The Lake Placid Institute is welcoming submissions to its 2011 Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Contest. One of the Institute’s flagship programs, the annual poetry contest established in 1998, is now in it’s 13th year.
This year’s judge, Dr. Sarah Barber, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at St. Lawrence University, has numerous journal publications and one book of poetry entitled, The Kissing Party. When asked to particiapte in the program, Dr. Barber replied, “I’d be delighted to serve as judge. It sounds like a terrific program. We NEED more poetry in the primary and secondary classrooms!”. The Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Contest is open to all students grade 1 – 12 (including those home schooled) within the Adirondack Park. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, March 11th, 2011. Please make sure to include the poet’s name, age, grade, teacher, and school with all poems submitted. This year the Insititute is offering three scholarships to the 2011 Champlain College Young Writer’s Conference for 11th and 12th graders. Two entries may be sent by each participant to: [email protected]
The winning poems will be published in a book entitled “Words From the Woods”. Each poet is encouraged to read their poem to the audience at an award ceremony to be held Sunday, May 1st, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts! We want to thank the LPCA for generously hosting the poetry awards ceremony each year.
The program is made possible by a lead grant from the Solon E. Summerfield Foundation, Verizon Foundation, Corning-Chisolm Fund through Adirondack Community Trust, Stewart’s Shops, Inc., and a Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks CAP Grant.
The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is seeking submissions for its Annual ACW Literary Awards. Begun in 2006, the Adirondack Literary Awards are one of the most popular events of the ACW schedule. The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2011. What follows is the submission guidelines from ACW.
Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony to be held in June (date TBA via ACW website) at the Blue Mountain Center, which donates space and resources for the event. In addition to awards in each category mentioned above, there is a People’s Choice Award as part of this festive program. For a complete list of 2009 award winners, please check out the ACW Newsletter/Annual Report at their website. Most of the books considered for awards are made available for purchase at the ceremony by the authors, and they are happy to sign their books. Those wishing to submit a book published in 2010 to be considered for an award should send two copies of the book to Director Nathalie Thill, at the ACW office with a brief cover letter including author’s contact information and description of the book’s “qualifications.” Is the author from the Adirondack region, or is the book about or influenced by the Adirondacks in some way? The cover letter should also name which category the author would like the book to be judged under: fiction, poetry, children’s literature, memoir, nonfiction, or photography. There is no entry fee. Do not include a SASE; books cannot be returned but will become part of reading rooms or libraries. The mailing address is: Adirondack Center for Writing, Paul Smith’s College, PO Box 265, Paul Smiths, New York 12970. Questions may be directed to Nathalie Thill at ACW at 518-327-6278 or [email protected]
The Adirondack Center for Writing is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is based at Paul Smith’s College and is supported by membership and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Rootsy folk-zydeco-rock band Donna the Buffalo is back in the area and plays the Waterhole Upstairs Music Lounge on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. The Roy Jay Band opens for the evening with gritty and bluesy grooves.
Donna the Buffalo’s eclectic and often socially conscious music has it’s base in traditional old-time mountain music and is infused with elements of Cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae, and country. The group’s core are vocalists Tara Nevins, who plays fiddle, guitar, accordion, and scrubboard, and guitarist Jeb Puryear. Keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark, and drummer Vic Stafford complete the ensemble. For over twenty years Donna the Buffalo (DTB) has performed feel good, infectious music that often moves listeners physically and spiritually. In the words of a longtime fan, “Their songs are well known to contain lyrics offering poetry and sage commentary on the attractions and struggles with love and politics in this life. Their magnetic musical mix has often been described as dance music, and, for sure, there is everything from foot-tapping to get-up-and-feel-ecstatic moving in their sound; but there is also some deeply satisfying solace in what DTB has to say and how they say it. The dynamic songwriting tandem of Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins have penned over 140 songs in their collaboration with DTB.”
Their fervent fan base, self-named The Herd, follows the band with zeal and has created a unique and supportive community online and at DTB shows across the nation. As an extension of this community and the band’s own dedication to live roots music, Donna started, and are still the driving force behind, the Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY. 2010 marked the festival’s 20th year. Stemming from its success, a second Grass Roots Festival was started in Silk Hope, North Carolina in 2002: the now biannual Shakori Hills Grass Roots Festival.
Over the years, Donna the Buffalo has had the opportunity to collaborate and/or record with musicians such as Jim Lauderdale, Preston and Keith Frank, Bela Fleck, Mamadou Diabate, Claire Lynch, David Hidalgo, The Duhks and Amy Helm, just to name a few. In 2009, Nevins also toured with former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.
The band’s 2008 release Silverlined, on Sugar Hill Records, rose to #8 on the Americana Music Chart. With a twenty-two year tenure to celebrate, hundreds of gigs ahead of them, and an ever-evolving grassroots sound; it looks like Donna the Buffalo is riding a cloud that is truly Silverlined.
Other exciting news is that multi-instrumentalist and DTB’s band leader, Tara Nevins, has a new album in the works at Levon Helm Studios. The album is being produced by 2 time Grammy award-winner Larry Campbell who will also be performing on the album. The new album will be put out through Sugar Hill Records in late March or early April. Check out this video of one of her new songs, Snowbird.
