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Letter from the President

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind ?" Shelley asks in his poem "Ode to the West Wind.” Nutmeggers in Connecticut must certainly hope this optimistic cliche holds true, given the amount of snow that has been dumped on New England this year. One critic, however interprets the line differently, arguing that “the poet has misgivings that his poetic ability will again improve and increase, berating himself for not having his words and his poetry reach far enough.” And so, the line comes simply as a kind acceptance that life moves on and the seasons simply go as they do.

On December 14, I spent the day teaching the beautiful children at Fishers Island High School while on the other side of the state, the horror of Newtown was unfolding. It was a stunning irony for me, and I couldn’t get over the finality of it, the magnitude of the event that had broken the nation’s heart and my own. It just seemed impossible that life would ever be the same, at least for the parents. Spring
would never follow the winter of our grief. Poetry seemed pointless, but I tried to make sense of the senseless in a poem, probably more journalism than poem, as I contemplated that day. One of our board members, John Hracyk has encouraged me to post it however, in the spirit of “lest we forget,” and to keep the question on the front burner as the debate continues on gun control. So, with Shelley’s same
insecurity, I offer it, in memoriam for the children and the nation we were before that day:

Daniel, I'm Sorry When I Visited Your School

and you looked up from the computer and said,
"look what happened!" and all I said in return was,
"Yes, isn't it terrible." Daniel, I should have sat down
with you and hugged you for dear life crying, "Yes,
Daniel, I am as lost and stunned as you are.
But don't worry, we love you Daniel and you
are safe with us now." The president speaks
on behalf of "all parents," he says, when
speaking of the dead children. But what about
me, who has no children or only surrogate
children, whose heart still breaks like parents
watching the beautiful blossoms fall: She was
to have been an angel in the Christmas pageant,
He was just beginning to learn the alphabet.

Remember the big ice cream cone of India,
Daniel? India they say is the mother of religion.
They have a god for everything in India. Shiva
is the black mother who when she dances
brings destruction and the end of the world like
a horror movie your parents will not let you see.
But sadly Daniel, sadly my dear little brother,
today we have seen her dance. Go home Shiva,
go home, and take your wretched world with you.

12/15/2012


******************************************

On a different note, I can report that last night we presented a wine tasting for Poets Choice Wine
(http://williammeredithfoundation.org/william-meredith-red-wine.htmsponsored)
by Regional Physiotherapy with a screening of MARATHON to take place next week. These good folk have helped me loosen up my frozen shoulder from an old injury - wonderfully capable and caring healers. I am presently at the “fountain of youth” here in Florida for my annual tune up and wanted to wave the foundation flag a bit while I am here.

Among other projects, I am hard at work on two new publications we will be bring out this spring, including the next William Meredith Award for Poetry to be given to Lyubomir Levchev as well as Tom Kirllin’s debut first volume, UNDER THE PATATO MOON. More of these wonderful books soon. For now, warm best wishes from West Palm Beach.

Richard

 
   
 
 
 
   
 
THE WRECK OF THE THRESHER
- POETRY IN THE SCHOOLS PROGRAM
-
 
 
  In 2004, the Mystic Seaport published a wonderful festschrift book to celebrate William Meredith's 85th birthday. It is a beautiful, leather-bound volume with a broad sampling of William's poetry, archival photos from WWII, and a journal section where one might reflect on the work, or write their own poetry. We have received a number of copies of the book in a generous grant from the seaport and are making copies available to 20 high schools, colleges, and libraries in the area to continue William's legacy as well as that of 158 courageous Navy men who died serving their country in the loss of the SS Thresher submarine in 1963. Each of these twenty institutions will receive 24 copies of the book for use in the classrooom. Students may compare notes and share their thoughts in this journal in an effort to this heritage alive in the minds of future generations. One teacher at Montville High School, Mrs. Wendy Halsey, will use the books to recognize winners in a in a new program she has designed, The William Meredith Poetry Awards at Montville High School.
 
   
 
 
   
  William often said that "usefulness" was a quality he cared most about in his work - though extremely sophisticated, his poetry is accessbile and not that of an "ivory tower" poet. We feel he would be very happy to see his poems reach this next generation by this program. The following photos show recent visits to several of the schools which have received this gift. Pictured with the various administration is John Hracyk, a foundation patron who first came up with this suggested program and has contributed time, energy and resources to make it a reality.  
   
 
 
 
Richard; Donald Macrino, Principal Waterford High School; John Hracyk
 
   
 
 
 
Richard; Kathleen Sasso, Librarian, Griswold High School; John Hracyk
 
   
 
 
 
Jackie Bagwell, Secretary, Wm Meredith Foundation; Richard Harteis,
Tommy Thompson, Principal; John Hracyk
 
   
 
 
 
Richard, Tom Doherty, Headmaster at St. Bernard's High School, John Hracyk
 
   
 

Exhibitions

New Haven Free Public Library October, 2011

In 2003, William and I were honored to be part of the Avignon Arts Festival and later participated in the Marche de Poesie at St. Sulplice in Paris. There we met the extraordinary artist, Sooky Maniquant who began an art folio project including serigraphs of our work. These works were exhibited at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London in 2006.

