Poetry in Action
Pictured above, from left: Dr. Michele Perkins, President of New England College; poet Chard deNiord, poet Stephan Delbos; poet Howie Faerstein; poet Tara Betts; and Jennifer Militello, Program Director of NEC’s MFA in Creative Writing.
Four of New England College’s creative writers, poets specifically, returned to the Henniker campus April 13 for the latest installment of the President’s Speaker Series, held in the Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts.
NEC President Dr. Michele Perkins founded the President’s Speaker Series in 2010 to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals, many of whom have been NEC alumni. “It is important for NEC students to hear successful alumni talk about how they went from being students to accomplished professionals,” Dr. Perkins shared with the audience before the discussion began. “Tonight, it’s wonderful to celebrate our Master of Fine Arts alumni.”
Jennifer Militello, Program Director for NEC’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, served as moderator and led the group of highly talented poets in a discussion about the early days of NEC’s MFA program, their respective careers, and what inspires them. “It is my honor to celebrate the origins of one of the most esteemed and one of the oldest low-residency MFA programs in the country,” Militello stated.
NEC’s MFA in Creative Writing program began in 2001 as an MFA in Poetry. It was cofounded by Chard deNiord, a member of this event’s panel of poets. deNiord served as Program Director until 2008. When Militello joined the program, she expanded it to include other writing genres.
The panel included the following poets.
deNiord is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently In My Unknowing (2020) and Interstate (2015). His other books include The Double Truth, Night Mowing, Sharp Golden Thorn, Asleep in the Fire, and Speaking in Turn. He is also the author of two books of interviews with eminent American poets—Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century Poetry and I Would Lie to You if I Could. He is cofounder of the Ruth Stone Trust and Ruth Stone Foundation and Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing at Providence College. From 2015–2019, deNiord served as poet laureate of Vermont, where he lives with his wife, painter Liz Hawkes deNiord. In 2001, deNiord cofounded NEC’s MFA in Poetry, which later became an MFA in Creative Writing. Learn more at charddeniord.com.
Tara Betts ’07
Dr. Betts is the author of Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. In addition to working as an editor, a teaching artist, and a mentor for other writers, she has taught at several universities. She is the Inaugural Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow at the University of Chicago and founder of Whirlwind Learning Center. Tara can be found on twitter at @tarabetts.
Howie Faerstein ’06
Faerstein is the author of the chapbooks Play a Song on the Drums, He Said and Out of Order and the full-length collections Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn and Googootz and Other Poems. His poetry and reviews can be found in Great River Review, Nimrod, CUTTHROAT, Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, and Nine Mile and online in Verse Daily, Nixes Mate, On the Seawall, Peacock Journal, and Connotation. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he serves as a poetry editor of CUTTHROAT, volunteers as a mentor at the Center for New Americans, and lives in Florence, Massachusetts. Learn more at howiefaerstein.com.
Stephan Delbos ’08
The first Poet Laureate of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Delbos is the author of In Memory of Fire, Light Reading, and Small Talk. Awarded the PEN/Heim Translation grant in 2015, he has translated widely from Czech, including Tereza Riedlbauchová’s Paris Notebook and Vítězslav Nezval’s Woman in the Plural. Two of his plays have been produced: Chetty’s Lullaby about trumpet legend Chet Baker (Viracocha Theater, San Francisco, 2013) and Deaf Empire about Czech composer Bedrich Smetana (Prague Shakespeare Company, 2017). His scholarly work includes The New American Poetry and Cold War Nationalism (Palgrave, 2021). He is a co-founder of the web journal B O D Y (bodyliterature.com).