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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Spectrum Storyteller Mark Redmond Heads to Broadway

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Mark Redmond with Spectrum staff and clients - FILE PHOTO BY JAMES BUCK
  • File photo by James Buck
  • Mark Redmond with Spectrum staff and clients
Mark Redmond is headed to Broadway — not for good, but for a one-night solo performance in October.

This week, the longtime executive director of Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Burlington was informed that his one-man show, “So Shines a Good Deed,” was chosen from among hundreds of applications for inclusion in the 2019 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City.

The annual event, now in its 10th year, claims to be the world's largest solo-performance festival, featuring storytelling, puppetry, dance, multimedia, improv,  magic, drama and stand-up comedy. The festival will be held in October in the newly renovated Theatre Row Building on 42nd Street, in the heart of Manhattan's theater district.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Young Writers Project's 'Soundcheck' Addresses Gun Violence

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Workshop attendees, left to right:  Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Workshop attendees, left to right: Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani
The Burlington-based Young Writers Project held a special Soundcheck event last Friday to address gun violence, youth activism and school safety.

Twice postponed due to inclement weather, the event at the BCA Center consisted of a writing workshop led by slam poets and educators Rajnii Eddins and Denise Casey, as well as an open mic session.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Poet "Barber Emeritus" Amir Yasin Dead at 79

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 10:00 PM

Reuben Jackson, receiving a haircut from Amir Yasin - SUSAN NORTON
  • Susan Norton
  • Reuben Jackson, receiving a haircut from Amir Yasin
Amir Yasin has died. The Detroit barber passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully, in his sleep on March 2. He is survived by his son, Rashied Yasin of Portland, Ore., and his beloved girlfriend, Khadijah Rollins of Detroit. He was 79.

In recent years, Amir had become something of a cult figure in certain Vermont circles. Using his friend, longtime Vermont Public Radio jazz DJ Reuben Jackson, as a conduit, Amir — and Khadijah, increasingly — would post scattered thoughts and musings  via Jackson's Facebook page. Amir's often lyrical dispatches on everything from politics to race to music to the daily comings and goings at his HangTime Barber Shop in Motown inspired a devoted audience among Jackson's online friends and followers.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

'Motherland' Author Maria Hummel Reads at Rice Memorial High School

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Maria Hummel - KAREN PIKE
  • Karen Pike
  • Maria Hummel
This weekend, author Maria Hummel will give a reading from her 2014 novel Motherland as part of the centennial celebrations at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.

The book follows the newly married Liesl as she raises her absent husband's three children in the height of World War II in Nazi Germany. Liesl and her husband, Frank, are mitlaufer, "Germans who 'went along' with Nazism," according to the author's website.

While the family is perhaps safe from Nazi persecution, they must survive dwindling food supplies, Allied air strikes and one child's mysterious illness, which puts him at risk of being sent to Hadamar, a psychiatric hospital infamous for mass sterilizations and murder.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Feminism Can Speak To: Katha Pollitt and Janell Hobson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 3:46 PM

Janell Hobson (left) and Katha Pollitt
  • Janell Hobson (left) and Katha Pollitt
On Wednesday, September 27, the Middlebury College Program in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies will host award-winning columnist, author and poet Katha Pollitt in conversation with author and professor Janell Hobson for the talk "What Can Feminism Speak To?"

Pollitt has written for the Nation since 1980, and many of her columns have been compiled into three volumes:
Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism, Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture  and Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time. Her most recent book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, was published by Picador in 2015 and is a vehement argument for dispelling cultural stigma around abortion.

Hobson teaches in the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of
Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture and Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender, and a contributor to Ms. magazine.

Seven Days spoke with both Pollitt and Hobson by phone, asking some (big) questions prior to their Middlebury appearance.

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Words Out Loud, in the Middle of Nowhere

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 12:38 PM

Alison Prine reading in Old West Church - KELLEY GOULETTE
  • Kelley Goulette
  • Alison Prine reading in Old West Church
Art at the Kent is a quintessentially Vermont experience: a large, important art exhibit in the middle of nowhere. The venue is the Kent Museum, in East Calais, a historic 1830s brick and wood building owned by the State of Vermont that lies at a dirt crossroads. Driving the mostly empty rolling hills earlier this month to the opening of “Refuge,” this year’s art exhibit, I was sure I had lost my way — until I began passing lines of parked cars on both sides of the road extending half a mile from the building.