This fall, the center welcomed translator and art critic, Marc Albert and his two daughters for a short residency to continue the translation project. Two exhibitions will result from this visit, the first to take place at the New Haven Free Public Library October 29th through November. Ms. Maniquant's work will accompany that of a fine local artist, Deborah Curtis. William was a great patron of the arts and often sponsored exhibitions for emerging talents. He wrote a brilliant series of dramatic monologs, HAZARD THE PAINTER which has inspired the foundation's continuing interest in supporting this art form. Please visit the foundation website for more info:

http://www.williammeredithfoundation.org/foundation-upcoming.htm

 
   
 
 
 
 
   
 

Alexy Von Schlippe Gallery (April 15, 2012)

The gallery is reserved for the ongoing exhibition of the Maniquant serigraphs, AFTER WILLIAM MEREDITH. We will launch a bi-lingual edition of William's poetry in French and English at the opening.

Alexy Von Schlippe Gallery ( July/November 2015)

Gallery Director, Julia Pavone has reserved all four rooms of the gallery for a special retrospective featuring all the Bulgarian painters who first showed their work (The River People) in the 2000 exhibition.The exhibition will include Bulgarian painters and sculptors who have since crossed the remarkable bridge William first established between our two countries when he served at Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress and invited Bulgarian artists to the United States for programs throughout the country. A generous grant from Jim and Mary Gibbons will enable us to return a number of works from Seattle where they were exhibited in 2006 at the Delight Hamilton Gallery to be part of this exhibition.

 
 
 
 
Stoimen Stoilov "Thresher Sailors" etching
 
   
 

PUBLICATIONS

We continue to work on the first William Meredith Award in Poetry which will be the publication of David Fisher's new and collected poems. Joanie Di Martino is preparing the manuscript for editing and Rick Williamls is preparing a cover illustration for the book.

During the April Exhibition at the Von Schlippe we plan to introduce a bilingual edition of William's poetry in French and English which has been translated by a number of translators including the former head of the French Department at Connecticut College, Prof. Nellie Murstein.

A third volume scheduled for publication is that of Edmund Skellings, Poet Laureate of Florida. Mr. Skellings produced a cd of William reading his work at the University of Florida. These two poet/pilots flew high together in poetry events when William wintered in Florida and we are pleased to be able to honor this longstanding friendship.

 
 
 
 
Ed Skelling at home, with Richard
 
 

We have applied to the Chelsea Groton Bank for a small grant to support these publications and should know in a month if we are to receive such support.

THE WILLIAM MEREDITH POETRY FESTIVAL

We have applied for funding to the National Endowment for the Arts to provide the budget for the festival and have begun contacting prospective faculty with great success. The Griffis Arts Center has been very supportive of this project, and Connecticut College has agreed to let us hold the event on campus in October 2012. If we are awarded this grant, funds can only be used after June of 2012 and so we have moved the date up till the begining of the academic year. The NEA grant is a matching grant and so the additional time will enable us to continue to achieve our budget and solicit participants as we move forward. Last year's November fundraiser did enable us to begin production of the William Meredith Award for Poetry which will be presented regardless of future funding for the festival.

 
 
 
 
 

MARATHON AT FILM FESTIVALS

This summer and fall, MARATHON has played as an official participant in an number of film festivals including the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas where it was awarded a special jury prize for excellence in film making. I attended the Twin Cities Film Festival where I presented the film as well as copies of William's poetry.

Two more festivals remain this fall, including the Gig Harbor Film Festival near Seattle which will be paying all expenses, including air fare for me and foundation treasurer, Nancy Frankel. Given the biographical nature of the film and caliber of artists and well-educated audiences one meets, these festivals are an excellent way to meet our goal of keeping William's voice alive among us. The Palm Beach International Film Festival, for example, has invited us to screen MARATHON at the Countess DHLH Theater April 5, 2012 at 6:00 as part of their outreach program during National Poetry Month.

Distribution opportunities continue to emerge as we screen the film.

 
 
 
 
Juan Williams at the Anthem Film Festival, Las Vegas
 
 
 
 
Anthem Film Festival Award Trophy
 
 
 

RIVERRUN

I'm happy to say The William Meredith Center did not sustain any frozen pipes or major problems this past winter and we were able to welcome visitor such as patrons, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Bourret (who helped a great deal in the clean up effort after hurricane Irene,) as well as Marc Albert with his daughters. We hosted working sessions with Little Red Tree Editor, Michael Linnard, and his wife Temara along with poet and volunteer copy editor, Joanie Di Martino. During a visit by Johnes Ruta, we were able to work on the foundation website and develop the exhibition for the New Haven Free Public Library.

 
 
 
 
Sarah Bouret at Riverrun
 
   
 

When we installed the new furnace last summer, it was recommended that the chimney be relined to make the new furnace more heat efficient and keep it from collapsing. We replaced that lining in June, had the wood stove checked to be sure the squirrels hadn't nested there again. There is a lot of work to be done in the garden, the gutters need to be replaced, the deck stained - always something with a house, but it is still the elegant little cottage William built. The the oil lamps burned bright when the hurricane shut us down that week. I have a bread plate that has the inscription: God Bless This House. Indeed. My continuing hope is that one day we may find funding to support to keep the center going when I pass on. We were honored that the State declared Riverrun an historic landmark and wish to preserve this beautiful spot for posterity.

This winter I will continue to investigate possible funding sources for such a transition. We are required by law to hold an annual meeting for the foundation, and I have proposed November 5th or 12th to the board of directors. This update will serve as background for that meeting as we take up new business and prepare for the coming year. Given the economy, arts foundations have not had an easy go of it this past year. But we remain optimistic for the future and extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive.

 
 
 
 
The Two Trees at Riverrun
 

 


The William Meredith Foundation, Inc.
337 Kitemaug Road
Uncasville, Ct. 06382
Email: RiverrunBooks@cs.com
Tel: 860-961-5138

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