Poetry & Music at Fielder Farm


A day-long celebration of lyrical arts.


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TICKETHOLDERS: Please complete our registration form or sign up through the confirmation email you will receive once your ticket is purchased. Selection of workshops will be on a first come, first serve basis. If you do not get your first choice you will be placed in another workshop. Each ticket holder is guaranteed a workshop for each time slot.

June 11, 9:00 – 5:00
Fielder Farm, Huntington Center, Vermont

Select your choice of 4 workshops/presentations, listen to live concerts, enjoy the breathtaking surroundings of Fielder Farm.

Presenters include: Michael Arnowitt, Bill Drislane and Angela Patten, William Lee Ellis, Karin Gottshall, Laura Heaberlin, Reuben Jackson, Steven Klimowski, Neil Shepard and Tony Whedon, Pete Sutherland, Diana Whitney. See below for workshop descriptions and bios.

Performances by Toss the Feathers, Anima, and Social Band. Open mic opportunity for participants. The day ends with Readings-Recitatons-Riffs-Refreshments from 4:00 – 5:00.

Michael Arnowitt
The Music of Poetry
This presentation explores the musical aspects of poetry, song lyrics, and literature, offering a musician’s insights on the elements of sound and time in literary composition and the parallels Arnowitt hears between the creations of great writers and the music of past and present classical composers and jazz and pop songwriters. In his talk, Michael Arnowitt will speak on 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.

Pianist Michael Arnowitt is well known for his musical creativity and for his innovative jazz concert programs. He has performed jazz in Europe in clubs and concert halls in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yaroslavl, Russia; Paris, France; Budapest, Hungary; Delft and Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Düsseldorf, Germany; and in Prague, Czech Republic, where he performed at the famed Reduta Jazz Club as part of the 29th Prague International Jazz Festival. He performed in New York City in September 2006 at Hunter College in a duo concert with the tenor saxophonist John McKenna. For full biography click here.
Bill Drislane & Angela Patten
Recitations and Raimeis: Poetry Aloud
Angela Patten and Bill Drislane will recite, read and offer poems that sparkle with the sense of songs -- poems for the open air. You will hear poems from a variety of poets, in a myriad of styles and senses of humor, and a few originals from Angela and Bill. Expect them to be off-the-page, waving their hands and full of voices, and with a bit of Ráiméis (pronounced raw-maysh): Irish, to talk nonsense or to discourse in an amusing way!

Angela Patten is author of three poetry collections, In Praise of Usefulness (Wind Ridge Books), Reliquaries and Still Listening (both from Salmon Poetry, Ireland) and a prose memoir, High Tea at a Low Table: Stories from an Irish Childhood (Wind Ridge Books). Her work has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies including Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont; Cudovista Usta (Marvellous Mouth), Drustvo Apokalipsa (Slovenia); The Breath of Parted Lips Volume II; Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007 (Salmon Poetry); and The White Page/An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets (Salmon Poetry). Patten has received grants for poetry from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation. She has been Visiting Writer at Stonecoast in Ireland, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland; Stranmillis University College-Queens, Belfast, Northern Ireland; and The Frost Place, Franconia, NH. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she now lives in Burlington, VT and is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Vermont. More information.

Bill Drislane is a Vermont singer, songwriter, fiddler, guitarist, poet and performer, with a love of reciting poetry and bringing the art of spoken word to audiences of all ages. He has been the long-time fiddler and band leader of the Zillionaires, and has performed with Toss the Feathers, the Mars Rovers, Social Band, Hannah Dennison’s The Neighborhood Project, and at Bread & Puppet, The Dance Flurry and the Old Songs Music Festival. He lives in a house of music, song and poetry in Jericho with his wife Liz Thompson (choral director of Anima) and their son Will (co-composer of “Mommy Was in the Shade”). Daytimes he makes a living as an attorney in Burlington.
Bill Ellis
Poetry and Power of the Blues
This workshop will look at the rhetorical and musical elements that have made blues song such a vibrant and essential part of the America’s musical fabric for more than a century. In the workshop, we will touch on lyrical construction; rhyming and metrical schemes; use of allusion, indirect speech, double entendre, and signifying; and musical elements including pentatonic scales and treatment of so-called “blues” notes. Instruments are welcome.

