News

Published:

November 29, 2018
 
Tagged: Adelphi University, Department of English, Creative Writing

An Evening With Igor Webb, Village of Crickets and Christopher Smart’s Cat

News


by Kurt Gottschalk

Igor Webb, Ph.D., author, critic, professor, and director of the Adelphi University Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, and poet John Matthias spoke like old friends on the small stage in the basement of The Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan’s West Village. They are, in fact, old friends, but the spirit of the evening also carried the congeniality cultivated by Village of Crickets, the unique student/alumni/faculty literary association that is an outgrowth of the program.

The November 7, 2018, gathering was in celebration of Dr. Webb’s latest book, Christopher Smart’s Cat (Dos Madres Press, March 2018), an unusual amalgam of memoir, short fiction and lit crit. It’s a work not easily described in a single word. Cheeky and humble, Dr. Webb called it “part memoir, part contemplation,” making it “unclassifiable and unmarketable,” at the reading. It’s also a book that deals with the most serious of subjects in human history and experience, one that ranges “all the way from terror to joy,” in Matthias’ estimation.

The book is, in part, a journal of Dr. Webb’s return to his Slovakian home for the first time since his childhood. It’s also a meditation on the Holocaust and how his family survived.

“One of the things that nobody has said about the Holocaust is that people lived as people have always lived, experiencing agony and pleasure,” Dr. Webb said, relating the often overlooked experiences of a small town on the periphery of Nazi atrocities.

“Writers form associations and cut them out to leave the reader to make connections,” he said of the unusual construction of the novel. “Actually, that’s how the process of thinking and discovering what you’re meaning to say occurs.”

The evening was introduced by Village of Crickets co-founder Danielle Barnhart, M.F.A. ’15, adjunct English professor at Adelphi, and typified the sort of coming-together she and Iris Mahan, M.F.A. ’14, had in mind when they conceived of this unusual group.

“We had this idea for a literary community so that you didn’t just walk off a cliff at the end of your M.F.A.,” Barnhart said. “It was a way that we could start to build a community that was beyond the program but still connected to it.”

She and Mahan are active in their professions—they co-edited Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism (OR Books, March 2018), for example—while remaining active with their Village. Barnhart serves as director of events for the organization.

The November event “was an extra-special night,” she said. “Students got to see their professor up there and see what it’s like to be a working writer. It’s really important for them to get a sense of what life is like day to day working as a writer, working as an editor, working as a publisher.”

They were also able to turn the tables and put the questions to their professor. One student asked if Dr. Webb had advice for pitching a hybrid book in a marketplace that wants things easily categorized and shelved.

“It was hell,” Dr. Webb replied to a round of laughter. “Don’t do it.”

About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning.

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves more than 8,100 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online.

More than 115,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

 

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
e – twilson@adelphi.edu

Tagged: Adelphi University, Department of English, Creative Writing