Amber Dermont sailed the waves with her reading of 'Starboard Sea'

Amber Dermont, a well-known New England novelist, presents an emotional snippet of one of her books at Barnes and Nobles at Storrs Center on Thursday, Oct. 20.  (Miguel Morales/The Daily Campus) 

Every minute with Amber Dermont on the stage brought laughter, to the point that audience members forgot they were there to listen to her read her novel “Starboard Sea.”

Students, faculty and the public gathered at the University of Connecticut Bookstore in Storrs Center Thursday evening to listen to a reading, but also discovered her humorous side as she cracked jokes throughout the entire event.

“I don’t know if anyone has any questions, but … I am happy to pretend to impart wisdom.”  Dermont said.  

Jokes aside, Dermont is one of many authors who have participated in the visiting writers series, sponsored by the UConn English Department’s creative writing program.

“We try to get a wide variety of authors to come visit,” said Erica Buehler, a seventh-semester English major and intern at the creative writing program. “I think it’s to get not just students, but the entire UConn community to discover new things and new people, authors they normally wouldn’t read nor normally see.”

Many regular attendees appreciate the visiting writers series because it fosters a sense of community within the university.

“Because the [visiting writers] series is located outside of the classroom, it reminds us that we are not just students but people, and that, as people, we can have the arts can be part of our everyday lives and cultural experience,” UConn English professor Margaret Breen said.

Dermont’s novel “Starboard Sea” is set at Bellingham Academy in New England. The story follows 18-year-old Jason on his journey through the underbelly of elitist privilege, emotional intimacy with a girl named Aidan and the mysteries of their troubled past.

“Most of us who found ourselves at Bellingham have been kicked out of better schools – for stealing or having sex, smoking weed; rich kids, who got caught, given a second chance only to be caught again then finally expelled,” Dermont read from her bestselling book. “Bellingham offered us sanctuary, minimal regulations and a valuable lesson: breaking rules could lead to more freedom.”

Most of the students that attended the event spoke about how they loved Dermont for her sense of humor.

“It was very funny,” said Ali Oshinskie, a seventh-semester English major. “I wish she could teach here.”

Buehler encourages anyone who has an interest in creative writing, even if it’s a hobby, to attend one of the visiting writers series events.

“Every visiting writer that we have is so different,” Buehler said. “All their works are so different from one another but they’re all good and interesting.”

The next visiting writer series event will take place at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the UConn Bookstore, and will support the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.


Arlene Blum is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at arlene.blum@uconn.edu.