Memphis roots guitarist/songwriter Bill Ellis has been hailed a “wizard on steel strings” who “recalls Ry Cooder in his prime” (Blues Revue), while AllMusic Guide writes: “Not since the late John Campbell has there been a blues talent so original.”

The son of banjo/fiddle composer Tony Ellis and the godson of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, William specializes in pre-WWII acoustic blues and gospel styles, notably the music of Reverend Gary Davis. Among William’s recordings are Conqueroo, picked by Acoustic Guitar magazine as one of 2003’s best albums, and the Jim Dickinson-produced record, God’s Tattoos, called “one of the most welcome acoustic blues albums of 2006” by the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2004, a House of Blues Radio Hour special on “New Voices of the Blues” spotlighted William, and he was winner of the 2007 Bluestar award in Australia for “Best International CD Release” by a solo artist.

More recently, his composition, “Where Would I Go,” was selected for the Music of Tennessee CD companion to the Oxford American’s annual Southern music issue, and he had two songs licensed for the Will Oldham film, Edén, directed by Woody Allen associate Elise Durant.
William has performed in nearly two dozen countries from Japan to Norway, both solo and with his father, including tours of Cuba and Belarus for the U.S. State Department as well as the New Yorker Festival with actor/musician Steve Martin. A guitar instructing alum of Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch, Ellis is a co-author with Ernie Hawkins of two instructional books on the music of Reverend Gary Davis and penned the chapter on Delta blues for the new multidisciplinary book, Defining the Delta (University of Arkansas Press).

Ellis holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree in classical guitar from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Vermont, where he is assistant professor of music at Saint Michael’s College. He records for the Yellow Dog label.
Karin Gottshall
Poetry and Music
Poetry and music have always been linked, as we see in forms ranging from the ballad to the blues--but the two are also distinct, and serve different imperatives. We will look at the differences, but we will also explore and investigate in our own writing the strategies of sound and structure shared by both art forms.

Karin Gottshall's most recent book of poetry is The River Won't Hold You
(Ohio State University Press, 2015). Her work appears widely in literary journals including Crazyhorse, FIELD, and The Gettysburg Review. Gottshall teaches poetry writing at Middlebury College and directs the New England Young Writers' Conference at Bread Loaf.
Laura Heaberlin
Music in the Words
In this workshop we will be discussing strategies for lyric writing. Where do you start? How do you keep from writing the same song again and again? We'll talk about the process of distilling free writes into complex ideas, and how shifting your lyrics from memoir to fiction paradoxically allows you to write more personally. Feel free to bring an instrument, though they are not required. All are welcome; no songwriting experience necessary.

Laura Heaberlin writes lyric-centric songs in the folk duo Cricket Blue. She has played throughout the northeast, and opened for acts such as Anaïs Mitchell, Darlingside, Brad Corrigan (Dispatch), the Stray Birds, and many others. Her songwriting explores gender and power through the use of character, and is honest, vulnerable and open-ended. Heaberlin graduated from Middlebury College in 2013 with a degree in creative writing with a focus in poetry. She's studied under poets Karin Gottshall and James Longenbach.
Reuben Jackson
Imagine the Sound
In this session, we will use an instrumental (jazz) as a vehicle for exploratory writing. The idea is not to critique the composition, but to allow ourselves to find and create the images and narrative we hear. Participants will be asked to share what they have come up with during the session-literary variations on a theme.

Reuben Jackson is the host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in journals such as The Indiana Review, Gargoyle and Ploughshares, 30 anthologies, and in a volume entitled fingering the keys (1991. Gut Punch Press). Reuben's music reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Jazz Times, Jazziz, NPR's All Things Considered, among others.
Steven Klimowski
Poetry and Music: A Symbiosis
Clarinetist Steven Klimowski studies with the famed clarinet teacher Leon Russianoff attending the Manhattan School of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Klimowski began his career playing with the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra in Toluca, Mexico. He moved to Vermont in 1980 and started teaching the clarinet and saxophone at the University of Vermont. He also teaches clarinet and classical saxophone at St. Michael's College and his private studio.