I returned on September 24 for one of three Sunday poetry readings in the related series “Words Out Loud.” These occur down the road from the Kent, at the Old West Church, and finish with wine-and-cheese receptions amid the art. Again, cars lined the road in both directions.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Frog Hollow Craft Gallery Builds a Wall of Love

Posted By on Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 3:58 PM

Visitors place notes on the "Wall of Love" at Frog Hollow - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Visitors place notes on the "Wall of Love" at Frog Hollow
On Friday night, Frog Hollow Vermont Craft Gallery in Burlington hosted an opening for its monthlong "Wall of Love" show. Conceived by gallery manager Meredith Mann, it bears a striking resemblance to the Post-it Notes piece titled "Subway Therapy" by New York artist Matthew "Levee" Chavez. That installation provided people with a chance to share their post-election feelings in public, at the 14th Street/6th Avenue station in Manhattan.

Frog Hollow director Rob Hunter shied away from the comparison. "I'm sure Chavez' work was rattling around in our subconscious when we conceived the show, but [that exhibit] was not specifically mentioned by anyone [here]," he explained. "The main goal was bringing people together out of their homes in the cold months."

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Howard Frank Mosher's Imagination of Vermont: A Tribute

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:50 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - COURTESY OF JAY CRAVEN
  • Courtesy of Jay Craven
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont writer Howard Mosher died on Sunday, January 29. Filmmaker Jay Craven worked closely with Mosher since 1985 when he optioned the story rights to his book Where the Rivers Flow North. Craven has made five films based on Mosher’s stories. He and actor Rusty DeWees, who appeared in all of Craven’s Mosher films, will appear this Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m., at the Stowe Town Hall to talk about their collaboration with Mosher. They'll also screen Where the Rivers Flow North (Friday) and A Stranger in the Kingdom (Saturday).

Like thousands of Vermonters who have been touched by Howard Mosher and his writing, I feel a deep sense of loss at the realization of life without him. No one has produced a larger body of work exploring the distinctive character and culture of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. No one has been more generous to fellow writers, taking time to chat, read their work and help them. No one was more tirelessly committed to his readers, through his cross-country sojourns in his 20-year-old Chevy Celebrity (dubbed the “loser cruiser") and his frequent signings at independent bookstores throughout New England.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Reporter's Fond Remembrance of Howard Frank Mosher, 1942-2017

Posted By on Sun, Jan 29, 2017 at 9:03 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - JAKE MOSHER
  • Jake Mosher
  • Howard Frank Mosher
I expected Howard Frank Mosher to live in a more memorable home.

I figured “the bard of the Northeast Kingdom,” as a Vermont arts organization rightly described him last week, a man who made a life writing honestly but lovingly about the region and its people, would live off a long dirt road in a house screened from passersby by a grove of trees, with views of the nearby mountains. Mosher must do his writing, I assumed, in a sun-drenched office, or maybe a small cabin on his property.

But Mosher lived in a perfectly nondescript home, alongside several others, just off the green in Irasburg. I initially drove past it when I went to interview him in the spring of 2015 because, well, how could that possibly be the home of a writer of 11 novels, four of which were adapted for films?

After he ushered me inside, I asked Mosher where he did his writing. He walked me to a dining room table that was cluttered with domestic detritus and offered a view of his back yard and his neighbors.

We sat at that table for an hour or two and, though I doubt I asked him anything that journalists hadn’t asked him dozens of times before, he eagerly answered everything I threw at him about his writing and his newest novel, God’s Kingdom. The book was set, as many of his stories were, in Kingdom Common, a thinly veiled version of the region that was Mosher’s adopted home. It was the muse that sustained him through a five-decade literary career.

But most of the stuff I remember discussing with Mosher never found its way into the subsequent story I wrote for Seven Days.

We spent a lot of time talking about two mutual passions: baseball and novels. Mosher was a die-hard Red Sox fan, and I have stayed true to my Baltimore Orioles through a dozen years of living in New England. But we managed to find common ground. I droned on for too long about my love of Thomas Wolfe’s novels. (Who the hell was I to give book recommendations to Howard Frank Mosher?) Mosher was more of a Faulkner guy, if memory serves. Then he suggested I check out a few books from the modern southern writers Ron Rash and Tom Franklin. Which, later, I dutifully did.

