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Cameron McGill Releases First Poetry Chapbook

Cameron McGill Releases First Poetry Chapbook

 

By: Evie CaldwellFront cover of Meridians.

On February 1, Cameron McGill’s first book was published by Willow Springs Books. It is currently available through their website. Cameron is an instructor and Digital Technology and Culture faculty member, as well as a writer, musician, and the poetry editor of Blood Orange Review. His book, Meridians, is a small collection of poems. It is the tenth volume of the Acme Poem Company Surrealist Poetry Series. Cameron will be celebrating the book’s release with a reading on February 11 at Book People in Moscow, Idaho at 7pm. In preparation for the event, we got the opportunity to talk with Cameron about Meridians.

Cameron has been writing for a long time, but his focus has not always been poetry. Before starting graduate school, he worked as a musician for over fifteen years. He wrote songs and played in bands, releasing six albums and two EPs. Although Cameron is still working on music, his attention has somewhat shifted to poetry. Throughout his years of songwriting, his ideas that would not fit into songs started to accumulate. When he realized they were a different medium, it felt like a revelation. Once he began to shape his ideas into poems, poetry took over more of his writing time.

After finishing graduate school at the University of Idaho, Cameron started publishing his poems. He cites 2016 as the year of his first “real” publication. Many of the poems included in Meridians have been published previously, but some are new. The book’s title came about from considering different meanings of the word. It can be linked to line, the celestial sky, the human body, and more. Cameron has been referring to his poems as “meridians” long before releasing his book. Each poem within the category is titled with the latitude and longitude coordinates of a city or place.

One consistent theme throughout Meridians is the idea of revisiting locations to complete memories or better understand them. “It’s about trying to get at describing an emotional connection to certain places through memory,” said Cameron. Anchoring his poems to specific coordinates enables him to locate things very particularly while incorporating surrealism into his writing. His titles provide setting and context, and the poems in his book are cumulative. Looking through every poem from a location provides a clearer picture than trying to understand each one individually.

Cameron and fellow poet Michael McGriff will be reading poems at Book People in Moscow on February 11 at 7pm in honor of the release of Meridians. He hopes many people will be able to come and enjoy a night of poetry.

Anna Plemons Publishes Book on Progress in the Prison Classroom

Anna Plemons Publishes Book on Progress in the Prison Classroom

 

By: Evie CaldwellFront cover of Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities.

Dr. Anna Plemons has written a new book, a monograph titled Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities. The book is now up for sale through the NCTE catalog, and it first became available in November 2019. Anna has held a grant-funded teaching position with the California Arts in Corrections program since 2009, and she is also a longtime member of the Digital Technology and Culture faculty.

The Arts in Corrections program is a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Arts Council. It provides art instruction for incarcerated people in state adult correctional institutions. The program includes visual, literary, media, performing, cultural, folk and traditional arts.

Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities contains narrative selections from Anna and Arts in Corrections participants. It argues that, when viewed as a microcosm of the broader enterprise, the prison classroom highlights the way that composition and rhetoric as a discipline continues to make use of colonial ways of knowing and of being that work against the decolonial intentions of the field. Anna states:

In Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities, I suggest that Indigenous scholarship provides a theoretical basis for studying and supporting something other than individualized, economic progress as well as design principles for research and pedagogy that respect and respond to the desire of many incarcerated people to contribute to communities outside the prison.

Anna has been working with the ideas in her book for over five years. The premise of her book grew out of her dissertation, which she finished in 2014. “The shape of the text has changed as my own thinking has changed and sharpened,” said Anna. She believes working with her book series editor also had a positive impact. He was open to including work by incarcerated writers, and well as some of Anna’s own creative nonfiction writing. He also suggested and facilitated the book’s final chapter: a conversation between Anna and two other scholars on the topics of whiteness, appropriation, and decolonial practice.

Over the last several decades, the Arts in Corrections program has been a powerful force for creativity and positivity in the California prison system. Anna aims to recount the program’s story through her book. She also hopes to see more writing by incarcerated people published. “I want to see writing that challenges stereotypes and illuminates the complicated ways that people who are incarcerated engage in relationships with each other and people on the outside,” said Anna. In addition, she intends to be part of a conversation that expands the options for teaching and research in prison.

Aracely Wins Pollart Scholarship

Aracely Wins Pollart Scholarship

 

By: Ruth Gregory and Evie CaldwellAracely Mendoza holds her scholarship award certificate.

One of the 2019 Pollart Scholarships for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities has been awarded to Digital Technology and Culture senior Aracely Mendoza. “The scholarship is meant to highlight the work of students that are crossing boundaries and doing innovative things that show the way that arts and humanities will move forward,” said Todd Butler, Associate Dean of Faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences. “Aracely was one of the people whose life had obviously been deeply affected by the Humanities,” said Matt Sutton, History Department Chair.

