Tag Archives: Susan Carkin

Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin Poetry Event

On Tuesday, April 19 the Honors Program and the Cultural Competency Professional Development Committee co-sponsored an amazing poetry event. Internationally-renowned Brazilian poet, Salgado Maranão, and Alexis Levitin, the translator of two of Salgado’s books into English, spent the afternoon and evening on Lane’s campus. Honors faculty member, Sarah Lushia, knew Alexis. She initiated the event and coordinated Alexis’s and Salgado’s visit to our campus.

Prior to the event, we gave copies of their collections, Blood of the Sun and Tiger Fur, to the honors students. Salgado and Alexis spent an hour in the afternoon reading and sharing stories with the students.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Salgado read “Mater,” a poem he wrote for his mother. He, with Alexis translating, explained how strong and determined his mother was in the face of great difficulties. He described her love of language and poetry, attending mass in Latin the one time a year a priest came to their area even though she did not understand Latin. He noted that if she had been in the upper class, a plaza or boulevard would have been named for her.

Honors Dean, Susan Carkin, noted the shared elements between his poem and “The Arrival of My Mother New Mexico Territory, 1906,” a poem by Keith Wilson. She sent me the link and also mentioned this poem to Alexis and Salgado. I hadn’t known of Wilson’s poem, and learning of it was one of many memorable poetry moments I experienced that day.

Salgado is also a lyricist and has worked with some of Brazil’s jazz and pop artists. Poet Frank Rossini (and also husband of the event organizer, Lynn Nakamura) suggested that Salgado and Alexis speak with music students. After the session with the honors students, they spent part of the afternoon with several music majors.

Salgado, Alexis, several honors students, a few faculty members, and the honors dean had dinner together in the Renaissance Room on Lane’s campus. Great food . . . great conversations up and down the table . . . and book signings . . . a perfect transition from the afternoon gatherings to the evening event open to the public.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane's Renaissance Room.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane’s Renaissance Room.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

On our walk over to the Center for Meeting and Learning, Alexis and I discussed Cid Corman and his connection to Japanese poetry.

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Alexis mentioned that Salgado had written a poem about a snake whose movements were so smooth and so reassuring that it lured a frog into its embrace. Salgado has an interest in Japanese poetry and performs the poem with Tai Chi movements.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem later that evening.

We also found we had a shared acquaintance in Dennis Maloney, publisher of White Pine Press. Dennis and I have both published Cid’s poetry and Dennis published the bilingual edition of Tiger Fur.

The evening event was spectacular! Lynn Nakamura organized everything beautifully. Brazilian music, including one of Salgado’s songs that he sang along to, played as people arrived. Linda Reling had a book table set up at the back of the room where I caught President Mary Spilde buying copies of the books.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Anyone who has ever heard Mary give a talk knows there will be poetry interspersed among her comments!

Chief Diversity Officer Greg Evans gave a wonderful introduction to begin the evening.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

For two hours, Alexis and Salgado read, commented, shared more stories, and answered questions.

Creating opportunities like this for the students and the community is something Lane Community College does well. It is also a perfect way for the Honors Program to do something that is central to honors education: provide exceptional educational opportunities to the honors students and contribute to the larger campus community. We have many more events planned for next year!

And Then There Were Two: The New Configuration of the Honors Program’s Administration

We are in the fifth year of the honors program, and after several iterations of honors administrative leadership, the college has settled on a tentatively permanent structure: a dean and a faculty coordinator. This may not sound like a significant decision, but we have built this program with an ever-changing team. It is exciting and anxiety-producing to think we have some stability now even with fewer people working on the program.

We began with two faculty coordinators (Nadia Raza and me), each working on the program part time. Then Nadia stepped down and Katie Morrison-Graham came on board, although for a time the three of us were working on honors together.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Then we switched to one coordinator. Even though I was the only coordinator, I was still working on the program part time. We originally had an administrative support person, as well, who also handled advising and marketing. Then we lost that position and replaced it with a new administrative support position minus the advising component and some of the hours. We had no academic dean initially, although we have had one for the past few years. So many starts and stops. So many changes. There were moments when I felt like our program resembled the blackberry bushes I saw while hiking at Mount Pisgah yesterday in this unusually warm November: clusters of dried berries with a few new red and black berries mixed in.

Blackberries

What season are we in again? Are we winding down, starting up, or carrying on?

Fortunately, we’ve had a leadership team comprised of intelligent, motivated, thoughtful people who have helped support what we called “the core team.” I know the leadership team will continue helping honors to thrive. Our “core team” is now comprised of me and my dean, Susan Carkin. Susan has been on the Honors Leadership Team from the program’s inception and attended the National Collegiate Honors Council conference with me.

Susan Carkin

Susan Carkin

The Language, Literature, and Communication Division’s Lead Administrative Coordinator, Linda Schantol, has generously taken on some of the administrative support that had been provided elsewhere.

Linda Schantol

Linda Schantol

Having a permanent faculty coordinator position with 75% of its workload dedicated to directing the program, and having the coordinator work one-on-one with the academic dean, will provide the stability and continuity the program needs. It’s a sign that the college is committed to serving all of our students.

Thinking this morning about the program’s history and this new opportunity to dedicate so much of my focus to coordinating this program, I found myself recalling Jorie Graham digging her hands into the absolute (“The Visible World”). The seeds are planted.