SUNY Potsdam’s School of Education and Professional Studies, in partnership with the College’s Department of English and Communication, invites submissions from area elementary, middle and high school students for the 2011 North Country Peace Poetry Contest.
The North Country Peace Poetry Contest is open to students in all K-12 classrooms in both public and private schools in Northern New York. Students are invited to create and submit original poems on the subject of peace. Dr. Viki Levitt is a poet and a longtime judge for the contest, and beginning this year she will serve as co-director with Dr. Jennifer Mitchell. They are taking the lead as organizers, with guidance from Dr. Sharmain van Blommestein, who coordinated the contest for several years.
“The Peace Poetry Contest provides an opportunity for young writers to express their own concepts of peace through the creative act of composing original poems. Their poems offer all of us the chance to contemplate the ideal of peace and to celebrate each others’ visions of it,” Dr. Levitt said.
Peace is a uniquely human concept, and it affirms the human spirit. Though this contest holds no formal position on the current state of world affairs, the College wants to honor the ideal of peace through young students’ writing.
Judging will occur in February and March. Contest organizers will select about 80 poems for publication in a poetry calendar with the title North Country Schools Peace Poetry, 2011. Winning students and their teachers will receive free copies of the poetry calendar, and will be invited to take part in a poetry reading on the SUNY Potsdam campus to celebrate their contributions and accept their awards.
The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is offering some interesting programs in the coming month. A memoir conference, a high school writing retreat, and two performance poetry events are on the schedule.
For workshop descriptions, and author bios, go to their web site, www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org or call the office at 518-327-6278. Saturday, October 16th – Memoir Conference
ACW is presenting “Out of the Dark and onto the Page: an Intensive Daylong MEMOIR Writing Workshop,” at the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid. You need to register today (Thursday). The day includes workshops such as “Memoir as Mystery: A Workshop and Discussion with Paul Pines”, “Open the Door and Invite the Reader In with Bibi Wein”, and “Life Lines – Writing Memoir with Mary Sanders Shartle.” The cost is $59 for ACW members and $69 for nonmembers (lunch is included).
October 28-29- High School Writing Retreat
The Adirondack Center for Writing is offering its 6th Annual High School Writing Retreat to be held October 28-29 at Paul Smith’s College. The retreat, open to students in grades 9-12 from school districts (or home schooled kids) in the Adirondacks and surrounding regions, features workshops and presentations with three acclaimed performance poets. There is space for a total of 90 students in the program.
The event consists of two days of poetry and writing, with workshops conducted by three of the nation’s top performance poets. This year we feature Roger Bonair-Agard, Rachel McKibbens, and Samantha Thornhill. The program will include a seminar on how to present and perform one’s writing in front of an audience, concluding in a performance by the three teaching poets. The cost of the entire two days, lunch included both days, is only $50 per student. Register by contacting the Adirondack Center for Writing 518-327-6278 or email [email protected] There are very few spaces left, contact ACW immediately if you would like to participate.
Thursday, October 28, 2010- ACW Presents Performance Poetry
The Adirondack Center for Writing is bringing the best performance poets of Brooklyn and Chicago to your doorstep. A performance by three spoken word poets on Thursday, October 28 at 7 p.m. will push and blur boundaries between music, art, theatre and literature. The Adirondack Center for Writing and Bluseed Studios present Word!, a night with Roger Bonair-Agard, Rachel Mckibbens, and Samantha Thornhill.
The trio will take the stage at 7:00 P.m. at Bluseed Studios, 24 Cedar Street (next to Aubuchon Hardware) in Saranac Lake. The event is free and open to the public (although donations are appreciated). In short, these three are to poetry what hip hop is to music: cutting edge, full of rhythm and style and bound to smash stereotypes.
Thursday, November 18th — ACW Presents Performance Poetry at Paul Smith’s College
The Adirondack Center for Writing and Paul Smith’s College are presenting Adam Falkner, John Sands, and Mahogany L. Brown at the College, considered “the freshest voices in the spoken word scene.” Free and open to the public. Freer Hall.
To live the life of a poet, says the actor Chris Noth, “is the ultimate political act, one of incredible bravery.”
At the very least, it’s an act of resistance or dissent, and one of last great dissenters, Peter Kane Dufault, will join Noth at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on September 23 for a conversation, a poetry reading and a screening of a new film about Dufault, What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s ‘State of the Union’.
Noth, best known for his roles in Law and Order, Sex and the City and The Good Wife, is the film’s associate producer. In the 1970s, he was a student at the Barlow School, a small, progressive boarding school in the Hudson Valley, where Peter Dufault was a teacher.
Dufault was the best teacher he ever had, said Noth, who later attended Marlborough College and the Yale School of Drama.
“He opened up a way of life to me, a life of the imagination; he showed us through his example how that life can be developed and explored through poetry,” said Noth.
What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s ‘State of the Union’ was directed by Ethan Dufault, the poet’s son, and is based on Dufault’s conversations with his father.
