However, I do want to share something. I realized that in all my ramblings (okay, freaking out) about my participation in the picture book panel presentation, I never really explained what it was all about and how it worked (at least that’s what some of you have told me). So, here goes:
The Picture Book Semester is an intensive study of picture books offered as part of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA WCYA program. It can also be taken as a single semester class for those not interested in doing the entire MFA program. Each semester a different advisor teaches the class, usually with five students. One of the requirements of the class is participation in a panel presentation during the residency that follows the semester.
During the semester, students are required to do critical work in the form of essays. One of these essays must be a minimum of ten pages long. This essay is what forms the basis for your topic in the panel presentation. For example, my long essay was on anthropomorphism with a focus on cats, so that became the subject of my talk, “Cats in Picture Books: Taking a “Paws” to Look at Anthropomorphism.” We each had 12-15 minutes to speak. Around mid-semester, we decided that each of us would create a PowerPoint presentation (after all, picture books are a visual art).
We each spoke on different topics but coordinated our efforts to have some unifying themes throughout. With the suggestion of our advisor, Kathi Appelt, we titled our presentation, Everything Under the Moon: Shedding Light on Picture Books. We spoke about the moon, cats/anthropomorphism, pretend play, turning points and digging holes (leaving space). Afterwards, Kathi read a writing sample from each of us and presented us with our official certificates. Photos and wild applause followed 😉
It was definitely a group effort, as we coordinated on many aspects of our talk, from establishing goals, determining our topics, working through the PowerPoints and finally, at the residency, working out all the technical glitches (which would have been IMPOSSIBLE if not for the fabulous efforts from grad assistant Debbie Gonzales).
It was a lot of work but so much fun, and extremely satisfying when it was over, not only because IT WAS OVER 😉 but because many people from the audience commented that they learned something. Which was our primary goal. We consciously set out to give our audience something that they could take away and apply to their own writing. Yep, reaching a goal is a great feeling!
The panel presentation also served as one other thing: the end to a fabulous experience (the “bitter” part of bittersweet). But as one chapter ends, another begins. Here is a photo of myself with Kathi, and my new advisor for spring 2010, Laura Kvasnosky (of Zelda & Ivy fame). I’m so excited to begin my work with Laura!