Frequency North Presents: Dave King

screen graphic_dec5_1024x768Novelist Dave King will be giving a reading Friday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the College’s Neil Hellman Library, 392 Western Ave., Albany, New York. This will be the conclusion to the first half of the Frequency North reading series.

This event is free and open to the public, and is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Dave King holds a BFA in painting and film from Cooper Union and an MFA in writing from Columbia University; he taught English at Baruch College and Cultural Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York before moving to New York University’s Gallatin School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Of his bestselling debut novel, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “The Ha-Ha is full of emotional truth and establishes King as a writer of consequence.” The Ha-Ha was a finalist for Book of the Month Club’s best Literary Fiction Award and the Quill Foundation’s award for Best Debut Fiction and was named one of the best books of 2005 by the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Several foreign language editions are in print, and a film version is in development. In addition, The Ha-Ha earned Dave King the 2006 John Guare Writers Fund Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

pbKing’s poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Village Voice and Fence, and in the Italian literary journal Nuovi Argomenti; King is also a translator of the Italian poet Massimo Gezzi. He and his husband, the painter Franklin Tartaglione, divide their time between Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley of New York, and a new novel, tentatively entitled The Beast and Beauty, is forthcoming.

The Frequency North spring 2015 lineup will be announced soon. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth.

Intern Profile: Rob Stoddard at the Rensselaer County ARC

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Rob Stoddard (middle, standing) working at the Rensselaer County ARC.

In the spring of 2014, Rob Stoddard interned as an assistant teacher at the Rensselaer County ARC in Troy, New York. This is his experience.

My internship was never very static. Class sizes ranged from four or five students to ten or eleven, so on any given day I needed to make a lesson that presumed I would have full attendance and catered to the needs of each individual student to some extent. Because the students all had different writing levels, I also needed to account for the students that were able to write at higher levels: each writing prompt needed to be both diverse and specific, which meant that the prompt needed to be easy enough for some students to comprehend and write, and also difficult enough that other students could let their creative minds explore and unpack further.

There were also several occasions in which I had to run the class by myself. A typical day was split up between my supervisor and I. I would take the first hour of class, and she would teach the last half. On days where it was all up to me, I was not only required to prepare twice the amount of prompts, but also maintain a focused learning environment, which was never an easy task to accomplish.

Early into my internship I described to the class what exactly I did in school, what I was learning, what my future dreams were, and what my area of study was. When the class learned that I had loved studying copious amounts Renaissance literature, specifically plays, they took a keen interest in creating a script as a class. I was absolutely astounded. The next class I brought in several writing prompts revolving around plot creation, narrative structure, and character creation. The students loved it. It was the most positive response I’d ever received from them. The feeling of knowing I inspired sincere, fun creativity is something I will never forget, and it gave me the reassurance that I was looking for. From that point on I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

This internship was an incredible opportunity. Since I eventually want to teach at the collegiate level, I specifically looked for teaching positions for my internship. When this position became available I immediately applied for it. Being an English major means knowing how to not only write effectively, but analyze effectively as well. This opportunity allowed me to teach my class how to write more proficiently, and it also taught them how to think a little more critically about what it was that they were writing about. I think the correlation between my college career and my professional aspirations are quite clear, and teaching the creative expressions class aided in solidifying my idea of what it takes to become a great teacher.

My advice for other English majors is to not limit yourself. Reach out to your faculty, and embrace their criticism. I would not be the writer I am today, nor would I have publication in the college’s journal, if I hadn’t embraced my instructors’ critiques on my writing. Sometimes it feels like they’re shooting you down or blowing off your ideas completely, but I promise that the comments are meant to make you better. If you take the comments too harshly I don’t think your writing will progress. Ask them to clarify their remarks; use the comments as a chance to learn something as opposed to just brushing them off.

MA Advanced Project Update: Rachel Simonds

2012-05-119511-39 (1)In order to complete the English MA program, students must research and write an Advanced Project. Rachel Simonds is in her last semester at Saint Rose, and these are her thoughts regarding her Advanced Project, as well as her inspirations behind it.

I’ve been commuting to Albany from Caroga Lake since I started my undergraduate work at Sage College.  This is my final semester at Saint Rose, I’ll be completing the MA English program.  I have enjoyed the variety of classes offered and have found that each class is enriching to every other class.  There is always a connection (or several!) between classes.

