August 18, 2014

Sense of Place: Local Writers Read, August 17

This was the final reading of the weekend long “Rensselaerville Festival of Writers” & was held in Conkling Hall. The readers included invited local guest writers, & the winners & finalists of the juried Regional Writers Contest. I had the honor last year of reading in this program.

Claire North
The readers were introduced by Claire North, who was also the 1st reader; she read what she described as a long poem, “It’s Mattress Burning Time,” a prosy narrative set in the past & based on stories she heard from aunts who had been nurses in Appalachia. She was followed by Peter Bourdreaux who read an excerpt from a short story set on a farm in the past, narrated by a young girl, “In a Field of Black Pearls”. Maryann Ronconi’s short story “The Van Arnsdale Secret” was actually an extended joke with the punch line “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb.”

Norman Cohen

The next 2 readers were the “First Place Winners.” Norman Cohen read a touching love poem titled “The Helderberg, a One-Sided Mountain.” Howard Kogan read 2 poems, “Mittens” about an old farmer, & a poem about trapping raccoons “Old Jack.”

Mary Armao McCarthy
The final readers were, appropriately enough, the “Finalists.” Diane Kavanaugh-Black’s poignant memoir of a dying friend was titled “Climbing Mountains.” Mary Armao McCarthy illustrated her humorous essay “Living With Wild Life” with a cartoon drawing of a skunk & kept us laughing. Irene Mitchell read a series of poems, “Softly Through the Woods,” “To the Heart’s Architect: Building Our Home at Schodack Landing,” & “Wake Up” (on the train between NYC & Albany). The final reader was Barbara Louise Ungar with 2 poems from a forthcoming (2015) poetry collection Immortal Medusa, “Black Fly My Love” & the ephemeral “Green Fire.”

It was an afternoon of pleasant, often funny, sometimes tender stories, but the topics were completely rural, as if the New Yorkers’ caricature of “Upstate” New York as filled with farmers, hicks, cows & black flies were true -- as maybe it is?. But where were our urban writers & poets of place?

No comments: