Friday, April 20, 2012

Enlightenment found in the near-darkness

The Valley Arts Council's Gallery@37, at 37 Elizabeth St., Derby. Patricia Villers/Register 


Sometimes it helps to be in the right place in the right time.

That's what happened to me late Friday afternoon when I stopped in the Valley Arts Council's Gallery@37 at 37 Elizabeth St., Derby to take a photo of two board members sitting in the near-darkness.
The only light was natural light coming through the storefront windows. I had written a story about the lack of electricity earlier in the day. It was dark because the arts council, which relies heavily on state funding, couldn't afford to pay the electric bill.

When I arrived, an impromptu poetry reading had just started. A teen-ager read her poems that were filled with raw emotion. In one she talked about her late mother, who died 11 years ago, and what she would have liked to tell her.
Two of the women listening to her got tears in their eyes.

She also wrote about her bout with depression, and about a relationship that didn't work out.

I found out later the talented poet was Jen Mandeville, 17, a senior at Seymour High School.

After she read her poems, several council members there discussed holding a public poetry reading. Minutes later they decided to hold the first such event at 7 p.m. May 19.

The council has put out a "call to poets" for that night.  

As we sat in the late afternoon shadows listening to Jen, one person said the young poet had truly "enlightened" those of us gathered in the gallery without lights.

And I wholeheartedly agree.

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