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Past is present in WCSU’s new literary journal

By Western Connecticut State University

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DANBURY, CT - What’s old is new again in the pages of “Poor Yorick: A Journal of Rediscovered Objects,” a new literary publication of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University. The free, online journal will publish poems, stories, essays, profiles, digital video shorts, photo-essays, scholarly articles and other innovative works about or inspired by rediscovered objects and/or images of material culture.

‘“Poor Yorick’s’ mission of rediscovering lost pieces of history and material culture make it unique in the literary world,” said Erik Ofgang, the journal’s editor and a current M.F.A. student. “The journal will feature work of new and established writers and visual artists from across the globe, and it is poised to attract a national and international audience.” The journal’s advisory board includes Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut’s former Poet Laureate, current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and 2012 recipient of the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

“We welcome writing and other creative productions that have been inspired by markers of our cultural past,” Ofgang explained. “Some examples might be sculptures and paintings in the back rooms of museums, lost photographic archives and restored films, newly discovered letters or manuscripts, or even knickknacks in attics. We’re interested in forgotten stories that remind us of pasts we can’t afford to forget.”

‘Poor Yorick’ currently is accepting submissions and will begin publishing original content in fall 2014. In lieu of traditional issues, the journal will post new content on an ongoing basis. In addition to unsolicited submissions, the journal’s editorial staff will occasionally identify a particular historical object, collection or exhibit and call for submissions inspired by the selected artifact. Ofgang said the journal will work in conjunction with the WCSU Department of History, as well as with museums to identify and encourage innovative works focusing on lesser-known and overlooked objects and images.

According to M.F.A. Program Coordinator Dr. Brian Clements, ‘Poor Yorick’ was conceived during the 2012 summer residency (an intensive bi-annual writers’ conference), at which former Connecticut Poet Laureate Nelson read selections from “Fortunes’ Bones: The Manumission Requiem,” a collection of poems commissioned by the Mattatuck Museum and inspired by a human skeleton exhibited there in the 1960s. The titular bones are those of an 18th-century Waterbury man by the name of Fortune, who had once been enslaved and in service to renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Preserved Porter.

The true identity — and history — of Fortune remained a mystery until 1999, when Waterbury’s African American History Project Committee learned about the skeleton. As a result of the committee’s research, the Mattatuck Museum debuted a new, historically accurate exhibition in spring 2003.

The ‘Poor Yorick’ advisory board also includes: Dr. Brian Clements, poet, professor and coordinator of WCSU’s M.F.A. program, and founding editor of the small press Firewheel Editions and of Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics; and Dr. Leslie Lindenauer, historian and WCSU associate professor of history and non-Western cultures.

For more information about “Poor Yorick: A Journal of Rediscovered Objects,” go to www.pooryorickjournal.com or call (203) 837-8878.

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