The title of the film, What I Meant to Tell You refers not only to what a poet might tell his country, were it willing to listen to poets, but what a father might tell his son.
“The title suggests what it is we wish we had said and heard from the people we love,” said Dufault, whose parents separated when he was a child.
But according to Michael Thomas, the film’s producer, What I meant to Tell You transcends the merely personal.
“Peter Dufault is a World War II veteran, a boxer, a musician, an environmentalist and a political activist as well as a poet. You can chart our history through his life,” said Thomas.
For Peter Dufault, poetry is the constant in his life.
“Everything else is secondary to poetry; poetry is the touchstone for every move I make,” he said.
“I concluded early in life that time was of the essence; it’s a non-recouperable commodity; every job I took was something that gave me time to squeeze out whatever poetry was in me,” Dufault said. “To be a poet means to live my own life.”
“His embattled status as a poet and a political activist is part of his strength,” says Ethan Dufault.
But, he said, his father’s “contentiousness” has hurt him professionally.
“He’s refused to play the game, but his life has not been an easy one,” said Ethan Dufault.
(Or, as Peter Dufault himself says, “I ain’t venerated, I’m resented. In England, I’m considered a great American poet. The English like my politics.”)
In 1968, Dufault ran for Congress on an anti-war platform; shortly thereafter, he began teaching at Barlow, where he taught a course in American history.
“It was unlike any other history course they were likely to take,” recalls Dufault. “It was a matter of life and death for these kids, who were either going to be drafted or find some dodge to avoid the draft. How did this nation get to the point where we were incinerating villages in Southeast Asia? That’s what I wanted them to understand.”
Politics has never been far from the center of Dufault’s life, nor for that matter, from his poetry, which makes him a rarity among American poets.
“What’s bothered me most about the majority of American poets is that they are less and less engaged; while the United States, this great millenial experiment, is crumbling at the joints, they’re undisturbed,” said Dufault. “They seem to be suffering from an attention deficit disorder.”
Dufault was first exposed to left-wing politics as an undergraduate at Harvard, when a classmate took him to a meeting of the campus chapter of the John Reed Club, then dominated by party-line communists.
Not one to adopt any party’s line, Dufault never returned. Nevertheless, in the 1950s, he found himself blacklisted from New York newspapers. He headed north, becoming editor of the Catskill Daily Mail. He then found his way into teaching.
“For me, he was a sage,” said Chris Noth. “He was always interested in what you had to say. When you showed him a poem or an essay, you always went away with a kernel of something to work with. He didn’t treat us as school boys to be talked at.”
But Dufault’s “vivacity, his capacity for enjoying life, whether it was through a soccer game, chess or a conversation,” was also a lesson in living in the world, said Noth.
“Chris Noth has done more for this film than I could have asked,” said Ethan Dufault.
In addition to helping win attention for the film, Noth also played a role, albeit an indirect one, in its inception, said Dufault.
“My father and I are both birders, and we happened to run into one another on a bird walk,” said Dufault. “He mentioned that Chris Noth had approached him about making a film about Robert Frost, but some how that fell through. So I suggested that I make a film about him.”
Of the film, Peter Dufault says, “Film is not my medium; I don’t have any personal, aesthetic or political stake in it. When Ethan first asked me to look at the footage, I was astonished by how good it was. The piece of film that I saw was of a person reciting a poem; it didn’t register as me, it was just some agreeable old fart speaking poetry; it sounded good. It was a collaboration of film and poetry which I’d never seen before. I agreed to sign on but to back off; I’ve remained outside of it by choice. Ethan has his own agenda.”
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is located at 17 Algonquin Drive in Lake Placid. The program, which is co-sponsored by the Lake Placid Institute, starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 per adult and $2 per student. People under 18 will be admitted at no cost.
The film makers are especially interested in attracting young people to the event, hence the low prices for tickets, said Michael Thomas.
“Peter Dufault is an 87 year old volcano,” said Thomas. “The kids are open to his message. They get it. We’ve held Question and Answer periods wherever we’ve screened the film, and the questions have been fantastic.”
Chris Noth will screen the film at NYU, Columbia, Yale, Middlebury and other schools.
“I talk to a lot of kids, and I’m chagrined when they say they want to study business or communications; those years of high school and college should be the time of intellectual awakening. My hope is that this film about Peter Dufault will have the same effect on them that he had on me,” said Noth.
“Today, poetry is an endangered species,” Noth said. “Peter made you feel that poetry was a noble and worthwhile endeavor, and I still feel that.”
For more information about the event , contact the Lake Placid Center for the Arts at 518-523-1312. Photos: Noth and Dufault in New York courtesy of Lake Placid Center for the Arts; Ethan and Peter Dufault courtesy of Ethan Dufault.