Aracely is from East Wenatchee, but her family comes from Michoacán, Mexico. She is earning a dual degree in Anthropology and DTC with a minor in Fine Arts, and she will be graduating in Spring 2020. Aracely is incredibly involved on campus, and has been since her freshman year. In addition to her job at Student Financial Services in Lighty, Aracely is a part of Mecha, Mujeres Unidas, Multicultural Student Mentor Program (MSMP), and the McNair Scholars program.

Mecha, which stands for Movimiento Estudantil Chicanx de Aztlan, is an advocacy group that fights for spaces on campuses where Latinx people can flourish and tackle issues of discrimination. Aracely has been involved with Mecha since her freshman year and currently serves as the organization’s secretary. “This organization really helped build my knowledge on what the Latinx community is facing locally, nationally, and globally,” said Aracely. She is also serving as a team leader for Mecha’s annual conference Children of Aztlan Sharing Higher Education (CASHE), where she will be supervising a group of high school students as they learn about higher education and the resources available to them.

Aracely has also been part of Mujeres Unidas since her freshman year, serving as the ChiLaStAl (Chicanx/Latinx Student Alliance) representative for her first year and co-chair for the past two years. Mujeres Unidas discusses issues facing the Latinx community. The organization places specific emphasis on women’s issues.

Lastly, Aracely is currently participating in the McNair Scholars Program for her second year. The McNair Scholars Program is intended to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Aracely’s on-campus activities are directly linked to her research on how the Latinx community in the United States are interacting with their cultural traditions. Being involved in the McNair program has enabled Aracely to attend conferences across the nation to present her research.

Aracely was honored with one other Pollart scholarship recipient at the public launch of the Center for Arts and Humanities on October 24. At the event, Aracely chose to recognize Dr. Raymond Herrera, Dr. Anne Pisor, Dr. Carlos Salazar, and DTC Assistant Director Ruth Gregory for their influence in her studies at WSU. “I am deeply thankful to Ruth Gregory for the nomination and humbled for being awarded it,” said Aracely. “It makes me feel better about what I’m doing in college knowing that there are people who see my struggles and successes.” After graduation, Aracely hopes to go into a PhD program in Sociology. She is working toward a career in social work or social advocacy for underrepresented communities.

Kira Lands Gameplay and Narrative Design Job

Kira Lands Gameplay and Narrative Design Job

 

By: Evie CaldwellKira Norman and five coworkers pose together in Airstrafe Interactive sweatshirts.

Digital Technology and Culture graduate Kira Norman recently landed a job at Airstrafe Interactive, a small indie game studio located in Los Angeles. As Gameplay and Narrative Designer for the company, Kira writes and implements scripts for the narrative elements of the studio’s games. She is also part of the 2D art team and occasionally works on sprites and character design.

Kira graduated from the DTC program in Spring 2019. She chose to major in DTC during her sophomore year at WSU after seeing the diverse range of classes and branches of study she could pursue through the program. She was especially interested in learning about animation. One of Kira’s animations, Witch’s Brew, was featured in the 2017 DTC Showcase. In addition to her work in college, Kira has been creating digital art since high school.

Although Kira was not searching for a career in writing, she stumbled upon the job posting and decided it might be worth a shot. “I wanted to expand the pool of jobs I was applying for,” Kira said. Even though it did not have anything to do with graphic design, she liked the idea of creative writing as a job. The hiring manager for Airstrafe Interactive was impressed by Kira’s webcomic, Crystal Magic, a personal project that she independently writes and illustrates.

When asked what part of her new job she is most excited about, Kira explained that she is looking forward to seeing her team expand. Airstrafe Interactive is currently made up of seven employees, and Kira is enthusiastic to watch the company grow. “We’re pretty small right now, but I hope we can hire on some more people soon!” she said.

Community Partnerships and the Digital Technology and Culture Program

Community Partnerships and the Digital Technology and Culture Program

 

By: Ruth Gregory and Evie Caldwell

Many courses in the Digital Technology and Culture program partner with local and regional groups to provide them with design services as a part of their regular coursework. DTC Assistant Director Ruth Gregory states: “The experience helps community partners who do not have the ability to complete these projects on their own while providing DTC students with valuable real world experience. Since many DTC students go directly into industry that real world experience of working for a client helps further prepare them for life after the program.”

Many of the partnerships are set up through the WSU Center for Civic Engagement. They believe: “Civic Engagement is central to the public purpose of higher education and essential to the student experience, empowering students to become active citizens in a democratic society. The WSU Center for Civic Engagement exists to forge community-campus partnerships that build community capacity, generate knowledge, and solve problems through service, leadership, and scholarship.” Past partnerships include work for a wide variety of governmental entities and non-profits like: Sojourner’s Alliance, Science on Ice, The Whitman County CASA program, and WISH Medical.

Animating a Traditional Story from the Coeur D’Alene Tribe
Still frame of animated coyote crouched in a forest.In spring 2019, students in professor Suzanne Anderson’s DTC 435: Advanced Animation class collaborated with the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Language Program. The mission of the language program is to create new adult speakers of Snchitsu’umshtsn in order to protect the Coeur d’Alene language from dying.

