The Springfield College Bookstore closes at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, but for one night on Oct. 24, it reopened its doors to host a William Simpson Fine Arts Series faculty reading event at 7:30 p.m.
As students and faculty overflowed the rows of chairs set up on the far side of the bookstore and found spots on the floor, they listened to seven speakers share excerpts of their fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Those speakers, six from the Humanities Department, which co-hosted the event, and one representative from the Psychology Department, took their turns behind the podium as they kept the audience captive with their words. They included Margaret Lloyd, Justine Dymond, Allie Eaton, Dennis Gildea, Becky Lartigue, Missy-Marie Montgomery and Rick Paar.
“Usually we invite writers from outside of Springfield College, but this year since we hadn’t done it for so long, and because we have so many faculty interested in doing creative writing, we thought that we’d do it again,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd, not only a professor, but also the Chair of the Humanities Department, organized the faculty reading as part of the William Simpson Fine Arts Series. She decided to have SC professors share their works for several reasons, but one in particular stood out.
“Students get to see another side of their professors than they do in the classroom,” Lloyd said. “In my own reading, I’m going to stress that aspect, that there’s this other part of myself. That I’m a poet.”
Lloyd and the rest of the professors did just that, sharing not only their works, but a part of themselves in the process. Whether it was Gildea’s sports-infused story, Montgomery’s “Mulberries” poem or Eaton’s personal view of growing up in a devout Democratic household, each reader poured out a web of words that had been formed from the heart.
Each professor was allotted approximately eight minutes to share whichever sample or samples they desired, although from the onset, Lloyd knew that the time limit would be tested by all of the eager readers.
Lloyd shared four poems, two in formal, traditional verse and two in free verse. She has had two collections of her poetry published already and will be publishing a third one next fall. She tried to stress the balance of being a poet, full-time mother, professor and Chair of the Humanities Department in two of her poems, and strove for variety in content and form by including her other two samples.
“I started writing when I was a child. Literature books were always a really important part of my household, and I fell in love with poetry at a very early age,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd’s passion for poetry is what keeps her motivated to find the opportunity to pursue it during her spare time.
Although Lloyd and the Humanities Department dominated the event, a single outside representative from the Psychology Department, Rick Paar, took part in the readings as well.
“He’s sort of an honorary member of our department anyway, because he feels a kinship with the department,” Lloyd said.
Paar developed a passion for writing 12 years ago when he attended a writer’s conference in Maine at the suggestion of one of his friends in the Humanities Department at the time, Mike White.
“Psychology and literature ask the same question. What is it like to be human?” Paar said.
Paar’s excerpt was from his novel, Mulligan, which is a fictitious coming-of-age story.
“Everybody who gets to a certain age, middle age or beyond, if you’re lucky, you get a chance maybe to reconfigure your life,” Paar said.
Paar, along with Lloyd and the other professors, successfully showed that they possess a dimension that students are most likely not accustomed to seeing. In addition, the event promoted the arts in a positive light, which was an important goal of the night.
“I think arts are really central to people’s lives, whether they know it or not,” Lloyd said. “It just adds so much to who we are as human beings.”
For this one night, the SC Bookstore was alive and vibrant after closing hours. For this one night, the SC professors got the chance to showcase their talents outside of the classroom, with all eyes on them and every ear hanging on their every word.