Bookstock: the Green Mountain Festival of Words will be a magnet for poetry lovers during its festival on Friday, July 29 and Saturday July 30. The festival is being held for its third year and is free and open to the public. Go to www.bookstockvt.org for a complete listing of events, which includes authors, music, art and book sales.
For the first time, the festival will hold an open Poetry Jam, to happen At 8 pm, Friday, July 29 at the upstairs room at Bentley’s Restaurant.
Hosting the Jam will be Michael Nedell and Jeff Hewitt, both Vermont state slam champs and US national competitors. All are welcome. Food and drink available from the bar below. Adrian Tans, director of ArtisTree Gallery, designed the event.
As in earlier festivals, a poetry track will run through Saturday —this time at the Windsor County Courthouse. Published books by the authors will be sold at the venue by Shiretown Books.
Buzz Boswell, until recently the executive director of Pentangle, has selected five poets from New England. Boswell says “the poetry field is rich in the Upper Valley, but we want look wider throughout New England. They all have a national or international resonance.”
Peter Money will introduce the poets on Saturday, July 30, 11:45 AM. Bookstock’s host poet resides in Brownsville, is a nominee for state Poet Laureate, and directs Harbor Mountain Press. He will warm up the room with some of his own poems.
David Budbill, one of Vermont’s most well known poets, will read at noon. He is the author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel, fiction, essays, and is a performance poet on two CDs. Garrison Keillor reads frequently from David’s poems on his National Public Radio program The Writer’s Almanac.
Money notes that Budbill is a “ friend of locals Peggy and Lou Kannenstine, painter and recording producer respectively, He brings to his stage a sort of Coleman Barks and Robert Bly reading Rumi, only David’s is from the kinds of conversations he’s had with the Vermonters of his neighborhood.”
Dartmouth professor Cleopatra Mathis will come on at 1 pm. Money says she is “prodigious and classical” in her poetry. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including “What to Tip the Boatman?” (2001), which won the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poems.
The New York Times Book Review wrote that her poetry “enthralls without throwing the reader off a cliff. And all the while she brandishes the gifts of a talented poet who has hit her stride.” Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker. She directs the creative writing program at Dartmouth.
At 2 PM, the audience will hear from Wesley McNair. A New Hampshire native, he was brought up observing Upper Valley local traits and tendencies, according to Money.
McNair’s poems capture the ordinary lives of northern New Englanders while revealing family conflict and other autobiographical subjects. He has lived for many years in Mercer, Maine, and has authored more than half a dozen collections of poetry. He has received many fellowships. Wesley is currently professor emeritus and writer in residence at the University of Maine at Farmington.
The final poet of the day will be Sharon Olds, at 3 p.m. She is winner of several prestigious awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award. One of her books, “The Dead and the Living,” sold a phenomenal 50,000 copies. She has been poet laureate of New York state.
Peter Money remembers seeing Sharon Olds read twenty-years ago in SoHo. He describes her as a master of poems about the body, a frank reader who “feels the words as she felt them the first time. There is a sad astonishment and unbridled reverie in her work.”
One reviewer for the New York Times said, “Her work has a robust sensuality, a delight in the physical that is almost Whitmanesque.”
This article first appeared in the July 14th print edition of the Vermont Standard.