Poet William Wordsworth once said that “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.” Last week, the Happening Series commemorated just that through poems, fiction and art.
On Wednesday, March 21, the Happening Series had its largest turnout yet. More than 50 people filled the Franco-American Center for the multi-disciplinary, genre-fluid collaborative series curated by University of Maine students. This event celebrated various forms of writing such as fiction, essays, and poetry as well as diverse mediums of art that included paintings and woodblock prints were displayed in the venue.
At 6 p.m., guests grabbed last bits of cheese and hummus and returned to their seats on mismatched, one-of-a-kind chairs of the Franco-American Center. An artistic mess of crayons, paint and magazine copies were nonchalantly spread on the hors d’oeuvre table at the entrance area which Brendan Allen and Kat Dubois, co-organizers of Happening Series, dubbed as the “Green Room.” Daffodils and tulips brought signs of spring to the lamp-lit room with old-fashioned yellow wallpaper.
Matt Hammond, a fourth-year English student from New Hampshire read his witty fiction piece to the audience that couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Distinguished writer and professor of English, poetry and poetics, Jennifer Moxley followed Hammond with a reading of her two most recent essays. Jill Hughes, co-founder of the Happening Series and a graduate of the Master of English program at UMaine shared her poems with the audience that invested into every word she read. Then followed a short break where guests had a chance to see Hughes’ prints and ask writers questions about their work.
“One of my favorite parts of the Happening Series is this time in between, where people are meeting each other, introducing each other, and eating tons of snacks,” Allen said. “It’s also a social event, which is important.”
After the break, Mary Manley took the center seat to answer questions about her art. She displayed four paintings on the walls of the venue, one of which was still in progress. Manley felt that it was important to showcase works that are still in the process of being developed. She also displayed three prints created in various printmaking styles such as monoprinting and woodblock printing.
The audience asked Manley questions about one of her louder pieces that featured pink dildos above a church in Bangor. Her witty response swooned the audience into realizing that Manley’s art is fun, unforced and most of all, unique.
When asked which medium is her favorite, Manley shared that each art form is different and challenging in its own way.
“With mono-prints and woodblock, if you mess up, you can’t go back and fix it,” Manley said. “Whereas in painting, you can do that, your piece is never really done and you don’t know when it will be done.”
Another medium that Manley practices is steel sculpting. “I feel like a warrior when I’m welding,” Manley said. “I have to wear a helmet and there are metal sparks flying everywhere.”
David Kress, associate professor of English concluded the artistic event. Kress shared that he got into writing because of a bet he made with his younger brother years ago. On a whim, Kress told his brother that he’ll write a book one day. His brother didn’t want him to stop by writing just one book, increasing the number that Kress promised to write to five. During Spring Break, Kress finished writing his fifth book, excerpts of which he read at the Happening Series. This humorous piece kept the audience laughing, sometimes uncontrollably. Kress conveyed exceptional storytelling skills, utilizing his tone, body language and facial mimics. As soon as he finished, the audience burst into loud, well-deserved applause.
It was the first Happening Series that UMaine student Thomas Hayden attended.
“I was very pleasantly surprised, it was a lot of fun, I think I will come again,” Hayden said. “Especially at a college campus, establishing confidence and writing abilities is a positive.”
If he could sum up Happening Series to someone who’s never attended one before, Hayden would say that it’s an “event for people who love culture, just to get together and experience it together and maybe share ideas.”