My Advanced Project is more of a theory based project.  I’m discussing the aesthetic theories of the sublime proposed by Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century and relating it to the work of the Hudson River School painters during approximately the first half of the 19th century.  I am attempting to figure out the relationship between the idea of the sublime and how it is manifested in the physical world.  The discussion centers around the question of how/if/when/why is the sublime communicated.  But, of course, this could all change as I continue with my project.

My Advanced Project has required the basic things of any project, lots of reading and lots of thinking.  In addition to that though, I have also spent a lot of time looking first hand at work done by the Hudson River School painters in order to really see how the theories of the sublime have influenced the work.

I have been interested in the idea of the sublime since my first semester here at Saint Rose.  I took a literary theory course with Dr. Vaneeta Palecanda (who is the director of my advanced project right now, and Dr. Robert Shane is the research consultant) and she first introduced me to the sublime and I have not been able to let go of it since then.  It seems as if every class I take, whether it be theory or literature, has something to do with the sublime! Ask Dr. Sweeney about the sublime in Uncle Tom’s Cabin!  So I chose to work on the idea of the sublime for my Advanced Project to satisfy at least some of my curiosity on the subject.

Intern Profile: Jenna Gragnano at the Northeastern Association of the Blind

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Jenna Gragnano (right) at NABA’s 2014 Visionary Gala.

Jenna Gragnano interned at The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany, or NABA, in Spring 2014. These are her experiences.

At NABA, I was responsible for various tasks while working under the supervision of the Director of Communications and Development, Michele O’Hare. My first assignment was to contact prospective golf courses to see if they were interested in holding a Blind Golf Tournament at their course. One of my many writing assignments including conducting an interview with NABA’s Youth Coordinator, Caterina Marra, about the Youth Program. After interviewing Caterina, I was responsible for writing an article about the Youth Program that ran in NABA’s annual newsletter, Brighter Horizons.

I also helped plan, assemble, and assist at the 2014 Visionary Gala. I wrote the mail invitation letters, as well as worked the wine pull at the event. I was in charge of asking guests if they would like to purchase a wine cork for twenty dollars, and at the end of the night they would receive a bottle of wine ranging in worth from twenty dollars to one hundred dollars. There were eighty wine corks and I successfully sold all of them, raising NABA $1,600. The money raised from the wine pull will allow NABA to continue to provide services to help the blind and visually impaired achieve their independence and growth.

I also learned the basics of how a non-profit organization was run. I worked on small projects such as: stuffing envelopes for mail letters, organizing sweatshirt orders, and decorating for the wine pull as well as putting together advertisement posters for the Visionary Gala.

The first day I interned at NABA, I was asked to make phone calls to a list of country clubs and golf courses to see if they were interested in hosting a Blind Golf tournament. I was given a folder of golf course directories and placed in a room by myself. I can remember feeling overwhelmed and nervous to call the courses. That day, I left forty voicemails to prospective golf courses. I left my internship that day still feeling nervous and worried that I was not going to be an asset to their organization.

My last week at my internship, I was asked to call the golf courses again to confirm a date and time for course play. Michele O’Hare handed the same folder of golf course directories to me and placed me in an office by myself. The feeling of nervousness was far gone, and that is when I realized that I had become comfortable at my internship as well as talking and conversing with others since this time the golf courses were open and someone was available to speak to.

Being an English major has been a blessing in disguise. Although I was originally an Adolescent English Education major, I still was nervous about my choice to become an English major. After interning at NABA, I realized that my major is applicable to a variety of fields and that my possibilities are endless. After I graduate, I plan on volunteering at NABA because I really enjoyed my time there and I want to work with non-profit organizations.

My advice to students in this major is to not always listen to what others have to say being an English major, that it’s a negative for your career. You are gaining an education that leaves you with endless possibilities

Frequency North Presents: Marc Spitz!

On Thursday, November 6, novelist, rock writer, playwright, and memoirist, Marc Spitz will be joining us at 7:30pm in Saint Joseph Hall Auditorium, 985 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12203

In addition, Spitz will discuss his craft in an informal talk and question-and-answer session at 6 p.m. in the College’s Albertus Hall Room 301, 432 Western Ave., Albany, N.Y.

Both programs are free and open to the public.

