Danielle Barnhart ’15 and Iris Mahan ’14 started an all-encompassing writers’ haven.
There is no set path for a graduate of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. One can plan to publish a book, write for screen, work in publishing or, in the case of Danielle Barnhart ’15 and Iris Mahan ’14, start an all-encompassing writers’ haven. Village of Crickets publishes a journal and website, hosts public readings and discussions, showcases students’ work and holds interviews with notable writers and Adelphi University faculty and alumni.
“We were both feeling apprehensive about what it would mean to be away from our little M.F.A. community,” Mahan said. “We didn’t feel like we fit in to the larger literary landscape just yet. Village of Crickets came out of that feeling. We wanted to create a space for both established and emerging writers and artists to share art, to share craft.”
Barnhart and Mahan found their inspiration at Adelphi and in the Spanish concept of duende, or soulfulness. Associate Professor Jacqueline Jones LaMon introduced them to Gabriel Garcia Lorca’s essay “The Play and Theory of Duende” and poet John Murillo underscored the concept when he spoke to students in the M.F.A. program.
“That really set the tone for what we wanted to focus on,” said Mahan. “We want to be kind of dirty, kind of gritty, kind of lived in. Our main goal is inclusion, is giving, is sharing.” Village of Crickets has hosted events at Adelphi’s Manhattan campus and the infamous East Village KGB Bar. The first event was titled “Communing With the Dead: An All Souls Reading of Spooky Prose by Candlelight.” Held, appropriately, on October 30, it featured Catherine Chung, assistant professor, and Arli Middendorf ’11, M.F.A. ’13, adjunct professor. A November 3 reading celebrated the release of Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, and featured Professor Martha Cooley.
After a year of successes, there are no signs of Village of Crickets slowing down. This spring they hosted a panel on duende at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs writers’ conference in Los Angeles, the largest literary conference in North America. They will also be working on the second issue of their annual journal The Blind Archer, launching a series of discussions between poets and graffiti artists. They plan to publish a chapbook and start a podcast and are looking into nonprofit certification. “Most of all,” Mahan said, “we want to move in the direction of servicing the marginalized in our communities, providing a place for voices that aren’t typically heard in the mainstream.”
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