Lucelia Arvilla Mills Clark, a farm wife in Cranberry Lake, New York kept a journal throughout her adult life recording daily activities, neighborhood news, weather observations, illnesses, deaths, and births. The entries are short and factual, but together they offer a window into the life of a farm family in the Adirondack Mountains during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and in particular record the business of keeping everyone fed. Lucelia was born in Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County in 1852, daughter of blacksmith John R. Mills and his wife Jane Aldous Mills. In 1873, Lucelia married Henry M. Clark. The couple had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. In 1884, the family moved to Maple Grove Farm, built by Lucelia’s father, near Cranberry Lake. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Center for Writing presents three readings with three different authors in three different venues throughout the Adirondacks. All of these readings are free and open to the public.
The series kicks off with author Steve Stern reading from his latest novel, The Frozen Rabbi at Red Fox Books in Glens Falls, NY on Thursday, August 26 at 7pm. In The Frozen Rabbi a Memphis teenager stumbles upon a preserved cleric in his family’s basement freezer. “Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It’s a family tradition,” says the boy’s father. The Washington Post said, “As a metaphor for the modern incongruity of ancient religious tradition, a frozen rabbi could be embarrassingly heavy-handed, but an actual frozen rabbi? That’s just funny. Page after page, Stern embraces every outrageous possibility, in lush, cartwheeling sentences that layer deep mystery atop page-turning action atop Borscht Belt humor.”
Then ACW welcomes author and historian Colin Wells at the Grange Hall in Whallonsburg, NY on September 16th at 7pm. Wells’ talk is titled “Potty Humor and History: The Strange Friendship of Nicolo Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini” and will explore Nicolo Machiavelli’s friendship with the “first modern historian.” Wells’ most recent book is called A Brief History of History: Great Historians and the Epic Quest to Explain the Past. The book brings together evocative sketches of the great historians with concise summaries of their most important works. Wells demonstrates how brilliant minds have changed our understanding of history, how history itself moved forward over time as a way of approaching the past, and why “history” is a startlingly fluid concept, with an evolutionary course–a story–all its own.
The third and final reading in this series presents poet Jay Rogoff at the Saratoga Arts Center in Saratoga Springs on September 21 at 7pm. The author of several books of poetry, Rogoff will read from his latest book, released this September. Rogoff’s poetry has been described as “dazzling, soaring, inspiring poetry,” by Andrew Hudgins, while essayist Rachel Hadas said, “Rogoff is a wise and seasoned observer who misses almost nothing; we readers are in his debt.”
Ausable Forks was once the favored respite of one of America’s most famed and beloved actresses of her time. During the prime of her career in the 1920s, to escape constant media scrutiny, this lady returned often to the Adirondacks, a quiet, peaceful place filled with the memories of childhood.
Doris Kenyon was born on September 5, 1897, the daughter of James and Margaret Kenyon. James, once a protégé of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was a person of some renown in his own right, achieving widespread fame and praise for his skills as a poet. Many of his works were featured in Harpers, the Atlantic, and other reputable magazines. After writing two books, James remained in the literary world and became a publisher. His position would help open doors for his talented daughter.
The family lived for a time in Chaumont, New York, northwest of Watertown, and then moved to Syracuse, where Doris was born. Her brother, Raymond, nineteen years older than Doris, was a dentist and oral surgeon in both Philadelphia and Syracuse. Health issues and a deep love of hunting and fishing prompted his move to the Adirondacks in pursuit of a less strenuous life.
Ray Kenyon chose Ausable Forks as his new home, immersing himself in local life, business, and politics. He served in several key positions, including many years as chairman of the Essex County Republican Party, and several more as state assemblyman. Due to his great skill as a dentist and his affable nature, Raymond became a fixture in the community.
Young Doris was a frequent visitor and guest at her brother’s home—so frequent, in fact, that she has sometimes been claimed as an Ausable Forks native. She spent many summers at Fern Lake and was well known in the village, particularly for her singing ability.
When Doris was in her teens, her father became head of the publishing department of the National Encyclopedia of Biography. It was a position of prominence and power, earning James close ties with luminaries from many venues, including show business.
By this time, Doris had sung with different choirs and had developed a reputation for the quality of her voice. At a meeting of the Authors Club, which she attended with her father, Doris was invited to sing, delivering a very impressive performance.
Among the attendees was the renowned Victor Herbert, who had been a superb cellist in Europe, having played in the orchestra of Johann Strauss. In America, he worked at the Metropolitan Opera and became a famed composer and conductor. Like many other stars, Victor maintained a home in Lake Placid.
Her performance before the Authors Club wowed Herbert, and though Doris was only sixteen years old, he decided to cast her in the stage musical Princess Pat. The show opened on Broadway in the Cort Theatre, and Doris’ stage debut as the character Coralee Bliss was a big success. The movie industry soon showed an interest in her. (Apparently for her acting skills, and not for her lovely voice. The silent film era wouldn’t give way to talkies for another 14 years.)
Doris couldn’t resist the opportunity. She left a promising stage career to appear as Effie MacKenzie in The Rack (Milton Sills was the leading star), which was released in December 1915. That performance earned her the lead role in Pawn of Fate, released in February 1916. Within a month, Worldwide Film Corporation signed Doris to an exclusive three-year contract at $50,000 a year ($1 million per year in today’s dollars) … and she was still a teenager!
