Connie Voisine

photo_connie voisineBiographical Statement:

In 1987 Connie Voisine graduated from Yale University with a major in American Studies, with a concentration in film. While there, she was part of a theater company that took its plays to housing projects and prisons. As a member of that company, Voisine taught playwriting and acting at Greenhaven Maximum Security Prison (for men) for a summer, discovering that she was energized by the way that art and activism could coincide, and that she loved to teach. During school, she took what creative writing classes she could (few were offered) and was part of the oldest creative writing workshop in America through a class called Daily Themes.

Because Voisine grew up in a Maine border town with few creative outlets, she moved to New York City once she graduated. She began studying writing with poets Nicholas Christopher and Philip Schultz at The New School, the Poetry Society of America and Writers Studio. New York launched her on a wonderful apprenticeship as a poet and she worked flexible jobs–from bartender to development researcher at The Brooklyn Museum–to facilitate poetry study and summer travel to Europe and Central America. Besides attending as many poetry readings as she could, Voisine developed into an avid dance and music performance attendee, became interested in the visual arts, often going to five or six events a week. Overall, her immersion in the avant-garde art world of the 1980s allowed her to understand the benefits of a vibrant art community and the role of an artist within one.

Connie Voisine got an MFA at University of California at Irvine and a Ph.D. in English at University of Utah. Before teaching here at NMSU, she taught for two years at University of Hartford in Connecticut. Currently she lives in an old adobe house with her husband, the writer Rus Bradburd, and their daughter Alma.

Teaching Statement:

It is my belief that the creative writing classroom offers every student a chance to become passionate about literature. Most students enroll in a poetry writing class because they feel they have something they must express, a desire I try to honor with every class. I also see their desire to express themselves as the spark that will ignite a passionate exploration of literature.

Our MFA program is a close-knit one where students create a community of writers where informal learning is just as important as classroom learning. We attend readings, workshops and have great Halloween parties.

Courses Recently Taught:

  • ENGL 220: Introduction to Creative Writing
  • ENGL 306: Creative Writing, Poetry
  • ENGL 414: Advanced Creative Writing, Poetry
  • ENGL 535: Form and Technicque of Poetry
  • ENGL 575: Graduate Workshop, Poetry
  • ENGL 596: Master Workshop

Departmental Projects:

Voisine is the faculty advisor (and director) for La Sociedad para las Artes, the main outreach organization for the English department. Every year, they host free evening readings of national caliber, of readers who also offer manuscript consultation to graduate students and craft talks to undergraduates, graduate students and community members. They are expanding our Writers-in-the-Schools (WITS) program, a creative writing arts program supporting our impoverished school system (which has one of the lowest literacy score averages in the country). Their annual hunger benefit, part of a nation-wide movement where writers coordinate reading events to raise money to fight hunger, has raised at least $35,000 for Casa de Peregrinos, a local food bank. It is Voisine’s belief that a writer who stays connected to the community cannot help but write poems, stories or novels of social importance and La Sociedad has given our program the forum to test this belief.

Research and Creative Interests:

Subject-wise, often a writer’s life will dictate the subject of a book and, for various personal reasons, desire, death, and their connection to each other chose me. Voisine’s interest probably also has to do with being an established adult, a time when we become a bit more familiar with death and, in contrast to the crazed flush of our teens and twenties, better equipped to wonder about the nature of desire against the these inevitabilities. To uncover a form for this exploration, she borrowed from her passion for medieval literature and began appropriating themes from medieval writers of romances. Voisine worked to capture their particular blending of the lyric and the narrative. Marie de France, one of the few female troubadour poets, wrote complexly about women caught in the crosshairs of social expectations and personal desire. The three long poems that anchor her book, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream, are contemporary retellings of her work.

Selected Publications:

Books 

  • Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream, University of Chicago Press, 2008
  • Cathedral of the North, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001 (winner of the AWP Prize in Poetry)

Anthologies 

  • French Connections: A Gathering of Franco-American Poets, Gelineau and Bedell, eds. Louisiana Literature Press, 2007.
  • Just Outside the Frame, “I Made a Book,” and “Prayer for New Mexico,” Tres Chicas Press, fall 2005.
  • The Maine Poets, the poems “hungry,” “Booming the Lake,” Longfellow Press, spring 2004
  • A Fierce Brightness, the poem “Blue Hat,” Calyx Press, 2002
  • A Fine Excess, the poem “Psalm,” Sarabande Press, 2001

Magazines 

  • “First Taste” Luna, forthcoming
  • “The Bird is Her Reason,” Pool, spring 2004
  • “Prayer for New Mexico,” Third Coast, spring 2004
  • “Postcard from Fougax-et-Barrineuf” and “The End of Flesh,” in Bellingham Review, winter 2003
  • “Poet at 37”, December 2003, Hunger Mountain, fall 2003
  • “This is for the silver of highway,” Georgia Review, summer 2003
  • “To the Crickets of Salt Lake City” and “Afloat in Salt Lake,” Connecticut Review, spring 2003
  • “Confessional,” Solo, spring 2003
  • “Love Poem,” Slate, February 2003
  • “AWOL,” ” Anonymous Lyric,” and “Thank You,” Puerto del Sol, spring 2003 (with interview about poetics and autobiography)
  • “Liquor,” Quarterly West, winter 2003
  • “Patron Saints,”The Journal, fall 2001
  • “Big Song,” Black Warrior Review, spring 2001
  • “Annunciation,” The Bloomsbury Review, Vol 20/Issue 3, May/June, 2000

Exhibits

Contact: cvoisine@nmsu.edu or 575-646-2027


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