Currently, he concertizes in a solo and chamber music capacity throughout Vermont and northern New England. Klimowski plays with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s woodwind trio Raising Cane where he performs for Vermont's school children. He is principal clarinet in the Burlington Chamber Orchestra and performs regularly with the Vermont Mozart Festival and the Opera Company of Middlebury. He is very active in the new music scene and has premiered several works for solo clarinet. In 1987 he founded the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble of which he the artistic director. The VCME continues to commission and perform new music now in its twenty-third season. In 1987 and again in 1990 Mr. Klimowski was honored with an individual artist's fellowship from the Vermont Arts Council and in 2003 received its Citation of Merit.
Neil Shepard & Tony Whedon
Poetry, Music, and All That Jazz
Poet-musicians Neil Shepard and Tony Whedon demonstrate how poetry and music speak to each other through Whedon's jazz trombone and Shepard's poetry (and perhaps Shepard's piano, and Whedon's recitations), theorizing about the intricacies of poem and music selection and presentation along the way. Participants are invited to each read one of your own poems to musical accompaniment.

Neil Shepard is the author of eight books of poetry including Vermont Exit Ramps II (Green Writers Press and Sundog Poetry, 2015), Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry, 2015), (T)ravel/Un(t)ravel, This Far from the Source, I'm Here Because I Lost My Way, and the First Book Award-winning Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat, all from Mid-List Press, and the chapbook Vermont Exit Ramps (Big Table Publishing, 2012). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Arts Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute and the Frost Place. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at Johnson State College in Vermont until his retirement in 2009. He also founded the literary mazazine Green Mountain Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter century. He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at The Poets House and in the low-residency MFA writing program at Wilkes University (PA).

Tony Whedon is the author of three books and a chapbook of poetry and two collections of literary essays. His poetry, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in American Poetry Review, Harpers, Ploughshares and more than a hundred other literary magazines. Whedon’s poetry/jazz ensemble PoJazz has performed for many years at colleges and bistros in Vermont.
Pete Sutherland
Narrative Songwriting: Cinema for the Ears
I often use the vehicle of songs to tell stories that in my mind might be worthy of a film project (or mini-series?). Even with many verses, the form is still far more concise than a short story, novella or film script. And by convention, it needs to rhyme in some fashion, and certainly to catch and hold the ear. Thus every phrase, indeed every word needs to be a wise choice. I'll talk about my process, and sing a few pieces that I think hold up well.

A warm-voiced singer, songsmith and accomplished multi-instrumentalist known equally for his potent originals and his intense recreations of age-old ballads and fiery fiddle tunes, veteran Champlain Valley-bred musician Pete Sutherland has been on staff at dance and music camps and workshops coast-to-coast and is a widely-known year-round teacher and performer at home. Sutherland is a veteran of many national and international touring and recording groups including METAMORA, RHYTHM IN SHOES and IRA BERNSTEIN's TEN TOE PERCUSSION, and is a founding member of the long-running 'contradance jam band' THE CLAWFOOT STRUTTERS. His latest ensemble is the multi-generational trio PETE'S POSSE.

While his music has powered thousands of dancers from Kodiak to Costa Rica, Pete is also perhaps the only old time fiddler whose original compositions have been heard on both "Car Talk" and "Hearts of Space". A Renaissance man of the folk arts, he is also a record producer (over 80 projects), a songwriter (covered by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Nightingale and Altan) and collage artist. Pete has served as artistic director for a number of groups including the Champlain Valley Festival, and most recently for the Young Tradition VT. His latest solo recording is "Farmland: The School Songs Project".
Diana Whitney
Lyrical Explorations
Diana Whitney will lead participants through a selection of "musical" poems (some of her own and others from her favorite poets), encouraging them to listen for the music in lyric poetry. In this session, participants will also explore lyrics of some of America's great lyricists such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Dar Williams, and Suzanne Vega.

Diana Whitney's first book of poetry, Wanting It, was released in August 2014 by Harbor Mountain Press, and soon became a small-press bestseller and winner of the Rubery International Book Award in Poetry. Her personal essays and poems have appeared in many publications including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Dartmouth Alumni Review, and Numero Cinq. Diana graduated from Dartmouth College and Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and attended the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. A yoga teacher by trade, she blogs about motherhood and sexuality for The Huffington Post, runs a small yoga studio in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is the first poetry columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. www.diana-whitney.com.