Despite her youth, Doris displayed maturity with her newfound wealth, donating to projects like the Childrens’ Home in Plattsburgh. She supported the troops during World War I, subscribing to $50,000 worth of Liberty Bonds, the highest amount of any actress in show business.
Under her new contract, Doris played the leading role in many movies. In 1917, after making A Hidden Hand for Plathe Films, she formed her own company, De Luxe Pictures. The crew stayed at the Lake Placid Club while filming its first project, The Story of Seven Stars.
As life became more hectic, Doris returned frequently to her childhood roots in Ausable Forks, spending time with Raymond. She and her brother shared an affinity for fox hunting, a very popular pastime in those days. Raymond’s camp on Silver Lake was one of Doris’ favorite places, and there she hosted luminaries from show business and other industries.
Doris went on to star in nearly fifty silent films, including 1924’s Monsieur Bocaire with living legend Rudolph Valentino, and 1925’s A Thief in Paradise with Ronald Colman. During her long career, she played opposite all the great stars of the day, among them Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, Ralph Bellamy, John Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Robert Young, and Adolph Menjou. Her fame was such that newborn Doris Kappelhoff (born in 1922) was named after Kenyon. Kappelhoff would gain great fame under her stage name, Doris Day.
One of the leading men in several of Kenyon’s movies became the leading man in her personal life. Milton Sills was a major star of the era, and he and Doris had performed together many times. In May 1926, Doris announced she had purchased her brother’s camp, and a few weeks later came an update—she and Milt Sills would soon marry … on the shores of Silver Lake!
The ceremony took place amidst the October splendor of the leaf color change, creating a sensational backdrop at the camp Doris called “Moose Missie.” And, as they honeymooned through the Adirondacks (two days in a suite of rooms in Agora at the Lake Placid Club), plus Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone Park, workmen were completing a beautiful mansion on their sixty-acre estate in Hollywood, California.
The wedding had been announced in May 1926, but was delayed until October due to Doris being ill. (Seven months after the ceremony, she gave birth to a son, Kenyon Clarence Sills.) Following the wedding and lengthy honeymoon, Doris took some time off from acting, but returned soon to star in several movies with her husband. In effect, they were the industry’s “power-couple” of the day, starring in movies and receiving constant media coverage.
In 1929, they passed the summer at Silver Lake, where Milton was recovering from illness. Doris spent several weeks at the camp, but she also did about a month of vaudeville performances before the two of them returned to making movies. And, upon special request, she served in August as a judge for the baby parade and pageant in Lake Placid’s summer carnival.
In 1929, Doris gave a concert performance in New York City, confirming that she still had a great singing voice. At the same time, unlike many other silent-film stars, she smoothly transitioned into the world of “talkies,” remaining one of Hollywood’s top stars.
In September 1930, tragedy struck Doris’ life. Shortly after playing tennis with his family, Milton Sills, 48, suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack. Doris, just 33 at the time, was devastated by the loss, and buried herself in work to help ease the pain.
She had been recognized in the past for other skills—writing, poetry, and as a pianist—but it was singing that Doris really missed. Plans had already been made for a return to regular concert performances, and after the death of Sills, Doris went on a world tour. After many successful European shows, she returned to the United States with a renewed interest in her film career.
Through the 1930s, Doris remained a major movie star, appearing in at least fourteen more films. She was also quite busy on the marital front. First came Syracuse real estate broker Arthur Hopkins in 1933, a union that lasted only a few months (annulled). Next, Doris was married to Albert Lasker in 1938 for a year (divorced). Finally, she married Bronislav Mlynarski in 1947 (that one lasted twenty-four years, ending with Mlynarski’s death in 1971).
Through the WW II years, Doris again supported the troops by singing with the USO. In the 1950s, she acted in television shows, sang on the radio, and performed two roles in radio soap operas. From silent films to the advent of television, she had done it all.
It was an incredible career spanning the Metropolitan Opera, stage, screen, vaudeville, concerts, radio, poetry, television, and writing. She was a success at everything she tried (even marriage, in the end). One of Hollywood’s lasting stars, Doris Kenyon passed away from heart trouble in September 1979, just a few days shy of her 82nd birthday.
Top Photo: Poster from a Kenyon movie.
Middle Photo: Doris Kenyon in A Thief in Paradise.
Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
Writers, editors, publishers, and book lovers gathered at the Blue Mountain Center in Blue Mountain Lake last Sunday to hear the announcements of the Adirondack Center for Writing’s (ACW’s) annual Adirondack Literary Award winners.
The Adirondack Literary Awards celebrate and acknowledge the books that were written by Adirondack authors or published in the region in the previous year. All of the books submitted for consideration this year were on display, giving a visual sense of the scope of our Adirondack literary achievements, and many of the authors had signed copies of their books for sale. This year’s winners were:
Best Book of Poetry: American Cool by George Drew (Tamarack Editions)
Best Children’s Book: Bug Boy by Eric Luper (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The award for best book of nonfiction went to Short Carries, Essays from Adirondack Life, Elizabeth Folwell (Adirondack Life, Inc) which also took home the People’s Choice Award, which is voted on by ACW members for the best book of the year, regardless of genre.
