Lee writers series pairs poets and storytellers


LEE -- Different voices.

That is what David Giannini aims to gather when he curates the Writers Read line-up.

"A scarlet dusk, the lawn speckled with light./ The players are my family. With mallets and colored balls they move/ about the field. The klock of mallets and balls, someone's poison."

This is the voice of poet Cynthia Read Garner, who will present with fiction writer Jonathan Baumbach on Friday evening.

Held at the Good Purpose Gallery, Writers Read is an ongoing series of monthly readings by poets and fiction writers.

"Writers need an outlet for their work where ever they can get it, and people enjoy hearing work read out loud," said Giannini, who is a published poet in his own right.

The genesis of Writer's Read was an unexpected one, born out of an invitation from Good Purpose Gallery Coordinator Dianne Steele this summer.

Now, five months later, Giannini, taps writers from the Berkshires and beyond to present at Writers Read the fourth Friday of the month at 5:30 p.m. He tries to balance the evening by selecting one fiction writer and one poet but added, "It's really a matter of my own intuition about whom might work well with whom ever else."

The readings are free to all.

"We are literally passing the hat, my hat," Giannini said with a chuckle. Any donations are split between the two readers.

The act of reading, be it poetry or prose is often a solitary one. A person with a book, or a tablet, hunkers down with the material of their choice and sets of on a solo expedition lead by the author and their own imagination.

But a public reading, aloud, before an audience alters that experience.

Gardners' poems have been published in several poetry reviews and three Mad River Press anthologies. Her first chapbook of poems "How Will They Find Me" was published in 2012. She said she appreciates the perspective that reading her work aloud affords her as well as the audience.

"Poems come alive a little more when they are read out loud," said Gardner who is a regular at the monthly Writer's Room open mic at yBar in Pittsfield. "You can frame it a bit, talk about your process and where poem came from."

Among Jonathan Baumbach's most recent work is "Dreams of Molly," and during a recent telephone interview he recalled how a reading in the early 2000s helped inspire that book.

Baumbach said he decided to give a reading from his 1974 book "Reruns." It had been years since he had read the work, and the act of doing so aloud triggered something within him.

"I heard it anew," said Baumbach. "It was like reading someone else's work."

Shortly after that reading he began work on "Dreams of Molly," a sequel to "Reruns," with a swirling sense of loneliness:

"It was not the same. It was all the same. I was in Italy sitting at my desk in a luxuriant Villa writing the story of my invented life. I was in bed in Brooklyn dreaming I was in Italy at the Villa Mondare, which was a made-up place in any event, writing the first sentence of my fictional memoir. My wife, who was no longer my wife, who had left me years ago for greener pastures, was in the bathroom dyeing her hair (back to its original dirty blond) so that I would remember with regret what she looked like when I let her get away."

So far that reading-turned-sequel chain of events is an isolated incident for Baumbach, who has written 16 books. But he said he welcomes the possibilities that readings afford authors, from cultivating the seed of new work to simply connecting with other humans -- potential readers -- in a room.

For his part, Giannini said he hopes to continue to build an audience for Writers Read and a network for writers. It's common, he said, for both to gather for post-Writers Read conviviality at nearby Timothy's restaurant.

Carrie Saldo can be reached via her web site, www.carriesaldo.com.

What: Writers Read monthly series presents fiction writer Jonathan Baumbach and poet Cynthia Gardener

When: Friday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: 40 Main St., Lee

Admission: Free

Information: David Giannini, davidg@bcn.net


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