On Sept. 26, 2019, the University of Maine at Presque Isle welcomed LDLS speaker Dr. Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. After a brief but heartwarming welcome from President Rice, Alst took the stage. Delivering a talk entitled “Matters of Place,” Alst captured his audience’s attention with humor and his apparent passion for writing.
Alst graduated from UMPI in 2004 with a bachelors in behavioral science. He shared how he found his way to UMPI. “I’m from away,” he said. “But both of my kids were born here. They were both born at TAMC. It was pretty cool.” After his children were born, Alst was working for a local mill when he decided to begin classes at UMPI. “I found a cool program and they sent me to UMPI and paid for my first semester,” Alst said. “They were like ‘you have to get new clothes, though. You can’t dress like that.” He went on to share a story of how he received a voucher to go buy new clothes and wound up buying more of the same clothes he had before.
Reminiscing about his days at UMPI and the classes he took with then Dr. Rice, Alst shared how he found his interest in writing. “Editing is actually a joy,” he joked. “The next tattoos I get are going to be the proofreader symbols.” Giving further advice on the importance of editing, Alst touched upon writing for an audience. “You have to tell them everything that you want them to know,” he said. “You’re not there reading along, pointing out this mistake or that one. You know, like when you’re trying to impress your significant other by playing guitar and you go ‘Oh wait, oh wait, oh wait’? You can’t do that.”
Kylee Mejia, a first-year student at UMPI, found her first LDLS to be more interesting than she thought it would be. “I wasn’t sure if I would find interest in the lecture,” Mejia said. “But then when Dr. Alst began cracking jokes, I got more into it. He made listening to him talk enjoyable, like I wasn’t at a distinguished lecture.” Mejia shared that her experience attending the lecture made her interested to attend more in the future.
To conclude, Alst shared three readings from his latest novel “Sacred Smokes.” His truly inspiring but deeply emotional stories really captured the attention of his audience at UMPI. If you are interested in reading about him further or purchasing his work, Alst’s latest novel can be found for sale on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0826359906/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0.