For the first time the nonfiction judges acknowledged a “sleeper of the year” award which went to Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks, edited by Annie Stoltie and Elisabeth Ward and published by Shaggy Dog Press.
Judges for the Adirondack Literary Awards were:
Nonfiction and memoir: Bibi Wein and Jerry McGovern
Fiction: Ellen Rocco and Joseph Bruchac (no fiction award was named this year, all entries will be considered next year)
Poetry: Stephanie Coyne-DeGhett and Maurice Kenny
Children’s Literature: Danielle Hoepfl and Nancy Beattie
Birders love their birds, and botanists love their flowers; rock-hounds love their rocks and minerals, and entomologists love their insects. But who loves the grasses, sedges and rushes? Even though some members of this group of plants have become global celebrities (wheat, corn, rye), most are overlooked by the majority of people, or at least they are in this country, where the knowledge of local plant life is no longer vital to our daily survival.
Those who took a basic botany course in college probably learned some version of the rhyme “Sedges have edges and Rushes are round; Grasses have joints where elbows are found,” an amusing bit of poetry designed to help students learn which of these plants were which. As with all such things, there is an element of truth in it, but every rule has its exceptions. Learning to tell grasses from sedges from rushes can be a challenge and one that not too many are willing to tackle. We like grass in our lawns and not in our gardens (unless it is ornamental), but there our knowledge ends. In an effort to try and stimulate a little interest in these seemingly “boring” plants, let me share some quick descriptors from Grasses, an Identification Guide, by Lauren Brown.
We’ll start with grasses. Grasses have (usually) round stems that are (mostly) hollow, and long narrow leaves with parallel veins. When you get to the part of the stem where the leaf is attached, the stem is solid and a little node or joint is formed. The base of the leaf (called the sheath) wraps around the stem at this joint. On grasses the sheath is split open along part of its length. When a grass blooms, its flowers grow in two rows along the stalk. The base of the flowering portion of the plant has two empty scales (no flowers inside).
Sedges can look a lot like grasses to the untrained eye. Keep in mind, though, that they have solid stems, and their stems are often, but not always, triangular (hence, they have “edges”). The leaves, which are also long, narrow and have parallel veins, wrap around the stem, too, but their sheaths are entirely closed. The flowers grow in a spiral around the stalk, and there are no empty scales at the base of the flowering section. You will tend to find sedges in cooler and wetter areas than grasses.
This brings us to rushes. Rushes are round (but then, so are most grass stems). Their leaves are also similar to those of the grasses and sedges: long, narrow, and with parallel veins. Their stems can be solid or hollow. Unlike the grasses, however, they don’t have nodes/joints. And unlike the grasses and sedges, their flowers are terribly tiny and occur in a circle at the very tip of the stem. Described as lily-like, the flowers have three petals and three sepals. Like the sedges, rushes prefer cool, damp habitats.
Recently a friend and I were out exploring the Ice Meadows of the Hudson River, just outside Warrensburg. This is a special habitat that runs for about 16 miles along the course of the river, where the heavy snows and ice of winter collect to depths often in excess of ten feet. Spring thaws send these small glaciers grinding along the river, scouring the cobble-strewn shore and rocky upthrusts of all but the most tenacious of plants. Anything tall and resembling a shrub stands very little chance of surviving the seasonal onslaught. The end result is one of New York’s few native grasslands. But don’t expect to find something that looks like the prairies of the Midwest. These grasslands would probably be better named “rocklands,” but the term Ice Meadows suits.
Our goal this particular morning was to find and photograph dwarf sand cherry (Prunus pumila var. depressa), a lovely sprawling plant that is on the state’s protected species list. We found it blooming in all its glory and immortalized it in pixels. The highlight of the walk for me, however, was a sedge.
Like most folks, I haven’t taken the time to try and learn many grasses, sedges or rushes. Oh, I have a of couple books, and on more than one occasion I have declared I’m going to learn them, but soon they seem overwhelming in their similarity and difficulty to ID. In truth, however, there are plenty of differences if we just take the time to learn them.
This particular plant caught my eye because of its lovely colors (see photo above). I had never seen such a grass (which I incorrectly thought it was) before. The black and green striped scales were stunningly beautiful. I was seized by its splendor like a teenager dazzled by a movie star.
My botany buddy told me that it was Buxbaum’s sedge (Carex buxbaumii), a threatened species in New York State. This was another target species for our trip here, although admittedly it was secondary to the dwarf sand cherries. Most of them weren’t blooming yet, but that was fine by me, for it was the bicolored pistallate scales that had me enthralled.
It turns out that Buxbaum’s sedge, also called brown bog sedge, is a circumpolar species that has a global status of G5 (secure), while in NY its abundance is listed as S2 (imperiled). It was named after Johann Christian Buxbaum, a German botanist who lived from 1693 until 1730. I’m not sure if he “discovered” this plant or not – sources have not been forthcoming on this point. As for the label “brown bog sedge”, well, it likes wet, boggy areas, and the stripes on its scales are actually brown, not black.
