Mass MoCA Poetry Residency: Tuesday

Today was full of surprises and women’s voices.

This morning, we had a fabulous session with Carol Ann Davis. She masterfully tailored her talk, handouts, and exercises to our group of poets, with so many useful tips that I should make them into a (large) sampler and keep them beside me when I write. She graciously signed two of her poetry books for me which I am looking forward to reading when I am in a more relaxed situation.

Most of our group had a fun lunch at Brewhaha, which is close to Mass MoCA and our residency apartments, then went in several different directions. I wanted to go visit the North Adams downtown churches and take some photos, because I am writing a poem that features them. Another poet who fancied a walk on this gorgeous afternoon accompanied me as I played tour guide. I took her into the library, which was once the home of the Blackinton family, owners of a woolens mill and the wealthiest residents in the city. I used to go to the library as a child because it was so much larger than the one in Monroe Bridge, which occupied a relatively small room in the school/town offices/town hall. On Saturday trips to the North Adams library, I remember climbing the grand staircase to the children’s section. The library has since been renovated and is even more beautiful than it was 45 years ago. It also has a new, LEED-certified expansion in the back, so there is plenty of space.

We circled back to the studios. I needed to pick up my things to bring them to the Tupelo loft for a 3:30 presentation. Because the batteries in my camera had died on the first walk, I headed back up Main Street to continue my photo-taking tour. I had made my way back to the library and was taking photos of woodwork and fireplaces and chandeliers and the staircase, when someone called my name. It was Cousin Kim, from B’s side of the family, who was up from Cape Cod visiting old haunts. I had not seen her in over twenty years. As a Facebook friend, she had seen my blogposts and knew I was in North Adams, but had resolved not to contact me because she knew we were busy. We had time for hugs and about twenty minutes of conversation before I had to get to the loft and she had to head back to the Cape. It was a wonderful bit of serendipity.

At the loft, Cassandra led an enlightening exploration of the use of space in poetry, with wonderful exemplars and discussion. It was fun for me that music made several notable appearances. I love drawing music and poetry together as some of my poetic impulse came from the forced diminishment of my musical life. But that’s a whole other blog post…

I ate dinner on my own so that I could talk to B and tell him about Kim. And I got to have a mocha sundae for dessert, although it is not as good as in childhood days at Apothecary Hall where we used to go with Nana. Another poem I need to write.

This evening, we continued our reading series among ourselves. I read with my three apartment mates. We had so much fun! The others’ poetry was amazing and I so loved hearing it in their own voices. It was also fun for me to read so many of my poems at once. It’s the first time I have ever read more than three poems at an event. It was fun, even though I kept reading poems about illness and death. I did sprinkle in some lighter poems and ended with my Mahler haibun, although I realized too late that I had grabbed an earlier draft.

I get a chance at redemption tomorrow as we hope to do a recording of the whole group in the boiler room sound installation. We may even record it on video, which would be cool, especially if we get to share.

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

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