road trip/writing retreat

I’m a writer. So every little adventure, conversation with a stranger, excursion into the unknown is part of research for some project. Bertha Rogers–one of the spunkiest, most energetic people I’ve ever met–invited me up to Treadwell, NY to read at her literary center–Bright Hill Center.

I’ve always dreamed of doing something like what Bertha does with Bright Hill Center–a community arts center of sorts–workshops & exhibits for local children (and the word ‘local’ is relative here–folks spoke of distances in terms of miles, and not blocks, of course), readings, a grant-funded humanities library, an all-around safe space for the community. Treadwell is a few miles from Dehli, and Oneonta is the closest “big” city. I’m only vaguely familiar with these names because of friends who’ve gone to the SUNY schools.

So, needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to leave the hubs and darlings for a reading and writing retreat–a four hour bus ride to take in the Appalachian landscape, contemplate the world, plot my novel, think of the afterlife, imagine our dystopian future, be a witness to rural poverty, deforestation, a whole town destroyed by a recent flood…

Storyteller Claire Beettlestone was my co-presenter. She was the charismatic, funny, engaging storyteller I always I wanted to be. (I was headed down that path, you know. But after children and endless picture books and bedtime stories, I stuck with peace and quiet of novel writing). Claire told the fascinating story of Marie Laveau of NOLA and recanted the chain gang folksong, “Another man done gone…” It went something like this:

“Another man done gone (another man done gone) He had a long chain on (he had a long chain on) They hung him from a tree (they hung him from a tree) And let his children see (and let his children see) They set the dogs on him (they set the dogs on him) They teared him limb to limb (they teared him limb to limb)…”

I know. *Chills* It was made famous by Johnny Cash, and there are versions by Odetta and Vera Hall. Claire precluded with the dire statistics of the prison industrial complex. See, research. I read my story, “The Fire In Your In Your Sky”. Spooky! Here’s a lovely photo of Bright Hill Press.

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