Essex, NY--Not Just a Summer Tourist Town

In the past, I’ve not thought a lot about Essex, NY as much of a destination after Columbus Day but tonight is making me rethink that notion.

This Thursday evening finds me at the Belden Noble Memorial Library in Essex for a poetry open mic night led by Essex’s own George Davis--Rosslyn Redux author and storyteller.

There are about a dozen writers here who have braved the cold to listen and share their words. I am especially excited that my co-workers (both published author-artists) from the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA) have made the trek from Plattsburgh to swap poems with the Essex/Westport  group.

George Davis leads off with a poem titled, “Demolition Derby”—followed by Judith Moore’s “Refrigerator Blues.” Another participant shares a poem that is a work in progress which culminates in a chanting section that starts out Gregorian and ends with a Buddhist-like meditative chant.

Amy Guglielemo gives us a sneak preview of a children’s book she is working on and photographer Kathryn Cramer reads from Quintan Ana Wikswo’s “In Which the Artist Is Held for Questioning by the Virginia State Police.” Kevin Cooper of Westport shares his original poem, “Shooting the Split” which fosters a great deal of conversation about the setting (which is local) and the symbolism. Kevin comments that he “loves Split Rock but, you know, it doesn’t love me back” and it is that sort of sentiment that went into the poem. This instigates some comments about whether a rock can love you back. “If it’s a worthy object of love, it shares the generosity of love, creating love in you.” Even the ancillary discussion is poetic.

Another highlight of the evening is writer Aimee Baker’s “The Killing Field.” Aimee is working on a whole series of poems about missing women in the United States. She takes missing people newspaper reports and transforms them into poetry. When asked why she is doing this, Aimee responds, “When I was in Phoenix this girl was missing for a long time. She was beautiful. ...” There are pathos in her voice. Later on, Aimee tells me that she writes about people who she feels some kind of connection with.  She has 29 poems completed in the series and is planning on producing 50 to make a book.

Belden Noble Librarian Tom Mangano shares a favorite author with the group by reading a passage from Richard Russo’s “Straight Man.”

After George reminds folks that the library will host another poetry night again in December and goodbyes are exchanged, a few of us walk down the street to The Essex Inn. I am a bit skeptical, considering the hour, but I learn that the Inn stays open until 10 pm and is open from Thursday through Monday, even in the shoulder season.

We share three appetizers, oxtail stew, venison burger, and more--all this on a Thursday night in November in Essex, NY!

Find out more about cultural events in the Lake Champlain region by clicking through to the web site.

Kathleen Recchia has been enjoying the arts in the Adirondack for about 20 years—both as observer and participant (acting, directing, and producing). She also enjoys cross-country skiing, swimming, juggling, and hosting visitors to the area at her bed & breakfast in Jay.

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