticed an Admissions tour group, led by several Student Ambassadors who were proudly showing off the campus. I even overheard a student and her professor discussing a research project they were planning to collaborate on throughout the semester.

This is the kind of lively interaction that we may take for granted as part of the college experience. But, anticipating my remarks to you this evening, I saw it in the context of the wider community — including all of you as supporters who make our student lives possible.

I hope you take pride in the many ways that Plymouth State University is well-known for its student achievements, both inside and outside the classroom. Meteorology students have been honored nationally numerous times for their research, while Education students have made Plymouth’s preparation program the envy of New England colleges. Campus-wide, students’ commitment to environmental sustainability has allowed the university to be recognized regionally and globally for their “green” impact. Just recently, the Sierra Club named Plymouth State to its “America’s Greenest Schools” list. Another external source just ranked Plymouth’s students in the top 15% for employability post-graduation. Like many students here, I take pride in belonging to such an institution. And trust me, as a senior, that is especially good news!

Like many students here, I’m proud to belong to such an institution and I’m pleased to see Plymouth State recognized more often for the outstanding quality of education that is taking place here. Yet with national college tuition costs at all-time high, it’s no surprise to find many PSU students struggling to pay for their education. While some families are more financially fortunate, I know of many students who have paid their entire way through school on their own. These students work two, maybe three jobs, in addition to attending class, being involved, and somewhat trying to find time for a social life. The academic work and subsequent success these students, and all Plymouth State students achieve is evident, but what happens behind the scenes often goes unnoticed.

The support students receive surely does not, though, as I know many students would agree with me when I say that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that we do without your generous scholarship assistance. From funding a study abroad trip, to lessening the burden on textbook prices, every little bit really does help.

Without your generosity, Plymouth State University would not be where it is today.

  • ·  We wouldn’t have the new facilities that enrich our experience here on campus.
  • ·  We wouldn’t have such talented and devoted faculty members if your gifts didn’t help topay their salaries.
  • ·  We wouldn’t have all the staff who help us with everything outside the classroom —from the PASS office for a little tutoring assistance, to the Residence Directors in the halls, to the librarians who help us with our research papers, to the coaches who inspire our teams.
  • ·  As I see it, we wouldn’t have PSU as we all know and love it.

As President Steen said, someday I hope to be in your seat and to take my place this at this continuum of giving across the generations. But for now, and especially for tonight, on behalf of myself, other scholarship recipients, and all Plymouth State students, I would like to thank each of you for your generous contributions. In Rumi’s words, I will not look at myself, nor the “gold” I have graciously received. I will look at all of you. Thank you.

Poetry Students Celebrate Chapbooks

May 16th, 2014 by Robin


Student Chapbooks

Photo of Student Chapbooks by Patrick O'Sullivan

In the PSU English Department, Advanced Study in Writing courses offer students opportunities to pursue various genres of writing in greater depth. For the culminating assignment in Professor Liz Ahl’s Advanced Poetry Workshop, students publish and distribute chapbooks of their revised work from the semester and earlier. English major Phillip Cotton calls the project “one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at school.”

At the beginning of the semester, students read and review published chapbooks, and later in the semester, they look at a variety of samples and try some basic book arts techniques such as saddle-stitching and Japanese stab-binding. But throughout the semester, the primary emphasis is the poems themselves, which students write and critique weekly, both in the whole group and with reading/critique partners. Of this workshopping experience at the core of the course, student poet Patrick O’Sullivan wrote:

“Reading poetry from ‘real’ poets helps me learn, but I shouldn’t think that I have nothing to learn from my peers. They write beautiful poetry, craft lines like masters at times, use words in ways that make me jealous. We all discovered things in each other’s writing that [the writers] might not have seen.”

In 2009, Professor Ahl’s short paper about this assignment was selected as one of the Top 20 Pedagogy papers among those submitted to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference and pedagogy forum, where she was invited to speak about creating chapbooks in class. She writes:

“Students are invited to imagine that a particular subject or theme might be best addressed across numerous poems, which is a new concept for most of them. Because of this emphasis on theme and arrangement, at least two workshop sessions are devoted to looking at whole manuscripts in draft form.  Students practice talking to one another about the whole, which often helps them manage (writing, revising, recasting, rearranging) the individual parts.”

“At first the task of creating a 14-24 page book of poetry seems simple enough,” writes student Kim Chandler. “You kind of scoff at it. But as you approach a due date and you really start buckling down on your own revisions outside of class, you start to feel how imposing it is.”  Fellow student poet Cecil Smith agrees, calling the chapbook assignment “one of the most challenging things I have done as a poet thus far.” He also observes that his chapbook, Letters to Pataphysique, “has certainly emerged from my interests as a poet, but it has also altered them.”

The chapbook project’s potential to “alter” a poet’s interests is one of the key benefits of the assignment, according to Ahl. “It’s a culmination, or capstone, but also a commencement of sorts – an embarking by these poets into the world of the poems they’ll write next.”

Advanced Poetry Workshop Photo by Patrick O'Sullivan

Poetry Workshop gives public reading at the Museum of the White Mountains

December 13th, 2013 by Robin

PSU Student Alyssa Carter

For the final class meeting of the Fall 2013 semester, students in EN3140: Poetry Workshop read poems inspired by artwork and ephemera on display at the Museum of the White Mountains. Earlier in the semester, they visited the museum, chose artwork, and composed their drafts. Poetry professor Liz Ahl always tries to incorporate a gallery visit during the Poetry Workshop, which is offered every fall, but this year’s Museum of the White Mountains visit was a slight departure. “Most years we’ve gone to the Faculty Art show in D&M, but this year (MWM Director) Catherine Amidon invited us to come to the newly opened Museum of the White Mountains, so I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity to try something new.” In the past, there was no public reading associated with the assignment to write “ekphrastic” poetry (poetry in response to art), but Ahl is considering making it a permanent part from now on.

Student poet Hayden Leith found that the experience of reading her work standing next to the painting that inspired it brought her artistic process “full circle.” Her classmate Jackie Morin had never written a poem based on art before, but found it enjoyable. Olivia Punch found that multiple evenings spent revising her poem for the public reading helped her appreciate both the artwork and the process behind this particular writing assignment. At the end of the reading, students discussed with museum historian Marcia Schmidt Blaine why they chose certain paintings over others “The students did a great job both reading and talking,” Ahl said.

Poetry Reading by PSU Faculty

November 9th, 2013 by Robin

Click here for info about Ethan Paquin and Ivy Page’s November 21st poetry reading.

Contact Us

English Department

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Phone: 603-535-2746
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Dr. Ann McClellan, Department Chair
Office: Ellen Reed 15
Office Phone: (603) 535-2683