Letter from the President
Greetings once again here at Riverrun as we move from one holiday
season to the next. There is a lot to be thankful for, not least
of which is the friendship you have shown throughout the year.
Nowhere was such support more evident than at our annual meeting
this past November, a time to take stock, plan for the future,
and enjoy each other's company.
Mother nature brought a number of challenges to Riverrun last
winter which we hope to avoid this year. The furnace finally
gave up the ghost, the well was struck by lightening and the
pipes froze despite being drained by a professional plumber.
Fortunately, most of the repairs were covered by insurance,
but it was difficult to welcome visitors in the middle of all
On November 11, our film MARATHON won Best Dramatic Feature
at the Los Angeles branch of the New York International Film
Festival. Last year it was selected as an official entry in
a number of festivals including Palm Beach, Swansea Bay in Wales
and Mexico where it took a bronze palm. We have been invited
to the Delray Beach Festival April 11-17 and hope to make this
the focus of a fund raising effort to identify investors for
a theatrical release of the film beginning in the Ft. Lauderdale
area. MARATHON is available on Netflix and will profit from
viewers putting it in their queue.
This fall we were invited to exhibit art work at the Lyman
Allyn Museum's exhibition, The Thrill of the Chase. The idea
is to share work from private collections that the public would
not normally see. A beautiful painting by Stoimen Stoilov represents
the foundation and in the photo below two board members, Charlie
Timberlake and his wife pat as well as Nancy Frankel were able
to view the exhibit the day after the board meeting.
It is our hope this year to pursue another initiative suggested
by William's good friend, John Hracy, i.e. production of a cd
of William reading his poetry at different venues over the years.
We'd also like to produce a documentary focusing on William's
life and career, something in the line of American Masters,
to augment the film MARATHON and will be pursuing grants to
begin that project.
In July, we launched THE REVENANT, a series of lyric elegies
for William published by Little Red Tree publishing. On December
2nd I read from this work along with Connecticut's new Poet
Laureate, Dick Allen at the Hygienic Art Gallery. Profits from
sale of the REVENANT will help endow the foundation, particularly
an exciting new initiative we hope to launch next fall, The
William Meredith Connecticut Poetry Festival. This festival
will continue the tradition of poetry as a living art form that
William encouraged throughout his long career at Connecticut
College. In the William Meredith archive at the Shain Library
there are examples Merdith's efforts on behalf of poetry. On
December 9, 1962, for example, Robert Frost read his poetry
at Connecticut College to a packed house. William invited friends
such as Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, Muriel Rukeyser,
Archibald MacLeish and many other celebrities to visit the community
and read their work. The guest book at Riverrun is a virtual
who's who of American poetry at the time. But William also brought
lesser- known poets to the campus such as June Jordan and Derek
Walcott and promoted talented students such as Gayle Jones and
Michael Collier as well who later achieved national reputations.
We envision a three day celebration of poetry combining poetry
readings, workshops, publication awards, and panel discussions
on divers topics. The festival will be a "moveable feast,"
and offer events at different venues in the community.
An exciting component of this festival will be the awarding
of two prizes in poetry, the first of which would be the William
Meredith Award for Poetry. This award would offer publication
to a poet of great talent who may be in financial need or have
not received the recognition that his or her work deserves by.
It would provide publication of a full length manuscript and
an award ceremony as part of the festival. This is an award
that has no application process, but would come to the author
unsolicited in the spirit of generosity that informed William's
interactions with the world of poetry when he judged competitions
and supported new talent. A second prize would be given in alternate
years consisting of a national competition for a first book.
The screened manuscripts would have a final selection by the
Connecticut Poet Laureate who has agreed to serve as judge.
On November 13, The Courtyard Gallery kindly sponsored a fund-raising
evening of poetry and live performance of beautiful music by
John and Barbara Metz. I am happy to say we raised enough money
to establish the first award publication which will be given
to the poet David Fisher of California. We are currently seeking
sponsorship of the poetry competition and a much more ambitious
initiative, the purchase of Riverrun as a permanent home for
the William Meredith Center for the arts. Congressman Courtney's
office has informed us that our application for a special appropriation
to build an artist residence annex to expand housing has been
attached to legislation. The political climate doesn't favor
such "earmarks," I'm afraid, but we continue efforts
with corporate, and government funding as well as private philanthropy
to make this dream a reality.
So, we are alive and well and remain optimistic despite the
financial situation in the country. We plan to work hard this
winter and look forward to new growth and rebirth this spring.
Keep well and warm and deep thanks again, for your kind support.
William Meredith Foundation