As a big fan of traditions, I love an event that swings around every year about this time.
Tuesday Literary Club’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Party either lightens up the end of winter or serves as a harbinger of spring, depending on the weather. Held this year on March 11 at Bowman Hall, which is part of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango’s complex, the evening always promises a warm welcome, good food, lots of laughter, good reading material and money raised for a good cause.
And everybody’s Irish when they walk through the door.
K Redford and Christina Knickerbocker, who organized the evening, made sure the color green abounded – in the candles, dishes, garland, tablecloths ... you name it, it evoked the Emerald Isle.
The corned beef and cabbage were provided, and it may have been the best corned beef I ever tasted. Members brought the rest, and everyone, including the dessert bakers, stayed on theme. (The crème de menthe brownies were scrumptious.)
Members always come prepared with Irish sayings and toasts. Mary Thompson, who comes by her Irish honestly as a Morrissey 365 days a year, gave these toasts: “May you always have a clean shirt, a clean conscience and a guinea in your pocket.” Or “As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.”
This club is so committed to philanthropic giving that it has its own Ways and Means Committee, although it’s far more efficient and far less partisan than its counterpart in D.C. So the evening includes a book auction, with proceeds going to a preselected cause.
This year’s recipient was the Volunteers of America, which runs the Durango Community Shelter, the Southwest Safehouse and new programs to help local veterans with housing. Between the sales of books and donations for wine, the group of 20 or so raised a total of $620 for VOA. Betsy Clark and an associate member who requested she remain unmentioned handled the auction in high form. Members donated everything from Bee Atwood’s coffee table books to much loved classics and books members had read at other book clubs (because nobody can belong to just one). Books donors gave rave reviews included The Lace Reader, The Orchardist, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and To Be Sung Underwater, just in case you’re looking for a good read.
Most fun book? Pete and the Horsey Gang, written and illustrated by former Durango resident Lois Ball and donated by her daughter-in-law Kate Errett.
Happy birthday to all those Aries out there – Ardis Ellingson, Vi Kessell, David Tabar, Elena Breed, Emmett Stottlemyer, Richard Gjere, Joyce Erickson, Dottie Robinson, Greg Wiley, Mark Chambers, Bryan Hondru, Zeke Longwell, Patti Ann Rancatti, Lori Brouner, Matt Coleman, Riley Murphy, John Ogier, Lisa Raymond, Lesli Slater, Marshal Starkebaum, Cyd Peterson, Mary Pye, Dave Pye and Kim Skinner.
And many congratulations go to my esteemed colleague Dale Rodebaugh, who turns 80 on Friday – and puts his much younger cohorts to shame.
And best wishes for a great day to one of my favorite people (and cousin), Sarah Sumner.
Reading Club of Durango continued its examination of excellence in two fascinating meetings during the last month. At the home of Dot Larson, Sandra Mapel, who lobbied hard for poetry to be the theme this year, shared Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winner Mary Oliver’s life and poetry with club members.
She did something a little different, and it was really effective. She assigned poems and essays for different members to read out loud. Because poetry is meant to be read out loud, she said, adding that it’s a great way to start the day.
Mapel, who is a docent at the Durango Arts Center, also volunteered to serve as a docent at the traveling Smithsonian exhibit Journey Stories. She gave several members a tour before the meeting, so conversation alternated between our stories and the poetry.
Virtually everyone left fired up about reading more poetry.
On March 13, members gathered at the home of Linda MacCannell, where Deb Barnes set the stage for her program on the Olympics by wearing her daughter Lanny Barnes’ village uniform and credentials from the recent Sochi Olympics.
While she left no doubt her favorite Olympians are biathletes Lanny and her twin, Tracy, Barnes decided to focus on the eight-man rowing crew team from the University of Washington that, in a tremendous upset, won the gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Hitler was not pleased.)
The crew’s story is documented in the current bestseller The Boys in the Boat. In the miracle age of Google and YouTube, Barnes was able to find the newsreel footage of the race online, so members got to see the photo finish “live” as it were.
And while I’m on the subject of poetry ... (notice that smooth segue?)
When Joyce Kilmer wrote “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree,” little did he know that 100 years later, poets, both published and aspiring, from the Four Corners states, would be attempting to write another poem about trees. While their poems, which can also be about forests, nature in general or Native American themes, may not become part of the canon, they may at least be invited to read their work during an evening of poetry and music on Aug. 5 at the Southwest’s Old Growth Forests – A Conference. Poems are due by May 15, and winners will be notified by the middle of June.
The rules: Submissions may contain up to three poems, no more than 26 lines each. Poets should submit two copies as attachments to Monica Jakue Leverett at firstname.lastname@example.org with one attachment including name, contact info and the poems’ names, one with just the poems. That’s so the judges can read them without any information that might skew the results. (The email is also the contact for more information if you want to get a complete copy of the guidelines.)
The judges are Candace Nadon, an instructor in the Writing Program and English Department at Fort Lewis College, and Carol Edelstein and Robin Barber, the founders of Gallery of Readers Press.
These folks might be going out of town to some place exotic for their spring break anniversaries – Paul and Jigger Staby and Blake and Pat Chatfield.
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