VOICES: SMCM Honors Professor Angela Draheim, Poet Aracelis Girmay During Evening to Honor Lucille Clifton

On Thursday, March 1, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) hosted a special VOICES reading sponsored by the Office of the President entitled “Nurturing a Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton.”

Poet Elizabeth Alexander, famous for her presentation of “Praise Song for the Day” at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, came to present the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award to one of her former pupils, Aracelis Girmay.

At the reading, Assistant Professor of Psychology Angela Draheim was honored with the President’s Lucille Clifton award to recognize her “contributions to creating a campus climate of understanding and compassion.” According to Dr. Jordan, students nominated Draheim because of her “uplifting spirit” and “working behind the scenes to ensure others thrive.”

The evening also featured several performances from Brian Gantz, including a song by Clifton’s favorite composer. In attendance for the tender moment were two of Clifton’s daughters, Alexia and Gillian.

The event opened with introductions from Professor of English and Director of the VOICES reading series, Karen Anderson, who asked the audience to consider “how do you keep compassion, community, and justice alive, not just for a night, but through adversity, and over time?”

Anderson invited Michael Glaser to the stage, who spoke fondly of his memories with Clifton before inviting one of Clifton’s former pupils to speak.

President Jordan followed him and spoke of her admiration for Clifton, despite the fact that they had never met. She recalled times of calling on Clifton’s spirit to guide her in leading the college, even calling her her “soulmate.” She then presented Draheim and Girmay their awards, as well as honoring Alexander for selecting the recipient of the Legacy award.

The evening moved forward with musical interludes from Gantz before returning focus back to the poets. Girmay introduced Alexander to the audience, saying, “She is a person who I admire greatly, for the seriousness and joyfulness with which she approaches the world…She reminds her readers how important it is to engage with our full, embodied lives: with what comes, what is coming, and what has left us.”

Alexander read a progression of poetry, starting with Clifton’s work, performing poems such as “won’t you celebrate with me” and “testament.” She then moved through a poem of her own words intertwined with Clifton’s, both pieces dealing with their widowhood. Alexander  performed some original poems, including “First Word of the Mass for the Dead” and “Rally, 2008.”

Alexander then introduced Girmay, saying, “like Lucille Clifton, Aracelis Girmay channels all souls through her soul, and crafts them into carefully made music– her music, of course, is her poems.”

Girmay followed Alexander’s lead, first reading Clifton’s “oh antic god” before moving into her own pieces, including “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made me a Card,” “Second Estrangement,” and “Ars Poetica.”

The night concluded with Glaser prompting the audience to hold hands as a recording of Clifton reading “blessing of the boats” was played. He noted that she once asked students to hold hands at the beginning of class, offering only the explanation that “ holding hands is better than not holding hands.”

The next VOICES reading, a “Writer’s Harvest,” will take place at 8:15 pm on March 8 at Daugherty-Palmer Commons. The event is free and open to the public.

VOICES Series: Alan King

Poet Alan W. King has a hypnotic way of describing food. Cuisines of different locales and cultural traditions are a mainstay of the Maryland poet’s 2017 collection of poetry, “Point Blank,” with the flavors of his childhood seeping into his words. He speaks of his craving for bananas — “spooned body to body / like small yellow kayaks” (“I wanted bananas—”) — or the way his mother cooks curry — “in a bubbling bath of cumin, / turmeric and cayenne pepper” (“The Hostess”) — with reverence, and a cutting and quiet focus that hauls the listener at full strength into King’s memories.

King’s language can have that effect, even when not following the scent trails of barbecue and Caribbean food that are woven throughout “Point Blank.” On Jan. 25, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students were treated to that pull into memory with a selection of King’s poetry at the first VOICES Reading Series event of the spring semester.  

English professor Karen Anderson, director of the VOICES Series, introduced the night’s speaker, saying, “Alan King’s work is big — political, social in its scope, unwavering in its commitments to justice — but it also feels intimate, personal and complex.”

That could be seen throughout the night’s 45 -minute reading, as King used vivid and personal images to draw in the listener, and then at times jolt them from their comfortable place as observers. In one of the night’s most powerful pieces, “Striptease,” King describes an incident in which his 17-year-old nephew was detained, trying to return a blouse for his mother at Target.

