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  • The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

SERENDIPITOUS OCCURRENCE: 3 Poets / National Poetry Month - April, 2024

Tisha Dolton, of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, kindly, invited me to share any suggestion I might have for a blog in honor of National Poetry Month and three distinguished poets, Sherry Moore Kearns, Michael Perkins, and Paul Pines, all close friends- and all of whom I met through William Bronk, naturally come to mind. Each led a poetry workshop I attended at Crandall Library in the 1980s, the heyday, locally, of public interest in poetry. A brief description of their respective workshops follows. Also, from each poet’s opus one poem has been selected. The poems have in common, among other things, an arresting serendipitous occurrence…from which occurrence, arresting philosophical, and poetic, ruminations evolve.


 

Sherry’s was first, and this is where she and I met. In the fall of 1982, Bill mentioned to me that a friend of his was to run a poetry workshop, at Crandall Library, that he thought I might like and benefit from. We convened once a week, in the evening. I had no car so, at first, I bicycled to the Library from Hudson Falls, my hometown. Later, I drove a big, loud, old Oldsmobile my uncle gave me. Attendees, including Ms. Kearns, brought work, made copies in the basement, then each participant read their poem[s], and the others commented. This process I have sometimes, half-jokingly, referred to as “feeding the sharks.” All work was treated seriously and responses, though unpredictable, were honest and frank. It took courage to share. Sherry’s comments, as

leader, were invariably cleareyed and insightful, delicately-stated, and helpful.


THE MAPLE IN BLOSSOM


So many bees came to the maple tree,

their humming was audible in the house.

The tree, shimmering with their movement,

appeared iridescent. We, too, show in this way,

how full of moving blood we are in flower.


-Sherry M. Kearns (from Deep Kiss; 2013)



One autumn day in 1985, I was running up Crowley Road, in Kingsbury, when I noticed Bill walking with someone down a sloping field. I waited for them; that’s where, and when, I met Michael Perkins. He had known Bill for years and, at this time, was in town for his workshop at Crandall Library, soon to start. He lived near Woodstock, New York, and commuted. All participants in Michael’s workshop read what they brought and the others commented. The atmosphere was casual, earnest, nervous, hopeful, encouraging, intense. Michael, occasionally, selected poems for publication in a broadside series, he entitled PAGE. For many, if not all, this was our first time being published. Several PAGE broadsides survive in my personal collection.


ORDINARY DAYS


Halcyon, unremarkable,

They are treasured most because

No one calls or comes by.

Nothing happens but the sun.

Such freedom comes seldom;

Chinese scholars a thousand years ago

Enjoyed such ordinary days.


-Michael Perkins (from A Splendor Among Shadows; 2013)



PAGE 7, December 1985 featuring poem by Richard Carella <Private collection, used with permission>

Paul, I believe as a stipulation of the grant he received for his workshop there, gave a reading at Crandall Library in about 1987, which I attended. After his reading there was a gathering, in his honor, at Bill Bronk’s home, in Hudson Falls. I was invited, and this is where Paul and I met. Paul’s workshop was more structured and, somewhat, reminiscent of a class. There were handouts with poems by, for instance, Paul Blackburn and William Carlos Williams, definitions of poetry, et cetera. Participants were, also, asked to write poems on assigned topics- which, I confess, I never did. I don’t think I ever told Paul, but I, simply, brought in from my (growing) stockpile of unpublished work something that corresponded with that week’s assigned subject.


PRECOGNITION


Central Park, NYC

June, 1969


A little girl

in a red dress

falls down

in dandelions

laughing at

her own clumsiness…


at first

I think her an image

among images then

see she’s the whole poem


-Paul Pines (from A Furnace In The Shadows; 2018)



 

Sadly, Michael Perkins and Paul Pines have passed on. Sherry Kearns still lives in the area, her devotion to writing unabated. The body of work produced by these three important poets continues to impact the poetry community locally, and beyond.


TO BE A POET


To be a poet

is to


think free thoughts…


then,

simply,


write them down;


acts of boldness,

for which


some condemn you-


some rise,

and call you:


“Friend.”


-Richard Carella (ca. 1993)


 

Richard A. Carella

March, 2024

Hudson Falls, New York

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