Once, Mosher leaned over and pulled a few papers from a briefcase that looked older than I am. I stole a glance and saw, tucked inside it, a can of Budweiser.

I drove away wishing the guy was my grandfather.

I wish I could say that Mosher was my friend, but, in truth, I only talked with him a few times after that day. I called him a couple times to pick his brain about news stories in the Northeast Kingdom. Once, he gave me a story tip.

But though they were few, those interactions had an outsize influence on me. I suspect this will be a common refrain among many people who provide testimonials in the days to come about Mosher, who died today, January 29, from cancer at the age of 74.

I’m sure they will remember, as I do, his warmth, his utter lack of pretense, his undimmed curiosity, his enthusiasm for a good yarn, his endearing cackle and, most of all, his fundamental decency.

I last spoke with Mosher in mid-November, just a few weeks before he received his terminal diagnosis.

It was the week after Donald Trump’s victory, and I had been sent to the NEK —  the one region in Vermont where many towns went red on Election Day — to talk to the Republican candidate's local supporters.

I didn't find many people to talk to, and those who did talk didn’t seem, to my ears, to have anything meaningful to say. In short, I had nothing. Desperate, I pulled into the parking lot of a long-shuttered gas station in Burke and called Mosher.

I suspect that he heard a bit of despondency in my voice. I suspect, too, that in those dizzying days, he wanted to talk through the news with someone. (Mosher was no fan of Trump.)

That phone call salvaged the entire reporting trip. Mosher’s thoughts — particularly a piercing anecdote about an instance of racism he witnessed in Irasburg only a few years ago — were pretty much the only worthwhile part of the story I filed.

It was one of those conversations that I knew would stick with me, even without the benefit of hindsight.

Mosher’s good friend and fly-fishing buddy, the Barton poet Leland Kinsey, had recently died, and Mosher had written a lovely little tribute to him. It was centered on a day he and Kinsey had spent fishing for brook trout in the Kingdom.

I told him how much I enjoyed the story.

Then I told him that I had recently taken up fly fishing and fallen in love with it. Mosher listened patiently for a few minutes as I unloaded a stream of half-baked thoughts.

I told him that, when I somehow managed to catch a trout, it seemed like a miracle I didn’t deserve. I told him that fishing had made me look at rivers differently and, therefore, made me drive more slowly on my reporting excursions across Vermont. I told him that it quieted my mind in a way nothing else ever has.

Mosher chuckled knowingly throughout. When I was done, he shared with me what he loved best about the pastime. I wish I could remember everything he said.

But one thing I will never forget: Mosher invited me to come to the Northeast Kingdom and fish some of his favorite holes with him this spring.

It didn’t seem like a throwaway offer — the man was allergic to insincerity. But, even if it was, I was determined to take him up on it.

In my head, I began rehearsing the awkward phone call I would force myself to make: “Hey, Mr. Mosher, remember in November when you said we could go fishing? Umm … can we still do that?”

I learned that he planned to release a novel in the spring and would probably have to do some publicity. Maybe I could use that as an excuse to call.

I had it all figured out. I’d wait until late April or early May. That way, I’d have a few early spring weeks to practice my casting. Baseball season would be well underway, so we’d have something to talk about besides my ineptitude at coercing trout from the water. I would bring a couple cans of Budweiser.

That he finished the novel he was working on, Points North, before he died is a gift to us all. But I’m always going to regret missing out on the chance to spend a spring day on the water with Howard Frank Mosher in his Kingdom.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Author Howard Frank Mosher in Hospice With 'Untreatable' Cancer

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 1:55 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
  • Courtesy of the Author
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher announced over the weekend that he has terminal cancer and is in hospice care.

The Irasburg resident said he was diagnosed in early December with cancer in his lungs that has spread throughout his body. Mosher, 74, said that he initially thought he was suffering from an "upper-respiratory bug that has been going around.

"In less than two months, though, I have gone from feeling pretty good to being in hospice care," he wrote on his public Facebook page on Sunday. "Our kids and grandkids have been with us, and I'm comfortable."

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