In Brownsville, a Tribute to 'Drunken Poet' Daniel L. Cady | Live Culture
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

In Brownsville, a Tribute to 'Drunken Poet' Daniel L. Cady

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM

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Just about every town in Vermont has a group that keeps and celebrates its history, and many of them host periodic events centered on some minutiae of yesteryear. This week, my favorite is the West Windsor Historical Society in Brownsville.

Why? Because, along with the Mary L. Blood Memorial Library, it's putting on the First Annual Daniel L. Cady Day in Brownsville. Note the determined optimism of "first annual." Like me, you've likely never heard of Daniel Leavens Cady (pictured right), so allow me to explain why this caught my eye in the Vermont Historical Society newsletter (which in turn is my favorite source of arcane info about the state).

Cady, born in 1861, was a native Vermonter and University of Vermont graduate who practiced law in New York City for 20 years. At the age of 50, he retired to Burlington and turned his attention to writing poetry. So far so good. And boring. Until I got to this part:

"Although Cady wrote lovely pieces about his beloved state, he was seen by many residents of his former hometown as greedy, drunken and eccentric. He wouldn't donate any copies of his books to the West Windsor library, but spent $38,000 to erect a mausoleum in town, during the Great Depression, as a shrine to himself."

I don't know why I find it hilarious that the good people of modern-day West Windsor have decided to, essentially, turn lemons (an insufferably egotistical homeboy poet) into lemonade: Cady Day.

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The event includes a "living history portrayal" of the man circa 1931 by actor Adam Boyce (right), who will read some of Cady's poetry along with excerpts of personal letters and, God help us, speeches. Then audience members will be invited to share some of their favorite poems by and anecdotes about Cady. Hey, don't laugh. According to the VHS newsletter, he was once known "far and wide" for his "sentimental dialect verse" about rural Vermont, and was dubbed "the Unique Poet" of New England. I guess some guy named Robert Frost knocked him off his pedestal.

Anyway, after all that, everyone is invited to turn out for a BYO picnic across from the library at Veterans' Park. Oh, and to visit the Cady Mausoleum. Good times.

Daniel L. Cady Day kicks off at 3 p.m. this Sunday, May 19.

Photos courtesy of Vermont Historical Society.

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Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

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Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days.

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