In the poem, King and his wife get the call to pick him up on the way to dinner, told that “the store closes in twenty minutes. / Then he’ll be cuffed and bounced to a detention center.” The poem gets caught again in a tangent of food — the samosas and basmati rice, flying “fragrant kites,” waiting for them at that restaurant they’ll never get to — “But the appetites vanish in the U-Turn.”

King and his wife arrive in time to save their nephew from criminal charges, but not from the humiliation of racial profiling. Many of the poems King shares from “Point Blank” deal with this loss of innocence, forced too early on the young by a system that works against them, showing them violence and violation at every turn. “I’m sick of this striptease / we’re forced to perform when Authority / smacks us back in line for thinking / we’re like everyone else,” King continues in “Striptease.”  

The book’s title comes from a poem of the same name, in which a 12-year-old King is playing with a friend when they find the boy’s father’s gun.

Of his nephew, King says, “The incident at Target / is them popping his cherry.

English professor Jeffrey Coleman also gave introductory remarks before King’s reading. “One thing that I’ve gathered from spending some time with him today,” said Coleman, “is that he is a very compassionate soul, a very caring husband and father [and] of course a tremendous writer.”

Alan W. King lives in Bowie, Maryland, with his wife Jasmine and their two-year-old daughter. A poet, as well as an author, journalist and videographer, King has written for Baltimore’s “Afro-American Newspaper,” and is an alum of the MFA Creative Writing Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine, as well as a graduate fellow of the esteemed Cave Canem program for African-American poets.

The next VOICES Reading Series event is in Cole Cinema, on Feb. 15 at 8:15 p.m. Nationally recognized slam poet Porsha Olayiwola is a student-selected speaker, brought to SMCM in part by the Student Government Association, Black Student Union and Young Progressives Demanding Action.

VOICES Reading: Jennifer Chang

On Oct. 26 at 8:15 p.m., St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) hosted the third installment of this semester’s VOICES reading series at Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC). The speaker was Jennifer Chang, the author of poetry books The History of Anonymity and Some Say the Lark, the latter of which was published earlier this month by Alice James Books.

Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New Yorker, A Public Space, and elsewhere, and as a scholar of poetics, ecocriticism, and modernism, she has published and presented work on the Harlem Renaissance, modernist pastoral, and Emily Dickinson’s global imagination.

Professor of English and VOICES coordinator Karen Anderson said in introducing Chang “Some Say the Lark is also a joyful book in its own quietly explosive way, a book about what I can only call love: for a friend, a parent, a partner, a mother and father, a material world that offers us its mixed miracles unsparingly.”

Chang read poems from both collections of her work, including “How to Live in an American Town”, “Dorothy Wordsworth”, and “The Winter’s Wife”, among others. The poet is interested in exploring emotions through the language of nature. She described her writing process as “entering into a space that is both weather and emotion”, a sentiment that is evident in her work.

Her work fared well with students in the audience. James Schmitt told The Point News that “I thought the reading was interesting due to the poetry’s mature themes. The poems about Wordsworth (“Dorothy Wordsworth”), Thomas Jefferson (“A Horse Named Never”), and fairy tales especially stood out.”

Another of her poems, “Obedience, or the Lying Tale”, drew inspiration from fairy tales. Chang recalled reading Grimm’s Tales with her son, describing the stories as “the place where you first learn about the cost of knowledge.” The poem explores the “dark truths” presented by the stories.

She finished the event with her poem “Sea Song,” joking that we should “pretend it’s called ‘River Song’.

Chang is a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The next VOICES reading will be on Nov. 16, and will feature Joy Castro. The reading will be co-sponsored by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, and will be followed with a question and answer session led by Kortet Mensah, associate vice president of diversity and inclusion at the College.

Student promoter Keith Packard urges students who are interested in gaining a deeper context for the VOICES speakers to reach out to Anderson prior to the event. Seats at the speaker’s dinner may be available for those who express interest.

All VOICES readings are hosted in DPC and are free and open to the public. To view the schedule for this semesters readings, visit http://www.smcm.edu/events/voices-reading-series/schedule/.

VOICES Reading: Jim Ruland and Ben Warner

Authors Jim Ruland and Ben Warner visited St. Mary’s on Jan. 26, leading the first VOICES Reading of the fall semester. The authors were introduced by English professors Karen Leona Anderson and Jerry Gabriel, who recounted their friendships and the literary accomplishments of both readers.  Anderson preceded the readings by saying that the two authors are, “Always pushing at the edges of what is possible. For us, they can model the way that big, ambitious ideals backed by a simple, naked act– the act of putting words down, even when we don’t feel like it– transforms work into something that feels effortlessly fresh and surprising.”

