Franklin Countys First News

Art events at UMF add touch of normalcy during pandemic

Lewis Robinson reads from an unpublished novel in Nordica Auditorium Thursday evening.

FARMINGTON - On Thursday night, University of Maine at Farmington students and faculty and members of the community gathered in the Nordica Auditorium to attend the first reading of the Visiting Writer’s series.

Lewis Robinson, the newest faculty member in UMF's Creative Department, read from an unpublished novel through a mask to socially distanced audience members. In introducing the event, Amy Neswald, who teaches Screenwriting at UMF and is the new coordinator for the Visiting Writers Series, thanked everyone for coming out, despite the new normal which includes face masks, the laminated sheets hung over five consecutive auditorium seats to enforce social distancing, the smell of antiseptic hanging in the warm air.

“Thank you for coming tonight, to this place where we are, really, sitting around the fire and telling stories, participating in a tradition as old as time and one I’m thankful that we can still hang on to even with . . .everything,” said Neswald.

Members mingled at the event, despite the masks and the distance between one another. The introduction music that Neswald arranged to have playing as people arrived was a homey touch and the Nordica auditorium became, even "with everything" a genuinely human place.

"Finding ways to be happy will help you create more," Robinson said as parting words for the young writers in attendance.

While some events, such as fairs or festivals, many of the traditions of the county, are being canceled, some events are remaining in effect with considerations for people’s safety. With a bit of re-imagining, some venues, predominantly in the arts, are keeping their doors open and finding ways to still hold the kinds of gatherings (virtual or otherwise) that creative people look forward to.

Twice Sold Tales has been organizing a Backyard Acoustic Music series for the past few weeks that will continue into October. Literary journals across the country have extended (sometimes multiple times) their submission call deadlines.

Marked off seats to socially distance members of the audience.

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