May 17 is fast approaching! We are looking forward to seeing you all soon. We are excited for more meals and conversations, to hear what you’ve been up to, to share in all of our creativities.
We have already received responses from many of you who plan to participate in Walpole next month. So far, we will be joined by performers, novelists, researchers, teachers – faces both familiar and new.
Once again, our gathering will take place May 17, 18, and 19 at the UMaine Darling Marine Center in Walpole (http://www.dmc.maine.edu/).
For those who haven’t responded, please let us know by APRIL 15 if you plan to join the gathering. In order to save a space for you at the Darling Center, we need to know if you want to reserve a room for Friday the 17th and/or Saturday the 18th. We also need to give the Darling Center catering counts; please let us know what meals you will be sharing with us during the weekend (Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner; and Sunday: Breakfast)
We will begin Friday evening at 7PM with conversation and a screening of short films by Louise Bourque (http://www.bu.edu/prc/vernacular/bourque.htm). Friday will also be your time to sign up to read or present your work on Saturday. All day Saturday will be devoted to you and your work. We will unwind Saturday evening with the music and conversation of a kitchen party, and wrap up Sunday morning with breakfast and a closing discussion.
The program is free for you. We will pay for room and board for all of you who would like to join us and we will not be asking for money at the event. However, we ask that you consider sending a donation to help make our gathering an annual event. This will be our third consecutive year, but without your donations it may be our final. We hope for many more.
All donations are tax-deductible and can be made through the Franco American Studies program website (http://umaine.edu/francoamericanstudies). Click on the “give now” button near the top; we can be found under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either of us.
Hope to hear from you.
Susan & Jake
Ida LeClair will be signing copies of her new self-help humor book, “Finding Your Inner Moose: Ida LeClair’s Guide to Livin’ the Good Life,” (actually penned by Maine-based writer and performer Susan Poulin, the creative force behind the popular stage personality Ida LeClair) at the Franco American Centre on October 24, 2012 at 6pm.
Poulin’s character Ida, is a recently minted “Certified Maine Life Guide.” Ida is a lifelong resident of fictional Mahoosuc Mills, an impossible-to-find, but oh-so-familiar town in Western Maine, where she lives in a tidy and tastefully decorated double-wide with high school sweetheart Charlie and adorable dog Scamp. Most importantly, Ida is a daughter, sister, wife, and best friend who draws upon her experiences (as well as those of the noble and majestic moose) to offer practical and hilarious advice on relationships, physical fitness, stress, housecleaning, work, shopping, fun, and more. (If you are looking for impractical, woo-woo advice from a glammed-up, over-educated, fancy-schmancy life coach, just keep looking!)
In her book, readers will find sections such as: What Did I Do Wrong to Deserve this Turkey Gobbler Neck?; How Many Points in Cabbage Soup?; Feng Shui-ing the Double Wide; Slaying Energy Vampires; and Spousal Deafness. This book is 100 percent Ida, who, as her husband Charlie often says, “just loves giving advice to people, whether they ask for it or not!”
“Finding Your Inner Moose” is part of a developing relationship between Poulin and Islandport. Poulin’s weekly “Just Ask Ida” humor blog and podcast is now produced for Islandport web sites, and Islandport will lend marketing support to Poulin’s shows and events, as well as for her social media sites.
Poulin, once selected by Portland Magazine as one of the “Ten Most Intriguing People In Maine,” created the character Ida LeClair in 1997. Poulin has been a leader in bringing a female voice to New England storytelling and humor, a genre historically dominated by men such as “Bert and I” and Tim Sample. Poulin has produced five stage shows featuring Ida: “Ida: Woman Who Runs with the Moose,” “Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale,” “A Very Ida Christmas,” “The Moose in Me, the Moose in You,” and her latest, “I Married an Alien.”
Yarmouth-based Islandport Press is a dynamic, award-winning publisher dedicated to stories rooted in the essence and sensibilities of New England. For more information, please visit www.islandportpress.com
Franco American Studies is offering two courses, both of which fulfill general education requirements.
