Is there life in Essex, NY after the July 4th holidays? Absolutely. And poetry too!
On Tuesday night I witnessed plenty of both at the Adirondack Art Association. A month after the first Essex poetry reading, the old firehouse in downtown Essex once again summoned Champlain Valley poets and poetry aficionados for a celebration of words, rhythms and literary adventure.
Poignant Poetry in Essex
Although event organizer Jeff Moredock was absent, Steven Krolak, a writer and the Executive Director of the Adirondack Art Association swept into the breach, orchestrating an often poignant, always entertaining evening. Krolak read a moving tribute to his wife’s victorious battle with cancer and then plunged into a poem which showcased the idiosyncrasies of Las Vegas.
A seethe of gamblers winos whores
Scrawny old gals in bathrobes and fuzzy mules
Clutch cottage-cheese tubs
Full of nickels
Paunchy sansabelt wankers
Huff down two-buck buffets
In doorways the women
They lean and wait
Or simply try to fall
~ Steven Krolak, “The Onegin Of Vegas“
Krolak’s glimpse into the less-than-bucolic world beyond Essex was revisited by several writers focusing on cultural, political and even meteorological malaise. In “Wave Length” Donna Joerg offered a rhythmic reflection on 21st century digital natives “digitally born… [who believe] they’ve evolved genetically / Beyond the dial tone”. The sardonic tone of the poem was balanced by her melodious delivery and clever quips to ensure levity:
… thumb-punching away
Into the virtual ether
Where a net might catch no fish
… deficits of attention to the point of disorder
this will not be had on a blackberry
unless you eat it
~ Donna Joerg, “Wave Length”
Joerg’s poetry, like her singing and guitar playing, is an invitation to loosen up and smile and abandon whatever distractions are vying for your attention. Like a familiar storyteller Joerg slows your pulse and pulls you in with her lilting, leisurely cadence.
Poetic Marital Bliss
Two couples, Bonnie and Al Haberle and Kathy and Bill Poppino reminded the audience that one of the keys to a happy marriage is shared version. All four writers shared poems. Bonnie Haberle read a bittersweet eulogy for a close friend which cleverly knit a blue sweater into memories of a friendship. Following the reading Krolak described Kathy Poppino’s poetry as “dense, clever, rhythmic and well crafted.” A flattering accolade from a skilled wordsmith!
Fountains of Youth
Two young poets, ten year old Colleen Torrans and Willsboro 8th grader Laura Klein, shifted the chronological and emotional demographic, the latter appearing for her second Essex poetry reading. Klein’s poise and linguistic maturity once again impressed the audience, and Torrans’ energetic poems about dragons and unicorns provoked smiles all around, trumped only by her extemporaneous recitation of a limerick that she had written and memorized.
Rural North Country Poetry in Essex
Rick Bessette, a Shelburne, Vermont farmer who discovered his poetic calling much after his agricultural vocation read several poems from A Vermonter’s Heritage: Listening to the Trees including the title poem which opens with this evocative invitation to contemplate the cycles of nature.
Bessette’s poems capture Vermont’s rural majesty in rhyming quatrains, a style that he inherited from his uncle, Joe Thomas.
Judith Moore and Mary Beal, both veterans of the June poetry reading, shared insightful poetry at least partly inspired by the tendency for Adirondack farms to be replaced by second homes. Let us hope that one silver lining of a real (or perceived) shift from tradition and agriculture to vacationing and leisure will continue to inspire such powerful artistic artifacts!
Photos from June 2012 Poetry in Essex
Here are a few fuzzy photographs shot on my mobile phone before the battery succumbed to the eloquent poetry and went on strike to ruminate in literary bliss…
If you took photos and wish to include them in this gallery, please contact me. Thanks!
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