Ruland’s reading consisted of a read-along of a zine (mini-magazine) titled, “The Package,” about a writer who plagiarizes a Portuguese novel in the face of a looming and important deadline. The writer is accompanied on his search for the perfect story by a cat named Cornelius, with an eerie and unsettling backstory involving a package containing a dead rat and an alarm clock with its innards stripped out. Later, Ruland explained that the story was inspired by toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can be transmitted in cat urine and feces and which resides in the human brain. Jim Ruland is the author of the novels Big Lonesome, Forest of Fortune as well as a co-writer of pop-punk artist Keith Morris’ My Damage. He also writes book reviews for The LA Times.

Benjamin Warner teaches courses in environmental writing, fiction writing, and composition at Towson and is the author of Thirst, a dystopian novel about a couple attempting to survive a natural disaster which leaves resources scarce. Warner read his unpublished, work-in-progress short story called In the Surf, which followed a man who wanders the wilderness around an anonymous beach, swimming, observing surfers and vacationers, and wondering about the locals of the beach town. Ruland said that his inspiration came from a recent beach vacation at Chincoteague with his family, remarking, “I was probably imagining what would happen, I shouldn’t say this out loud, but what would’ve happened if I ran away from them.”

The readings concluded with an author Q & A and a discussion of recommended short stories. The next VOICES reading will occur on Thursday, Feb. 7, and will feature Nina McConigley, the author of a short story collection called Cowboys and East Indians, which won a PEN Book Award. The VOICES series is sponsored by the English Department, the Arts Alliance, and The Lecture and Fine Arts Committee.

Chandler Presents Nature Notes at VOICES Reading

On Thursday, Feb. 14, students and staff temporarily put aside Valentine’s Day plans to attend the second VOICES reading of this semester’s series, featuringSt. Mary’s own Associate Professor of English, Kate Chandler. The reading, held in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC), included a variety of humorous and lighthearted environmental pieces featuring such things as mushrooms and feathered friends.

“It seems fitting that we are celebrating Kate Chandler’s writing on Valentine’s Day,” said Karen Anderson, Assistant Professor of English. “For me, her students, her colleagues, and her friends; we love her.”

The event began with four students presenting short readings of some of their favorite Chandler passages.

Following the readings, Professor of English Ben Click introduced Chandler, long time friend and colleague, with an anecdote about the first time they met, twenty years ago in Kent State University while in the doctoral program. Click described Chandler’s writing voice as modest, yet strong and assured. “Make sure you listen for it,” he added.

Chandler is a founding member of the college’s Environmental Studies program and has written and edited “Nature Notes” for the River Gazette, featuring pieces about her experiences with nature.

She began her reading with one such essay, titled “Magical Mystery Mushrooms.” Chandler described these mushrooms in her unique voice, depicting her love of nature and infectious inquisitiveness as she recalled photographing the grayish olive green Russula aeruginea and edible blue Lactarius indigo.

Her “obsessive” documentation led her to discover a particularly intriguing mushroom with a triangular gap in the cap. Chandler humorously recounted finding these mushrooms day after day on the path, until finally discovering the source of the misshapen “fruiting body of fungi,” a turtle.

Her second piece was titled “Weathering Life’s Storms: Lessons from our Feathered Friends.” This essay highlighted Chandler’s encounters with inspirational birds, specifically osprey and Caroline wrens. According to Chandler, these birds were exceptionally good at overcoming adversity, as well as building and rebuilding nests regardless of weather or predators.

“I could learn something from that,” Chandler read.

Her next piece, titled “When I am Brave; Meditations on a Brother’s Drowning,” was a moving essay written in a child’s perspective –an emotional recount of the drowning of Kenny Reynolds, Chandler’s youngest brother, who passed away decades ago at a beloved family swimming hole.

The essay was a reminder that nature can be at once beautiful and violent. Many in the audience claimed feeling touched by the memoir.

Chandler concluded her reading with a piece on discovering downed loblolly pines, describing their incredibly shallow root systems that, in her opinion, should not be able to support these massively tall trees. She recounted walking through a Redwood forest, and noted that these trees too have shallow rooting systems.

