Amoskeag #30 Author Named ‘Notable’ by ‘Best American Essays’

“Green Card,” an essay published in Amoskeag Journal this past April, was dubbed “notable” by the staff (and editor Cheryl Strayed) of the annual Best American Essays anthology. Essay author Aine Greaney lives in Newburyport, Mass.

ainecape1

Author Aine Greaney.

The Amoskeag Journal spoke with her via email his week.

Amoskeag Journal: How would you describe your writing journey?

Aine Greaney: As a voracious reader raised in a bilingual family, language was always my joy and plaything. So writing was always something I dreamed of doing. However, like many writers, I found a million reasons not to do it until I was past my .. ahem … 30th birthday.  I never completed or published anything until after I had moved to America in the late 1980s. As I have always worked a day job –and who hasn’t?– my writing has had to be done in fits and starts. I’m also a bit of a binge writer. I can go away for the weekend and bang out 100 pages, then only write about three pages for the rest of that week. I’ve been writing and publishing more than usual lately. I’m also very comfortable as a “bi-textual” writer, in that I switch back and forth between non-fiction and fiction with great ease.

AJ: How does it feel to be named “notable” in such a prestigious anthology?

AG: It feels wonderful, of course, and perhaps doubly wonderful for an immigrant writer to have my work 1. Published in a New England literary magazine such as Amoskeag and 2. Named as “notable” among the annual “Best American.” My “notable” essay, “Green Card” recounts  the day I drove in the rain to the local INS office to renew my green card, which is shorthand for our legal-resident status in the U.S. When an essay like that gets cited, it means that my work can transcend personal experience or national origin to actually speak to a universal or wider readership. Of course, it’s also very flattering to be on the list with writers whom I myself read and admire, such as John McPhee, Claire Messud, David Sedaris and Mary Gordon.

AJ: Where else can people find your work?

AG: My website has links to some of my online-published essays and blog posts (Salon.com, Boston Globe Magazine, Forbes), short stories and books www.ainegreaney.com.  I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Greaney’s essay (along with the rest of the issue) here.

Advertisements

What is an Amoskeag?

In my brief time working as a student intern for the journal I have already been asked numerous times by authors and readers alike “so what the heck is an Amoskeag, anyway?” Despite having lived near the Manchester area for more than a few years now, and being somewhat familiar with the word, I still found myself stumbling rather incoherently to explain the meaning behind the term and how exactly it connects to the journal. Now that the blog is up and running, I thought it would be the perfect forum to get the word out on what exactly an “Amoskeag” is and why it was chosen as the title for Southern New Hampshire University’s literary journal.

The word Amoskeag itself actually comes from the Penacook Indian dialect meaning “abundance of fish.” Nearly two hundred years before the Industrial Revolution hit the area, the natives of northern New England looked to the Amoskeag Falls on the mighty Merrimack River for pure clean water and exceptional fishing. It wasn’t until around 1837 that the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company and the city of Manchester, New Hampshire began to take shape after careful planning and development.

The town was intentionally named after Manchester, England – the world’s largest textile city at the time. Almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy, the Amoskeag Mills and the town around it indeed surpassed its English namesake and eventually became the largest textile factory by the turn of the 20th century.

By this time, the city of Manchester (thoroughly influenced by the mills) had also grown into one of the largest cities in all of New England with a booming population of fifty-five thousand. The majority of this growth came from French Canadian immigrants heading down from Quebec to find work at the mills. By 1920, a large number of Greeks and Poles had also immigrated into the workforce to create a unique ethnic diversity focused around the Amoskeag Mills.

Tamara K. Hareven, author of Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory City, writes of what culminates from this diversity:

“In response to the new ethnic diversity of the work force, in 1910 the Amoskeag launched a corporate welfare and efficiency program… [which] was distinct from those of other companies in its continuity with the Amoskeag’s nineteenth-century paternalistic traditions and in the emergence of an Amoskeag ‘spirit,’ which served both for workers and management as an important source of identity (Hareven).”

Life was undoubtedly hard for workers at the mill, and many have looked back in sadness toward the use of child labor and other unfortunate mill-yard consequences, but a vibrant and unique community also grew from this “Amoskeag spirit” and “identity.” The workers and mill managers living in the blooming city of Manchester organized a wide array of social and recreational activities including dinners, picnics, baseball teams, musicals, plays, Christmas parties, and even a published monthly magazine – the Amoskeag Bulletin.

Though the last of the mills were eventually shut down by the 1970s, the city built around them continues to grow today and the word Amoskeag remains prevalent. Having looked at the definition of the name and its ties to New Hampshire history, I don’t think the editorial board could have picked a more befitting title for its journal. Amoskeag may have originally meant “abundance of fish” but to those of us familiar with the journal, the definition is quickly shifting to the “abundance of unique creative identities.”

Sources: Hareven, Tamara K., and Randolph Langenbach. AMOSKEAG: Life And Work In An American Factory-City. Random House, Inc., 1978. Print.

Welcome!

Aspiring writers, established authors, literary enthusiasts, and readers of all ages – welcome to Amoskeag’s official blog!

As Robert Begiebing, Amoskeag’s founding editor, once said in the 1986 edition of the journal: there is “no creative growth without change.” More than ever before, the journal is living by this mantra as we are diving into the modern age of social networking and online connectivity. It is our hope that this natural progression and change will bring the wondrously unique and powerful artistic expressions of our authors and contributors to a wider community of like-minded individuals everywhere.

Firstly, if you are unfamiliar with Amoskeag, we would urge you to explore some of the incredible excerpts of poetry and short fiction that we have up on the website. As always, if you like what you read, don’t hesitate to subscribe and help us grow and share the power of creative literature.

Secondly, if you are familiar with Amoskeag, why not like us on Facebook so that you can keep up to date with any and all happenings like – contests dates and information, submission periods and guidelines, release periods and subscription information, and other exciting events and dates?

Finally, and most importantly, the entire staff of Amoskeag would like to thank you for supporting us. We are very much looking forward to the release of our Identity-themed 2012 edition of the journal this spring, and hope that you will all help us grow even further in our identity as a creatively expressive literary journal.