FAS 120: People Places and Pasts
This class will explore the cultural geography of Franco America. Together we will investigate how heritage links to place with particular emphasis on gender, class, and ethnicity. It is run as a seminar, with no prerequisites or knowledge of French or the Franco American community required; this class fulfills the Population and Environment General Education requirement.
FAS 250: The Acadian Experience
This course gives a history of the Acadian peoples, from early settlement to today. Taught on-line, fulfills Cultural Diversity general education requirement.
What is the significance of Franco American culture today? What is a Franco American identity? How is it experienced? How is it shared? The Living Past: Franco American Identity in the Modern World will explore the contemporary expression of Franco American culture through roundtable conversations, storytelling, dramatic performances, music, and art.
Some of the leading voices of the Franco American experience will share their work and invite participants to explore their cultural identity. In addition to scheduled events, there will be numerous opportunities for informal exchanges during our weekend together. It is our goal to build new foundations for the future of Franco American communities.
This gathering is generously funded by the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques (Québec). There is a nominal registration fee of $100 which covers all dramatic performances, discussions, readings, receptions, lodging, meals, as well as the Saturday night dance party with live bands.
For further details concerning registration and a list of participants, see conference website.
Teachers, researchers, historians, genealogists and Franco-Americans, among others, have a new online bibliographical website to connect them to references and resources about everything Franco-American.
Created through and collaboratively managed at the University of Maine Franco-American Centre, the newFranco American virtual Library contains lists and links to journal articles, published papers, dissertation, biographies, fiction and non-fiction, periodicals, artwork and audio and video materials about Franco-American life, culture and history.
The project is a unique endeavor, according to Franco-American Centre Director Yvon Labbé, because it is designed for use by members of all communities, in addition to Franco-Americans, and scholars, who are invited to add to the website anything they believe to be of relevance to Franco-American culture and history. It becomes a much more diversified, collective and open-ended resource, he says.
“What’s unique here isn’t just the content,” Labbé says, “it’s the process, as well. I find this whole thing very exciting, because Maine has not always been successful in mirroring Maine for Maine.”
A third of the state’s population is Franco-American, according to Labbé and senior faculty associate of the Centre Tony Brinkley, also an English professor.
Brinkley says the new website is a significant transition for the Franco-American Centre because it is taking 40 years worth of work at the Centre and putting it online, where it is universally accessible.
“As things go out and are accessible, it will have an impact on teachers and students in public schools,” Labbé adds — a much quicker dissemination process than revising and publishing printed material like textbooks.
A catalog of resources for Franco-American studies that’s linked to URSUS and to the Maine State library, the website categorizes annotates in a virtual collection of items by genre and theme, assigns each item geographic tags, and indicates in which library or public collection each item might be found.
“Up until now, there has been no way to find things written about Franco-Americans,” says Susan Pinette, director of Franco-American studies at UMaine. “This resource has been sorely needed by everyone — both academic and community-based researchers.”
The Library of Congress recently came up with a subject heading a few years ago, Pinette says, but even so, “if you type in ‘Franco American’ into most library catalogs, you get books written about French-U.S. diplomacy. There is no way to find Franco-American authors. Even with the Library of Congress designator, it is tough to find Franco-American fiction.”
Pinette, Labbé and Brinkley have worked for the past year with independent researcher and website architect Jacob Albert of Augusta to create the comprehensive online bibliography. The Québec-based Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques provided the funding. The Québec centre is dedicated to developing a promising future for the Maine French language in the context of cultural diversity by enhancing relationships among Francophones and Francophiles of Québec, Canada and the Americas, according to its mission statement.
Albert says the resource currently is populated by materials relative to Franco-American interests in Maine, New England and pushing west, but will grow nationally through public use and user submissions. “Once this becomes more public, we hope folks will get excited about it and help us add to it,” he says.
Its production also was made possible by the support of Chez Nous, a chapter of Royal Arcanum-ACA, formerly known as Association Canado-Américaine.