poetry in action

For several days now on the way to work I’ve been driving past the little white sandwich board parked on the lawn of the Richmond library, near the sidewalk. This is all it said:

Poetry in Action
Nov. 23

I realized the reading must be one of the many events planned around the Vermont Arts Council’s (much) larger statewide initiative, The Art of Action: Shaping Vermont’s Future Through Art.

I first heard about the project a little over a year ago, when there was a call-out for visual artists to apply to participate. That was around June 2008, if I recall. The finalists were announced last fall and then this past February the selections were made for the 10 artists who would receive the commissions to be part of The Art of Aciton. All of this taking place, keep in mind, against the backdrop of bank closures, the real estate market and credit crashes, and all of the other dark portents for the onset of the current recession. It was – and is – a bright, encouraging ray of hope that such an ambitious artistic vision could come to fruition at a time when much else in the world seemed to be withering.

The Art of Action is a large effort whose 100+ works have been divided into two concurrent statewide tours. One part of the exhibit opened in Rutland in mid-October and since then the two exhibits have visited Randolph, Montpelier, and Marlboro. The tour is well underway now with the current setup in Richmond, and further stops planned in South Burlington (starting on Dec. 5th), Middlebury, Barre and Winoski.

Tonight’s reading featured three local writers, expanding the creative exploration of the state’s future from the visual to the poetic arts. I didn’t have much of a chance to see the paintings before the reading began, so I’ll have to get back there and spend some time with the exhibit soon before it moves on. The poetry was outstanding, even if it more frequently spoke to past memories and experiences rather than ideas and reflections on the state’s future. In turn, Antonia Clark, Angela Patten, and Daniel Lusk shared their gifts of language in themes of home, grounding, and sense of place.

I’m not sure any one effort, however comprehensive, could hope to fully address the vast concept of “shaping Vermont’s future”. I’m hoping the Arts Council may come to the same conclusion and invite further artistic explorations of this kind, but in the meantime I’m planning on sticking around and finding ways to do that  myself as much as possible when the future gets here. It won’t be long now.

Here’s the complete Art of Action exhibit tour schedule.

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