Chandler then recalled reading a tree guide that explained how Redwoods remain upright; “Redwoods’ roots literally reach out to others,” she read. “They also intertwine with other trees, and this creates a webbing effect.”

“They teach us a magnificent lesson,” Chandler continued. “These Redwood giants simply could not make it alone. This has me thinking about us as a  community at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; are we Redwoods, or are we Loblollys?”

VOICES Reading: Matt Burgess

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Matt Burgess read to students as part of the VOICES Series. He was low-key, with rectangular glasses, sneakers matched with a black dress coat, and a wonderful sense of humor. So far Burgess has written two books and is about to publish his third.

He prefaced the reading of the gritty novel “Dogfight: A Love Story” with a bit from his upcoming novel “Uncle Jenson.” “Dogfight” is about a “19-year-old drug dealer named Alfredo and his friend Winston who need to steal a pit-bull for a dog fight while also dealing with Alfredo’s newly-released-from-prison brother.” As Burgess explained during the question and answer session, he based the characters on his own friends. Burgess read the excerpt with a clear voice that really brought out the writing style and the subject matter to life.

The novel, published in 2011, is written in present tense which makes it more involved to the reader.

Following is an excerpt from the novel (as provided by Barnes and Noble): “In the middle of Alfredo Batista’s brain there is a tall gray filing cabinet, frequently opened. The drawers are deep, the folders fattened with a lifetime of regrettable moments. There is, tucked away toward the back, a list of women whose phone numbers he never asked for. There are the debts accrued. In the bottom drawer, in separate folders, there are the things he never learned to do: drive an automobile, throw a knuckleball, tie a knot in a cherry stem using only his tongue. What else? In the top drawer, there is a file recounting the evening he left the Mets game early, thinking the run deficit insurmountable. There is the why-didn’t-I-wear-a-condom folder. There is—this one’s surprisingly thin—the crimes-against-my-brother folder… All it takes is a random word, a face in passing, and a memory blooms, a cabinet drawer slides open.”

Burgess had copies of “Dogfight” for sale where he also autographed them and answered more questions. One of the attendees, Hannah, said the reading was “great, funny, and surprising” and that Burgess was “a down-to-earth writer who is modest and very entertaining.” Overall, it was a very successful reading and everyone there seemed to enjoy Burgess’ unique writing style.

E. J. Levy Kicks Off 2012-2013 VOICES Series

On Thursday, Sept. 13, in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC), author E. J. Levy began the 2012-2013 VOICES Series by reading her short story, “Theory of Dramatic Action” at 8:15 p.m.

The seats in DPC were completely full—some chairs had to be added to the audience—and students were there for a number of reasons, ranging from fulfilling a requirement, to attending because a friend encouraged them to go, to being interested in the author and her works.

Sophomore Lindsey Leitera, on why she went to the reading, said, “I’m in a creative writing class, so I came to get another perspective, and it’s also a requirement.”
On another end of the spectrum, senior Marty McGowan said, “I am very uninformed about the author. To be honest, my roommate asked me about five minutes ago if I wanted to come to this.”

As the evening began, Levy was introduced by Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, of the English Department. Professor Cognard-Black described Levy as being “like a blue moon, both special and rare,” and like a “minor deity,” because by the time she had reached graduate school, she had already been published.

“Theory of Dramatic Action,” a piece that follows a young woman who is in the process of coming to terms with her sexuality and her career path, is one of the many short stories in Levy’s newest compilation of works, Love, In Theory; it draws upon a variety of scholarly theories to bring the ideas of thought and love together. Levy attempted to convey the importance of the linking of heart and mind, a link which she claims has been forgotten.

The message of Love, In Theory is a response to the view that art is seen as categorical. Levy said, “Art is not categorical. Everything is up for grabs.” Speaking to this theme, the book that she is currently working on delves into the Enlightenment period in addition to Romantic theories.

At the conclusion of the reading, Levy opened the floor to questions, one of which addressed her writing process. She said she always takes notes in a notebook (even while driving). She added, “When an idea comes to you, it could be nice to have something at hand.”

When asked why she chose to read the piece that she did, Levy responded, “Almost to dare myself. I like to shock people. I read this last week and someone walked out.”
When the evening drew to a close, students were pleasantly surprised and had positive reactions to the reading. McGowan, who had originally tagged along with his roommate, ended up “really enjoying it.”

Junior Kevin Koeser commented, “I thought it was really well done. She engaged me a lot. It got me really interested in reading the rest of the stories she wrote. Her tone was really even, and it caused her dry humor to stand out more and it emphasized the more dramatic moments.” In addition to his appreciation for Levy’s contribution to the series, Koeser bought Love, In Theory and personally had it signed.Love, In Theory, which is now available to the public, was sold for $20 in the back corner of the main room in DPC. Levy enjoyed speaking with St. Mary’s students and other attendees, and even offered to sign copies of her book that were purchased.

VOICES Reading Series Concludes with Author and Editor Hannah Tinti

The VOICES Reading series concluded on Thursday, April 26 with Hannah Tinti, novelist and editor-in-chief of One Story Magazine. The final reading was held in Cole Cinema, rather than the usual location for the VOICES readings, Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).

Assistant Professor of English Jerry Gabriel, who has worked with Tinti on One Story Magazine, introduced the speaker. “It’s important to note that Hannah is a tireless worker for literary fiction,” Gabriel said. “As editor of One Story, Hannah has jumpstarted the careers of many young writers.”

Gabriel also commented on Tinti’s collection of short stories, “Animal Crackers,” which explores the animalistic side of human nature. According to Gabriel, Tinti “uses animals as a lens through which we see ourselves. These stories will shock you . . . this book is as alive as most of its animals are.”

Tinti cites her inspiration to write suspense as coming from her experience of growing up in Salem, Massachusettes.

“When people meet me, they say, ‘you look like such a nice young woman, why do you write such dark and creepy things?’ Then I tell them I grew up in Salem,” Tinti said. “Salem is Halloween 365 days a year, so I feel very comfortable in the suspense genre.”

The reading began with an interesting piece about Tinti’s experience as a child injuring her left arm in a graveyard, a story that she submitted as part of “The Post-it Note Diaries” project. This project involved a series of post-it note illustrations that coincided with the story, which created a comic-like effect as Tinti read her piece. The story was well received by the audience, and resembled a dark fairytale or ghost story.

Another source of inspiration she felt contributed to her work was real-life events, however this does not occur on a conscious level. Tinti claims that she will often write pieces with ties to her past life events subconsciously.

“One thing I learned over the years is to trust my unconscious mind,” Tinti said. “Even when you don’t intend to write about something, you still write about it. Things that happen end up following you.”

Tinti’s best-selling novel, “The Good Thief” has won a variety of awards, including the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award.

According to Tinti, “The Good Thief” is about the idea of resurrection and rebirth, and is set in New England in the 1800’s. The novel is about an orphan boy named Ren, who gets caught up helping “Resurrection Men”, a name for grave robbers of the time-period. According to the writer, it was only when she nearly finished the novel that she realized that she had written Ren as having lost his left arm – perhaps stemming from her own subconscious memory of cutting her left arm when she was young.

“That’s an example of your subconscious making connections that you aren’t even aware are happening,” Tinti said.

Tinti concluded her reading with a question and answer session, where she gave away a wishing stone and a variety of prizes to students who asked questions. In response to a question about her process as a writer, Tinti admitted that she does not plot her stories before writing them.

“The trick is, if you are bored while you’re writing, whoever is reading it will also be bored. And so I ask myself, ‘What is the craziest thing that could happen?’ And then I do it,” Tinti said. “First draft: go crazy. That’s what I always tell all my students.”

According to Tinti, her greatest challenge as a writer is the actual writing part, and she cites rejection as the second greatest challenge. “You have to learn to become hard,” Tinti added. “Every submission you send out, expect to be rejected, and create a ritual to deal with it. You have to figure out what works for you.”

Voices Reading Features Author Peter Ho Davies

On April 5, students and staff filled the seats of Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC) as author Peter Ho Davies, one of the most anticipated VOICES Reading series presenters of the year, read excepts from his widely anthologized short stories.

Davies is the author of several novels, including “The Welsh Girl,” written in 2007, “Equal Love,” and a collection of stories entitled “The Ugliest House in the World.”

While introducing Davies, visiting Assistant Professor of English Jerry Gabriel commented on the versatility that the author uses when writing. “His characters grapple with love and loss, but also with cultural identity and imperialism” Gabriel said. “We’re incredibly lucky to have him here with us.”