The delightful discovery of this unassuming plant has renewed my interest in learning my grasses, sedges and rushes. A daunting task, perhaps, but not impossible. With the added incentive of hanging out with other amateur botanists whose knowledge of plants is nothing short of impressive, I feel pretty confident that this summer I will master at least a few of these treasures that are hidden in plain sight.
The 5th Annual Adirondack Center For Writing (ACW) Literary Awards Ceremony will be held June 6, 3-5 pm at the Blue Mountain Center. The Adirondack Literary Awards is a juried awards program that honors books published in or about the Adirondacks in the previous year. Now one of the most popular annual events of the Adirondack Center for Writing, the event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Nathalie at ACW (phone or email) if you plan to attend, as a count is needed. She can also provide directions.
In addition to juried awards in each category (fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and nonfiction), there is a People’s Choice Award at this festive program (one vote per member please). ACW members are encouraged to send in their votes for their favorite book of the year via email, phone, or mail. A complete list of submissions by category follows. Voting is also permitted at the awards ceremony itself. Most of the books considered for awards are made available for purchase at the ceremony by the authors, and they are happy to sign their books. Questions may be directed to ACW at 518-327-6278, [email protected]
Immediately following the ceremony, all are welcome to join us for dinner and great conversation at The Hedges. The cost is $35 per person and all proceeds benefit ACW. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting the ACW office at 518-327-6278, [email protected]
Lucifer, A Hagiography, Philip Memmer, Lost Horse Press; Cold Earth Wanderers and other Adirondack Writings, Various Authors, RA Press; 12993, Judith Dow Moore, RA Press; Sunrise, Sunset, Nadine McLaughlin, Graphics North; American Cool, George Drew, Tamarack Editions; Two Heads, David Parkinson and Judith D. Moore, RA Press; Seven Storms, Chuck Gibson, RA Press; Blue Mountain Rider, Mary Benson and Hedy Strauss, Xlibris
Saying Goodbye to Port Davis High, Dave Donohue, RA Press; Adirondack Detective, The Years Pass, John H. Briant, Chalet Publishing; Rehabilitation, Timothy J. Brearton, Illegal Dog Press
Adirondack Mouse and the Mysterious Disappearance, Irene Uttendorfsky, Spruce Gulch Press; Adirondack Kids #9: Legend of the Lake Monster, Justin and Gary VanRiper, Adirondack Press; My Little Book of Bald Eagles, Hope I. Marston, Windward Publishing; Bug Boy, Eric Luper, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Adirondack ABCs, Joyce B. Snavlin, North Country Books, Inc.
The Adirondacks that are the Other Half of Me, Mary A. Paladin, Booksurge; American by Choice, Walter Kroner, Shires Press; Adirondack Retreat: My Midlife Journey to Wholeness, Kathleen S. McPhillips, Booksurge
Terror in the Adirondacks, Lawrence P. Gooley, Bloated Toe Publishing; The Adirondack Reader, Edited by Paul Jamieson with Neal Burdick, Adirondack Mountain Club; Kaddish in Wood, Herbert Savel, M.D., Florida Holocaust Museum; Adirondack Stories II, Marty Podskoch, Podskoch Press; Warren County (New York): Its People and Their History over Time, Various Authors, The Donning Company Publishers; The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park, Edited by William F. Porter, Jon d. Erickson and Ross S. Whaley, Syracuse University Press; Ghosts of Clinton County, Gordie Little, North Country Books, Inc.; Short Carries, Essays from the Adirondack Life, Elizabeth Folwell, Adirondack Life, Inc.; Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack, John Warren, The History Press; The Young Poets of Port Henry High School, Various Authors, RA Press; Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks, Edited by Annie Stoltie and Elisabeth Ward, Shaggy Dog Press
The Adirondacks In Celebration of the Seasons, Mark Bowie, North Country Books, Inc.; Lake George, Carl Heilman, North Country Books, Inc.
The Lake Placid Institute has announced the 2010 Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Contest winners for poets in grades 1-12 throughout the Adirondack region. The winning poems were selected by Theo Hummer, a visiting professor of English at St. Lawrence University who has taught creative writing, composition, and cultural studies in a Czech cigarette factory, at two northeastern liberal arts colleges and one Ivy League university, and at the maximum-security men’s prison in Auburn, NY. Her poetry has been featured in Vox, Sentence, Equilibrium, The Indiana Review, Best New Poets 2006, and on Verse.com. She is the daughter of the poet and musician T.R. Hummer. All of the winning poems will be included in this year’s poetry booklet “Words From the Woods” and will also be published on the Institute’s website. The awards ceremony honoring the winners will take place in Lake Placid at the Lake Placid Center of the Arts on Sunday, May 2nd at 3:00 p.m.