The students in Advanced Animation spent the semester creating animated versions of “Cricket Rides Coyote,” a traditional story from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The animated shorts incorporated voiceovers spoken in Snchitsu’umshtsn and music produced by Native artists. Four groups of students worked on the project. They shared their animations with members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe at the annual DTC 3D Animation Showcase on April 23, 2019.

Redesigning Logos for Local Non-Profits
Meanwhile, students in Ruth Gregory’s DTC 497: Senior Seminar class redesigned logos for three different local associations. The class partnered with Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation, the Pullman Community Council on Aging, and the Latah Alliance on Mental Health.

On April 11, the three groups in Senior Seminar presented their individual logo master sheets to the class. During their presentations, they had a minute to explain the elements in their designs and sell them in a way that spoke to their respective community partner. The presentations were recorded and uploaded online so students could see what their presentation styles were like after the project was completed.

Providing Multimedia Support for United Way of Whitman County
United Way social media graphic featuring a photo of a collapsing house.The Fall 2019 Senior Seminar courses created promotional materials for the local chapter of United Way. The local chapter of the international nonprofit raises funds for regional agencies like Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, Boost Collaborative, Circles of Caring, and many others. United Way is currently going through a name change from United Way of Pullman to United Way of Whitman County and attempting to reach out to a younger audience, so students were able to help with several different initiatives.

Two groups wrote press releases and designed social media posts, flyers, and posters. One group planned a social media and SEO optimization strategy. The final group took photographs and created a short video advertisement. On October 20, each group presented their designs to representatives from the nonprofit. The students were able to receive immediate feedback on their work. United Way will likely be able to use many of the promotional materials created by the class in their future materials.

Have a community partnership opportunity you’d like to share with the Digital Technology and Culture program? Feel free to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you about possibly partnering with your organization.

Alumni Update with Adam Ward

Alumni Update with Adam Ward

 

By: Evie CaldwellAdam Ward stands holding a basketball in front of a wall of windows.

Digital Technology and Culture alumni Adam Ward has always had a passion for music and design. After graduating from the DTC program in 2013, Adam moved to Portland, Oregon. He is currently working as a Digital Content Specialist for the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Adam was able to chat with us about his career and experience in DTC during a visit to Pullman in late August.

Adam originally came to WSU to study journalism, but he was drawn to the DTC program for its connection to new media and its broader range of class options. Throughout his time at WSU, Adam was heavily involved with the student-run radio station KZUU, serving as DJ for five years and music director for four years. He also interned at the Museum of Art during his senior year.

As a Digital Content Specialist, Adam manages the social media accounts for Moda Center and their esports team Blazer5 Gaming. He is also part of the team that manages the social media accounts for the Portland Trail Blazers. He takes photographs, designs posts, edits videos, and in many ways acts as a jack of all trades. “My day-to-day is literally different every day,” said Adam. His current passion project is a social media campaign that bridges the gap between the mainstream stars that play at Moda Center and Portland’s local music community.

Like many creative professionals, Adam struggled with job hunting for his first few months out of college. Connections he made through KZUU gave him a head start, but he still had a hard time landing interviews while living in Pullman. After making the choice to move to Portland, his well-designed resume and hard work won him a job at Habitat for Humanity, where he stayed for three years before securing his current position.

Adam’s advice to DTC students is to get involved in extracurriculars outside of class. “My degree was obviously a huge help, but the extra stuff I did around it has helped equally with my career development,” said Adam. When it comes to DTC, he believes you get out what you put in. He took a wide range of classes and learned about everything from writing to graphic design. His involvement with KZUU was a major highlight of his college experience, and he encourages all students to find a job, club, or project on campus that they are genuinely excited about.

Kelly-anne is the 2019 DTC Outstanding Senior

Every year, the Digital Technology and Culture program selects one student to receive the Outstanding Senior Award. This year’s recipient is Kelly-anne Cubley. “Pushing herself out of her comfort zone is something that Kelly-anne has done repeatedly over her time at WSU,” said Digital Technology and Culture Assistant Director Ruth Gregory. Kelly-anne’s willingness to try new things and her determination to see them through were some of the reasons that the Digital Technology and Culture faculty to choose her as the 2019 Outstanding Senior for DTC. » More ...

Kyra Empowers Native Youth Through Podcasting

Digital Technology and Culture student and Coeur D’Alene and Tohono O’odham tribal member Kyra Antone was recently selected for a three-year internship with Voices to Hear, a multimedia design learning project that aspires to empower Native American youth. » More ...

Viva Farms Digital Storytelling Internship

Digital Technology and Culture students Joshua Perez, Miranda Sherrell, Chase Stuart, Jeffrey Braund, Lauren Prasanna, and Lexis Cook joined professor Rebecca Goodrich for one week last May to produce three films for Viva Farms. Viva Farms, a non-profit Farm Business Incubator and Training Program run by Rob Smith, works closely with small farm startups and the Skagit County WSU Extension Office to provide research, testing, and classes on farming. » More ...