At the alleyway next to the Arts Block last night, there sat who else but Linda McInerney, with her familiar broad smile, selling tickets for another impressive festival in her adopted hometown of Greenfield. I knew there would be surprises, and thoughtful presentations, and my mind was open as it always is when I attend one of Linda’s festivals.
We started out with a poetry reading–but this was incendiary poetry, words with real impact, words that hit hard. Paul Richmond, from Wendell, said it starkly when he read a poem about a contrast, between a little child being scared by ‘Boo!’ and his adult dread of things like Japan’s Fukishima nuclear plant spewing radiation, and environmental destruction.
“These are the things that scare me,” he said ominously. But the other poets like Ayisha Stevenson took different routes, her poem explored the inside of her boyfriend’s body in lurid detail. But the poets were just the warm up, as we had much more to see and here.
Then we switched gears, and Hildred Crill, a professor from Stockholm, took the podium with six dancers dancing behind the Arts Block’s two archways behind her. They were interpreting her poetry with their dance, and a sonic atmosphere was created by gentle strums on a guitar. Lori Holmes Clark was the choreographer on this long and dramatic piece, explaining after the show how she worked with Hildred’s nine-page poem across the Atlantic while doing the choreography.
We changed venues at 6:45, it was time for a collaboration between Deerfield beekeeper Don Conlon and musician Terry Jenoure. Drummer Bob Weiner set the tone of bees, buzzing and sonic dissonance using a variety of percussion devices, including a baby rattle that made soft animal sounds when turned over.
Terry sang, and scat sang, mimicking the buzzing of the bees, and then picked up a violin, as she draped herself in a yellow cape with the telltale black stripes. It was mesmerizing and slow, and she brought out honey to share with the audience, enticing them with crackers dipped in the golden product of the bees. Her message: Don’t mistake what’s small for little worth. Amen!
The night had more in store….but first we took a walk up to an empty storefront next to the Garden Cinema to peer into one of several holes in the glass, to a collection of old fashioned photos hanging somewhat mysteriously inside the store window. It was created by artist Amy Johnquest, who showed it to me as her husband John Williamson and I looked on.
We didn’t want to be late for the next act, which turned out to be a full-on production of a very well written play, by Emma Ayers The Water Project. But that’s coming up next.