Spitz is a music journalist and playwright based in New York City. n 1997, Spitz was hired by SPIN magazine, where he wrote over a dozen cover stories on artists as diverse as Axl Rose, Weezer, Trent Reznor, The Strokes, The White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and Franz Ferdinand. In 1998, Spitz’s first play Retail Sluts premiered at screen graphic_nov6_1024x768Todo Con Nada, Dubbed the “hipster playwright,” by local critics, over the next decade Spitz would write (and sometimes co-produce) a dozen more Off-Off-Broadway plays. Spitz’s has written a number of books including: We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk (Three Rivers Press, 2001),  How Soon Is Never?, Too Much, Too Late: A Novel (Broadway, 2006, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day (Hyperion, 2007), Bowie: A Biography (Crown, 2009), and JAGGER: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue (Gotham, 2011), and Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City. His most recent publication is Twee: A History (It Books 2014). His writing has appeared in Uncut, Rolling Stone, Maxim, Blender, Nylon, Harp, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and The New York Times. 

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Intern Profile: Chris Surprenant at Modern Farmer magazine

Surprenant1Chris Surprenant (right) was an editorial assistant at Modern Farmer, based in Hudson, NY. Here is his account.

During my time at Modern Farmer, I was required to do a variety of different tasks for both their print magazine and website. I produced several transcriptions of phone interviews that ranged anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour long. I was also required to create several photo posts using materials from the Library of Congress, and conducted a phone interview that I later turned into a Question and Answer post for their website.

When I was not involved with the writing side of things, I was actively involved in administrative duties that required me to take inventory of their online store items. For this, I created a spreadsheet that included names and addresses of potential places where the magazine would be sold. While I performed a variety of different tasks, creating photo posts and transcribing were my two biggest responsibilities.

summer14I pitched our web editor three or four ideas, and he chose which one he felt would generate the most online traffic. Once I was given the go-ahead, I would spend the afternoon gathering up a collection of photos from the Library of Congress, create a document with the provided captions, and write a short blurb about the spread itself. I then uploaded the photos and captions to their website through WordPress where I would arrange them according to preset guidelines. The following week, the post would be published on a Friday afternoon. As for the transcriptions, they were a tedious but integral part of the writing process for the writers. On average, a half an hour interview could take up to two hours to transcribe without interruption.

I was able to observe how a print magazine is put together and the many steps it takes to actually create a final product. The pitching process was also interesting to observe, as I was able to see what would or would not fit into the magazine and why.

I was definitely able to see the potential of an English major in the workforce, particularly in areas that rely heavily on writing and research. English majors are trained to find answers to hard questions with all of our research papers we write. Also, knowing how to correctly form a sentence is something that is valuable in the news industry. Clarity and the conciseness are things we are taught as undergraduates in our writing, and it is overwhelmingly applicable when writing a story.

The creative muscle of an English major is also incredibly valuable. The “7 Prominent Pop Culture Pigs” post I created required me to be able to phrase their biographies in such a way that was not only humorous, but also clear and brief. These are skills that I feel can be applied to marketing, writing, editing, or research positions in the future. I’ve learned that, as an English major, it’s all about how we market ourselves. We can’t say that we just read a lot of books and wrote a lot of papers. That’s reductive. It’s elaborating on how we did those things that employers will ultimately care about.

For English majors who will eventually be doing their internships, my advice would be to write, write, and write! Modern Farmer liked that I had clips to show them to actually prove I could coherently string words together and write on variety of topics in different ways. Also, it’s a good idea to join clubs where there is a lot of collaboration. My time at The Chronicle not only gave me an outlet to write, but it also required an immense amount of teamwork. I think that those traits are valuable not only for landing an internship, but for functioning in the real world.

Frequency North Presents: Kiese Laymon!

The second event of the Frequency North season is next Thursday with author, Kiese Laymon!

Laymon will read on Thursday, October 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Rose Events and Athletics Center (Standish Rooms, Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany. Copies of his most recent works will be available for purchase and signing.

The program is free and open to the public.

kiese-laymonKiese Laymon is a black southern writer, who earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  Both of Laymon’s book are finalists for the Mississippi Award for Arts and Letters in the fiction and nonfiction categories.  Laymon is currently at work on a new novel And So On, and a memoir called 309: A Fat Black Memoir. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College. Check out his website.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Marc Spitz
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing