They Did It for Love: The Day Poets Took Over the East End Arts Carriage House

Poet Lucas Hunt at East End Arts' "A Long Island Love Story" poetry reading Feb. 7.
Poet Lucas Hunt at East End Arts’ “A Long Island Love Story” poetry reading Feb. 7.

It isn’t every day that poets gather, clutching paper-clipped manuscripts and well-thumbed chapbooks, on the grounds of East End Arts in Riverhead.

But the arts school’s new Education Director, Diane Giardi, a painter, has a sweet spot for poetry and a friend in Teri Kennedy, a poet who also excels at gathering her fellow poets together for a good reading.

Teri Kennedy broke her ankle a few weeks ago, but that didn't stop her from putting on a slam-dunk of a poetry show.
Teri Kennedy broke her ankle a few weeks ago, but that didn’t stop her from putting on a slam-dunk of a poetry show.

So, last Saturday afternoon, through broken collarbones & ankles, and stiff necks from tumbling through and shoveling snow, poets from all points on Long Island met in the carriage house to share “A Long Island Love Story.”

Some interpreted the title of the day as a tribute to this island of Paumanok, the home of Walt Whitman. The men among the poets cried for passing of their grandmothers and mothers, while the women looked to nature, to Lou Reed, to comedy, to salve the bittersweet taste that comes with feeling the world deeply.

Featured poet Lucas Hunt, quoting his friend and fellow writer Simon Van Booy, perhaps said it best: “Every bond is a bond to sorrow.”

When you dare to love, he said, you prove that you are ready to face the inevitibility that you will one day lose what you love.

 

Mr. Hunt, a native of Iowa who lived for 14 years in the Springs and also in other less down-to-earth parts of the Hamptons, wrote poems while living here of getting lost in the salt marshes behind Jackson Pollock’s house. He dreamed the dreams of lovers, took voyages of love, with his pen and notebook in head, to Paris and Venice.

On Saturday, he admitted that he’d recently moved to New York City.

“Hearts are built differently there,” he said, his hair mussed, his eyes more tired than usual. His newest poems were accessible only through his thumbprints on his smartphone: poems of jaded lovers, air mattresses, small apartments and underpaid office workers.

But, like his poems from the East End, the essence of his poetry was still there:

“I like sweet sorrow,” he said. “It’s part of the poetry business.”

Mr. Hunt was followed by 14-year-old Sophia Dupuis, an East End Arts student who sang a beautiful rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Susan Dingle, the creator of the “Poetry Street” open mic series on Sunday afternoons at the Blue Duck Bakery in downtown Riverhead, braved a reading despite a broken shoulder. She hauled with her an enormous black book and read from it poems of such mirth, with such a manic frenzy, that it was a wonder she didn’t hurt her shoulder further. But she persevered.

Many of her poems had to do with Facebook: What Emily Dickenson would have thought of Facebook, or of how she is now Facebook friends with the supermarket checkout clerk because they are both grandmothers; of the madness of planting annual flowers, which live for just one season, or of the lonely lives of the pumpkins still sitting on the field in December.

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Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

5 thoughts on “They Did It for Love: The Day Poets Took Over the East End Arts Carriage House

  • February 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm
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    I was at the Poetry Reading – this is a wonderful article as was the afternoon! Thank you EEAC for yet another enticing event.

    Reply
  • February 15, 2015 at 8:08 am
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    Poetry readings in Riverhead! Never happened when I was growing up there. The first poetry reading I ever attended was in the Hamptons, in 1984. Howard Moss, longtime poetry editor of the New Yorker, was the featured poet. And if my memory isn’t playing tricks, playwright Edward Albee introduced him.

    Excellent reporting, Beth. You captured both the silly and the sublime of poetry readings. One of the poets that I’ve known (I’m thinking it may have been Billy Collins) used to say there was nothing more boring or ridiculous than a poet reading his poems aloud. But we do it anyway. And people come to hear us. Why? Do they have a higher capacity to entertain the absurd? Perhaps, but I think you’ve got it right. Poets dare to face the monster of love. They go out into the storm. Every now and then, one of them gets struck by lightening, goes home, and writes down words that will break the world’s heart and put it back together again.

    Reply
  • February 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm
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    Fabulous story Beth, wonderfully told – I felt I was right there with you. I’ll have to come to the next one!

    Reply

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