For nigh on these many years the folks up in Rensselaerville at Conkling Hall & at the Rensselaerville Library have been holding this event during April & this year you didn’t have to drive up into the mountains to participate, or attend, you could Zoom in from anywhere. & many did. There were some invited local poets to read original work, & others from the community (& elsewhere) invited to read their favorite poems.
The program was introduced by John Arrighi from the Friends of Conkling Hall & by Heidi Carle from the Rensselaerville Library. Linda Miller served as the host/moderator & shared one of her own poems in the lineup.
A good poem to start this off with was Mark Nepo’s “Way Under the Way,” in his guru mode, read by Philomena Moriarty. Mark W. O’Brien read a poem by Seamus Heaney & one of his own. Sarah Nelson sang one of her poems, accompanying herself on the ukulele. She was followed by another poem done up as a song, “For Emily” (Dickinson, that is) done by Charlie Rossiter accompanied on guitar by Jack Rossiter-Munley.
I read an urban poem about meeting poets on the street titled simply “Poem.” Phyllis Hillinger introduced some humor with her piece “Masked Benefits.” Mimi Moriarty’s “Instructions for Spring Cleaning” was also humorous, albeit grim. Linda Miller read one of her poems & one by Ross Gay.
Ellen Rook (pictured) who does live in the area was attending from Maine, read her poem “thrush morning.” Dennis Winslow read the famous poem by British poet William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1903) titled “Invictus” about facing adversity. Mike Maggio attended from Virginia to read a poem about his brother “Elegy in D Minor.” Claire North was in Vermont & read 2 poems, one titled “Lorica for Uncertainty’s Invasions,” playing on the term lorica, meaning a piece of body armor, but also a prayer, from the Irish monastic tradition, for protection.
Jane Mendelson read from what was listed on the program as Happily Jane and the Pooka by Angie McDonough. Philippa Dunne (pictured) recited 2 poems from memory by one of my favorite Chinese poets, Han Shan (Cold Mountain). Susan Oringel read one of her pandemic poems “In the Beginning.” And Mary Ann Ronconi brought the program to a close with her poem aptly titled “This is Spring.”
And so, with the help of Zoom & some dedicated volunteers the 16th Annual Favorite Poem Project was able to take place in spite (or because of) the pandemic ban on massed gatherings. Perhaps next year next year I’ll have to take the long drive up the mountain, but then if I do perhaps there will be a few hugs, instead of just waving on the computer screen.