The Northampton Arts Council is a city board and a non-profit organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Monday, November 10, 2014

POETRY READING: Corrie Williamson and Carol Edelstein




Perugia Press publishes the best new women poets in the country. Now, two Perugia Press Prize winners will read together: local poet, Carol Edelstein, whose book, The Disappearing Letters, won in 2005, and the newest 2014 winner, Corrie Williamson, who will be coming from Montana to read from her book, Sweet Husk. This reading showcases how a local nonprofit with a national reach can fulfill its tight mission by publishing books with range and variation.

Corrie Williamson is “multiple in her identities: anthropologist of imagination, archeologist of the heart, naturalist observing the world with acuity,” says Gregory Orr. Her poems move between the living and the dead, seeking connection with and through the past, often via the act of digging and excavation. In Sweet Husk, what is buried provides insight into—or, conversely, deepens the mystery of—the ways we engage with the world. The poems are full of matter, of things that matter—artifacts and animals—and build on pattern, series, and echoes, that focus on what we can make from what is broken, dead, unsung, or left behind. We see how strange and small our lives are—dwarfed by a vast landscape of both topography and time. We see how little we know about ourselves, even with dedicated cataloguing and search. Sweet Husk also concerns itself with our human place in the narrative of the earth, and this environmental theme is essential. Corrie Williamson is from Virginia, and currently lives in Helena, Montana, where she teaches English and writing at several colleges. This is her first book.

Carol Edelstein, beloved local poet, approaches familiar poetic themes—love and loss—with intuitive animation in both her Perugia Press Prize winning book, The Disappearing Letters, and her current manuscript, Past Repair. She is a wildly metaphysical talent, taking a direct view of the oblique and a slanted look at the obvious, creating a landscape with springs of great joy and also dry places where loss, wistfully remembered, is confronted and transcended. Edelstein is a poet of the first order; she can harness her innate spontaneity to produce finely wrought, imaginative poetry. Taken all together, her poetry is a song of praise, an elegy, and a celebration of humanity. For more than 25 years, Carol Edelstein has been leading writing workshops and organizing the Gallery of Readers, a local reading series. In addition to The Disappearing Letters, she is the author of The World Is Round (Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 1994).

For the Northampton community, this reading will create fans out of the skeptical. Perugia Press readings are known for standing-room-only crowds and emotional, provocative, understandable poetry. Here, a favorite local poet who also won a national book prize, together with a young, new voice will come together. Carol Edelstein has not done a reading in Northampton in more than two years, and Corrie Williamson will be launching her new book.

For 18 years, Perugia Press has been welcoming readers to poetry. Their books regularly win national book awards, and more than 500 poets from across the country submit their manuscripts to the Perugia Press Prize contest annually. Located in Northampton, MA, but with a far-reaching scope, winning poets are aged 28 to 80, come from California to the tip of Cape Cod, and write poetry that is lively, powerful, diverse, and focused. What makes Perugia Press unique is their singular focus, small and sturdy operation, and confidence that excellence comes this way: one book at a time.

The December 7th reading, book signing, and reception is free, open to the public, and accessible. It is co-sponsored by Perugia Press, Gallery of Readers, and supported in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.