Davies often writes about the experience of being biracial, as he himself was born to Welsh and Chinese parents. He began his reading with a short story titled “Minotaur,” a humorous piece that used the half-man half-bull creature that originated in Greek Myth to comment on the struggle of being caught between two worlds.

This touching and funny piece played off the word “half” to depict not only the mixed-race of his character, but also to emphasize adolescence as a time in which the speaker was “half child, half adult.” Davies expertly used the myth of the Minotaur to highlight the struggle of having to make a choice between two differing cultural identities.

Later in the reading, Davies spoke animatedly about his experience as a teacher. He has taught at the University of Oregon and Emory University and is currently on the faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

His second piece called, “What You Know,” was about a creative writing teacher, whose student committed suicide. Davies made it a point to assure the audience that the speaker was not based off of him. This piece was much darker, and followed the speaker’s twisted stream of consciousness as he considers a variety of moral and ethical questions.

According to Davies, in order to avoid having his new writing held to a standard set by the previous work he has written, Davies never writes in the same style or genre as his previous pieces.

“One of the biggest competitions we [as writers] struggle with is the competition with ourselves,” Davies said. “I never write the same thing twice.”

Davies’ work has appeared in anthologies such as “Best American Short Stories” and he was named as one of the top twenty “Best of Young British Novelists” by Granta magazine. His novel “The Welsh Girl” was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2007, and short-listed for The Galaxy British Book Awards “Richard and Judy Best Read” in 2008. Davies is also a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

 

Maloof Speaks for the Trees at VOICES

Biologist, writer, activist. On Mar. 8, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Department of English and the VOICES Reading Series presented Joan Maloof, an artist whose passion for old growth forests is rooted in these three professions.

Nearly every seat was filled in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC) as the author of “Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth” and “Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest” presented excerpts from her novels.

Associate Professor of English and Environmental Studies Coordinator Kate Chandler introduced Maloof, sharing an anecdote of how the two met. “It was in a forest that I first met Joan,” Chandler said. “We were on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, attending an environmental literature conference. We went on a field trip after hours of a very bumpy bus ride into this forest that was in a deep valley in Vancouver Island and we walked through a Pacific coast old-growth forest. The trees were giant.”

Chandler described the trees in these forests as having been the width of DPC and as tall as a building thirty stories high.

“You were awestruck by these trees,” Chandler added. “Partway through the hike, I saw a woman standing by one of the largest trees taking notes. It was Joan Maloof, and I learned that she had written a book about these trees and was working on another book. She was writing about these trees, and it was intriguing to me that her book was comprised of essays rather than documentations of scientific experiments, so I got it – and now I get it. I get why this scientist has added creative writing to her list of accomplishments, to bring others into the forest with her.”

Maloof began her reading by sharing three sections from her first book, “Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest.”

Her first excerpt, entitled “Grandfather trees,” passionately portrayed how it is a common belief that gigantic Grandfather trees – the kind that Chandler described in the old-growth forest – hardly exist anymore.

Maloof also shared forest statistics for Maryland gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating that Maryland has approximately 8 billion trees. However, 95 percent of these trees are less than five inches in diameter. Furthermore, only two percent of the forest trees are the width of the average person’s shoulders or wider. Less than .1 percent are Grandfather trees.

“I think some trees should just be trees,” Maloof read. “I think some trees should be allowed to do whatever they want, and be able to die of old age, right where they’re standing. Whatever the fates hold in store, is what we should allow for these trees . . . Grandfather trees are the ones closest to death, yet they are also the ones with the most to teach us.”

She continued the reading with three sections from “Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth,” her second novel. In this book, she answered the question that most readers asked after reading “Teaching the Trees:” where can I find an old-growth forest? Maloof outlined directions for her readers, with hopes that they too can experience these amazing forests.

Currently, Maloof is a professor emeritus from Salisbury University where she teaches biology and environmental studies. She has recently founded a non-profit organization called the Old-Growth Forest Network, which strives to ensure the survival of ancient forests for future generations to enjoy.

“She set out to save the trees,” Chandler said. “County by county she is asking citizens to set aside parcels of trees that will not be cut, will not be managed, and will not be touched. We may not have old growth forests in St. Mary’s county, but we could in several hundred years.”

More information on the non-profit organization can be found by visiting www.oldgrowthforest.net.