A New Series: One Minute Reviews of
Books by Vermont Authors
Laura's column "One Minute Reviews" has appeared bi-weekly in Wilmington, Vermont's Deerfield Valley News since 2015. In April 2018, she found that no Vermont periodical consistently reviews all commercially published fiction and non-fiction by Vermont authors, so she started a series to fill that void. Published reviews from that series and some earlier reviews of local authors are listed with links to a scan of the printed copy. Reviews still in queue are listed without links until they appear in print.
Deerfield Valley News, 4/7/2022
A Special World For Young Writers and Artists
Ann Gengarelly, Tony Gengarelly, eds., Another World: Poetry & Art by Young People From The Poetry Studio. Luminare Press, 2021
The Poetry Studio, which has nurtured the talents of the young people whose work appears in this splendid anthology, flourishes at Ann and Tony Gengarelly’s property in Marlboro, Vermont. The Studio opened its doors to young people ages five through seventeen in 1995, and it has offered after-school and summer programs ever since. Tony and Ann have made the Studio a center, a gathering place where one can center down. The children enter through beautiful gardens, meet to discuss poems, and then scatter, weather permitting, among trees, flowers and ponds, to write down their thoughts in a ways that are both beautiful and evocative. If they have difficulty expressing their thoughts, they can ask Ann or Trey Wentworth, the Studio’s long-time assistant, to share a nuanced dialogue that encourages them to find their way. Similarly, they start in on their drawings and books with materials that are always at hand; when asked, Tony shows them ways of developing perspective, collage applications, or original bindings.
The result of this gentle guidance is poetry and art created by young people who have learned to look at, listen to, and love the world around them from the vantage point of a safe place. As ten-year-old Hannah Christensen’s title poem describes the Studio: “This must be another world/far from the blood and the violence/sheltered from pain and death./Poppy, scarlet chalice/can have nothing to do with our blood-stained newsprint./...and the daylilies,/tender golden trumpets/do not voice/the harsh call of war.” Samuel Garbarino, age 7, is aware of the same contrast between the Garden and the World: “Poetry is like love armies/that hold off the dark./ If poetry is locked/in a dark trap,/the world will turn black.” In the Studio, words are not dangerous or critical; they are flowers. As Erin LeBlanc (age 12) puts it, “What if every flower bloomed a word?/ What if each stalk was a sentence?/What would you hear with your eyes?”
Paging through the anthology’s poems, the reader constantly finds images whose understanding leaps off the page. For example, Ellie Friends, (age 13) asks the Little Pine she addresses: “teach me to love the stone/that blocks my path.” In the same mode, Tess Bogart (age 8) asks her Special Angel for affection and smiles, but concludes, “When I’m angry,/put a flower in my heart.” Difficulties from the “real” world receive the same careful attention as the flowers and trees in the Studio’s gardens. Frida Rosner (age 12) says “The wise man was wrong./The crack in my heart only grew./The place in between is a city of sadness,/an oasis of happy memories dissolving in a pool of my tears.” Claire Holmes (age 12) reflects, “Last November, I saw my doubt in a wolf’s body./He turned his head sharply,/eyes an icy blue/and thick, gray fur, soft like wings./Then he ducked under the trees,/tail nodding in the wind./But I still see him dawdling/in the throat of my mind.”
Much of the art displayed here complements poems. In “Siberian Elm,” by Rhys McGovern (age 16), the haiku is part of a book page in which delicately drawn trees enhance the poem. In other cases, like “Reflection,” by Maia Castro-Santos (age 12), a self-portrait illustrates the poem. Most striking in its contrast of worlds is Ella Bathory-Peeler’s title page, “Defiled by Society,” a collage of newspaper headlines of tragedies, political events, and threats, in which Ella’s title is almost lost.
Another World is beautifully illustrated with original art and photographs of young people curled up amidst flowers in the Gengarelly’s gardens, but it is a great deal more than a pretty book. It is a testimony to the talents of children who know what it is to “listen as carefully/as a deer listening/for a rustle of leaves” (Louisa Eichelberger, age 5). These children have learned to describe what they have heard and felt with confidence in their ability to create art that others will see and understand. This anthology should find a place in every public school and every public library in the regular world where fear, violence, and simple inattention obscure the quiet sounds that young people hear and care for.