Last But Not Least: Environmental Reading

By Ma’ayan D’Antonio

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Down Home Kitchen. Photo by Ma’ayan D’Antonio

As the rain tapped on the windows of Down Home Kitchen, the inside was abuzz with excitement and chatter. Down Home Kitchen, once a book store, was a fitting location for the last event of poetry month. On the menu was a hot cup of soup with a side of fresh corn bread, green salad and a large chocolaty brownie. The diners sat around the long wooden table enjoying the family style dining.

James Crews, Julia Shipley, Sean Prentiss and Jody Gladding are environmental poets, letting the place shape them as writer and as humans.

The first to step up to read was James Crews, as he took the mic, he nervously adjusted it admitting that mics stress him out. James read poetry for his husband who is a farmer as well as poetry about the places he has been to.

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From left to right, Sean Prentiss, Jody Gladding, Julia Shipley and James Crews. Photo by Rachel Senechal

As passersby walked past, they glanced curiously through the window to see Julia Shipley thank the captivated audience for taking part in PoemCity. She was kind enough to take into account that people were still eating. She chose to read “poems that one can hear while eating.” She laughed nervously. She admitted that she “is too in love with my puns” as she read us her new poem Glass Eye Factory, with a line that reads ‘blink and you miss it’.

Sean Prentiss, charming as ever, was kind enough to thank both his students from Norwich University and VCFA for coming down to support PoemCity. “Throw the double chocolate cookies at me” he said, in truth tomatoes just wouldn’t do. Sean read from his new poetry collection, poems that mostly read as love poems to nature and his wife.

Jody Gladding was the last poet to read that night, as the rain stopped and plates emptied, she handed out the poems that she was going to read from. Her new poetry looks strange and unconventional but the reading is beautiful and ever changing. With words spread out on the page there is no right or wrong way to read it, just the will to let it take you where it may.

After all that is what poetry is all about.

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Environmental Poetry Reading with Sean Prentiss, Julia Shipley, James Crews, and Jody Gladding at Down Home Kitchen

down home kitchenJoin us on Monday, April 30, for our PoemCity finale at Down Home Kitchen in downtown Montpelier. During “Environmental Poetry,” four poets will share poetry that deals with how place affects us as humans and writers. The poems read by Jody Gladding, James Crews, Julia Shipley, and Sean Prentiss will be infused with language that evokes landscapes, people, animals, and plant life. These poems aim to bring thereader intimately into a single spot on this earth.

A delicious Down Home supper is available at this event: a cup of homemade soup (veggie, gluten-free, meat options), bread, a side salad, and scratch-made dessert for $20. All beverages extra. You can attend without buying food. 

6:30 pm | Down Home Kitchen, 100 Main Street

Jody photo (SF)

Jody Gladding

Jody Gladding’s work explores the places where language and landscape converge. Translations from Bark Beetle (2014) is her most recent poetry collection and a new book, the spiders my arms, is forthcoming. Gladding has also translated thirty books from French. Gladding directs the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center and lives in East Calais, Vermont.

Crews Author

James Crews

James Crews‘s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, among other journals, and he is a regular contributor to The London Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of two collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays (2011) and Telling My Father (2016), and is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology of LGBTQ environmental poetry, Queer Nature. Crews lives on an organic farm in Shaftsbury and teaches at Southern Vermont College and Community College of Vermont.

JuliaShipley

Julia Shipley

Julia Shipley is the author of a debut collection, The Academy of Hay (2015) which won the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her story “The Giving Tree” was selected as a notable narrative in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017. Her prose book Adam’s Mark: Writing from the Oxhouse (2014) was named a 2014 best book about New England by the Boston Globe. She is a recipient of fellowships from The Frost Place and The Studios of Key West. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Collagist, FIELD, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review online, North American Review, Orion Magazine, Poetry, Utne Reader and Verse Daily. Shipley holds an MFA from the Bennington College Writing Seminars and works as an independent journalist.

Sean Prentiss is the award-winning author of Finding Abbey: A Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave, a memoir about Edward Abbey and the search for home. Finding Abbey won the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award for History/Biography, the Utah Book Award for Nonfiction, and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Biography.

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Sean Prentiss

It was also a Vermont Book Award and Colorado Book Award finalistPrentiss is the co-author of the environmental writing textbook Environmental and Nature Writing: A Craft Guide and Anthology, the forthcoming textbook, Advanced Creative Nonfiction, and the co-editor of The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, a creative nonfiction craft anthology. Prentiss is also the series editor of the Bloomsbury Publishing Writers Guide Series. This textbook line includes a variety of forthcoming textbooks all focused on creative writing. Prentiss and his family live on a small lake in northern Vermont and he teaches at Norwich University and in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.