Poetry celebrated at the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library


By Phyl Newbeck
For The Essex Reporter

On April 5 at 1 p.m., Montpelier-based jazz and classical pianist Michael Arnowitt will help the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library celebrate National Poetry Month.  Arnowitt will talk about the musical aspects of poetry, song lyrics and literature including the similarities he hears between the works of great writers and great musicians.  The program was made possible by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council.  Nicole Thompson, Deborah Rawson’s Program Coordinator, said the library has three events planned around National Poetry Month, starting with Arnowitt’s presentation “The Music of Poetry.” 

“We don’t often think about poetry,” she said.  “The goal of this month is to get people thinking about it.”

The subject of an award-winner documentary, “Beyond Eighty-Eight Keys,” Arnowitt has performed across the United States and Europe and has five solo piano recordings.  He was the artistic director of the Vermont Millennium Music Festival, which included 24 concerts over the course of four days in September 2000.  In 1999, he was the principal organizer of a benefit concert that raised $10,000 for humanitarian aid for Balkan war refugees.  Arnowitt has performed as a soloist with a number of national and international groups including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Kiev Chamber Orchestra. In 2005 he collaborated with photographer/author Marjorie Ryerson for a book called Water Music, the royalties from which are donated to an international fund for water projects established by the United Nations.

Arnowitt has presented the Music of Poetry across the state for the last three years, mostly at libraries and art centers.  He will speak about “how poets and lyricists build momentum, tension and resolution, why a writer chooses a particular word or orders words in a certain way to create a musical rhythm for the syllables of a line, and how different types of vowel and consonant sounds are selected and emphasized to give a literary passage a unique color.”  Arnowitt will go beyond words to talk about how punctuation, sudden short lines and white space are used by poets.  As an example he used the lyrics from the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” which features long lines followed by short ones in a pacing sequence that Arnowitt considers more interesting than lines of equal length.

Arnowitt’s illustrations will run the gamut from Shakespeare and Coleridge to Poor Richard’s Almanac and a poem written by singer Carol Maillard of Sweet Honey in the Rock.  He will also include some musical numbers ranging from jazz to pop.  “Poems are innately musical,” Arnowitt said “which is why they are different from prose or a newspaper.  There is a certain lilt to them so I thought it would be interesting to look at it from a musician’s point of view.  People will get a different perspective than they would from an English professor.”  Arnowitt theorizes that sounds have meaning beyond words so another poem he uses in the presentation is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.

Arnowitt believes poetry had its origins in the spoken word and is hopeful that medium is regaining popularity. Although he still sees himself as primarily a musical performer, Arnowitt has been branching out into what he calls “the musical aspects of poetry” and has been enjoying an ongoing collaboration with the Vermont Humanities Council.  “I normally talk about music,” he said “but I’m trying to include a larger social context.”


The Informed PalettePalette

“The Informed Palette: Three personal journeys with color” is an event at the Emile A Gruppe Gallery in Jericho on April 6 from 2-4 p.m. where each artist will discuss the development of their individual palettes and how those palettes have changed and evolved over time.

The following are the topics each artist will address:

Fiona Fenwick – Using the Mason Palette and a modified winter palette.
Jane Neroni – The Plein Air palette
Julie Davis – The “restless” palette.
Governor Shumlin appoints new members to Fish & Wildlife board

Underhill resident to represent Chittenden County

Governor Peter Shumlin has appointed two new members to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board.

Cheryl E. Frank Sullivan, of Underhill, has been appointed to represent Chittenden County, replacing Edward Gallo, whose term has expired.  Cheryl is passionate about archery and muzzleloader hunting for deer and ice fishing for northern pike.  She also fishes for salmon, bowfin and bass on Lake Champlain and hunts turkey, waterfowl and upland birds.  When not pursuing outdoor activities, she enjoys riding and showing her horse.

A graduate and full-time employee at the University of Vermont, Cheryl has an M.S. in plant and soil science specializing in the biological control of insect pests and a B.S. in environmental science with a focus on conservation biology.

Johanna Laggis, of East Hardwick, has been appointed to represent Caledonia County, replacing Craig Lantagne of Lyndonville, whose term has expired.  Johanna farms with her husband and brother-in-law in East Hardwick where they milk 500 Jersey cows.  She and her family grow and raise most of their food, hunt, trap, fish, and are avid outdoor enthusiasts.

Johanna is a University of Vermont graduate with a B.S. in forestry.  She worked for the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation from 1983 to 1990 in forest resource protection.

The 14-member Fish and Wildlife Board is an advisory group of Vermont citizens that votes on fish and wildlife regulations.  Members serve for six-year terms.  They are eligible for reappointment only when they are filling a seat left vacant by a member who was unable to serve his or her full term.

“The Board plays an invaluable role in the conservation of our fish and wildlife resources in Vermont,” said Commissioner Patrick Berry.  “The thoughtful, well-informed citizens that make up the board help shape regulations from the perspective of Vermont’s hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, and conservationists who have a strong interest in the sound management of these resources. Cheryl and Johanna bring new insights and expertise to the board, and I look forward to working with them on the conservation challenges we face.”