This year the Lake Placid Institute offered four scholarships to high school students for the Young Writer’s Conference, a spring writing workshop specifically for high school students that takes place this May on the beautiful campus of Champlain College in Burlington, VT. For dedicated young writers, it is a chance to meet others who share their passion and to study the craft with some of the area’s most celebrated authors and teachers. The scholarship winners are:
Margaret Smith, “Lamas” Age 14, Grade 9 Long Lake Central School Teacher — M. Farrell
Alex Steele, “I owe my success” Age 16, Grade 10 Westport Central School Teacher – Mr. Gibbs
Una Creedon-Carey, “Beige & Blue” Age 17, Grade 11 Plattsburgh High School Teacher — Dr. Demarse
Larissa O’Neil, “Somber Blaze” Age 17, Grade 12 Galway High School Teacher — Mrs. McDonald
This year’s Great Adirondack Poetry Contest winners are:
North Country Community College and the Adirondack Center for Writing are presenting WordSpring!, a night of performance by three spoken word poets: Liza Jessie Peterson, Jon Sands, and Jeanann Verlee. “These three are to poetry what hip hop is to music: cutting edge, full of rhythm and style and bound to smash stereotypes,” according to a press announcement issued last week.
The trio, will take the stage at 7:00 P.m. on Thursday, April 29th at the David W. Petty Lecture Hall on the North Country Community College Campus in Saranac Lake. The event is free and open to the public. For five years, the Adirondack Center for Writing has been bringing performance poets to the Adirondacks and every time they pack the house. “We are so excited to bring these three new poets to North Country Community College.” says Adirondack Center for Writing director Nathalie Thill, “For years we have brought various spoken word poets to the area to lead writing workshops for high school students and they have developed quite a following locally. This will be the first time these particular poets have performed in the Adirondacks, and I am certain the audience will be blown away.”
Liza Jessie Peterson is a classically trained actress and alumnus of the renowned National Shakespeare Conservatory and has been a student of the legendary coach to the stars, Susan Batson, since 1994. Liza has performed her poetry on HBO’s Def Poetry. Known most for her exceptional poetic skills, Liza began her poetry career at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café in 1995 and was a vital member of the enclave of notable poets who were part of the “underground slam poetry” movement before it attracted television cameras and national obsession. It was this electric group of artists that inspired Russell Simmons to bring “slam poetry” to HBO.
Liza has also appeared in several feature films and has written several plays. Liza has taught creative writing and poetry to youth at Rikers Island and in high risk communities for over a decade.
Jon Sands has been a full-time independent teaching & performing artist since 2007. He’s a recipient of the 2009 New York City-LouderARTS fellowship grant, and has represented New York City multiple times at the National Poetry Slam, subsequently becoming an NPS finalist. Jon has performed and facilitated workshops with university and arts organizations throughout North America, and is currently the Director of Poetry and Arts Education Programming at the Positive Health Project, a syringe exchange center located in Midtown Manhattan, as well as a Youth Mentor with Urban Word-NYC. Jon’s poems have appeared in decomP magazinE, Suss, The Literary Bohemian, Spindle Magazine, The November 3rd Club, and others. He is also one-fourth of the nationally acclaimed electricity-fest, The SpillJoy Ensemble. Jon lives in New York City, where he makes better tuna salad than anyone you know.
Jeanann Verlee is an author, performance poet, editor, activist, and former punk rocker who collects tattoos and winks at boys. Her work has appeared and been accepted in numerous publications, including The New York Quarterly, PANK, FRiGG, decomP, Danse Macabre, and “Not A Muse,” among others. Her first book of poetry, “Racing Hummingbirds,” will be published by Write Bloody Press in March 2010. Verlee was the highest-scoring individual poet at the 2008 National Poetry Slam Finals, is the 2009 NYC-Urbana iWPS Champion, and has represented New York City multiple times at the National Poetry Slam as both competitor and team coach. She proudly serves as co-curator for the Urbana Poetry Slam reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club. Verlee has performed and facilitated workshops at schools, theatres, bookstores, dive bars and poetry venues across North America. She shares an apartment with her dog and a pair of origami lovebirds. She believes in you.
Photo: John Sands, Performance Poet (Photo Provided).
I wouldn’t miss the Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios tonight. Always an interesting and fun night out. The performances are kept to a two-song or seven-minute maximum so the night moves along at a comfortable pace. It’s a great way to support local musicians and poets, and this one has the lovely Celia Evans hosting.
Staying inside the park Saturday night, I’d see Lissa Scheckenburger and Bethany Waickman, also at BluSeed. I know Bethany. She plays the guitar the way I’d like to. Even though it’s a drive, if I were in the mood to really move my body (and because I missed the 20 Main gig) I’d check out Capital Zen in Saratoga Springs. The energy that comes through on their recorded stuff must be even better live — I love a hot bass line.
In Ellenburg Depot, ALASH, Throat Singers from Tuva will be giving a performance at The Northern Adirondack High School Auditorium. This is located at 5572 Route 11. The doors open at 6:30 pm and he show goes from 7 – 9 pm.
In Plattsburgh, Viennese Romance , Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival will be held at 7:30 pm at SUNY. For more information call: (802) 846-217 or email: [email protected]
In Canton, Urban Verbs: Where Hip Hop Meets Life will be performed at St. Lawrence University. Held from 7:30 – 9:30 pm this show explores the blur between music, poetry and daily life. For more information call: (315) 229-5659.