The tourists are back. The Bennington Museum was almost crowded last weekend. The Old First Church is open, as is the elevator at the Monument. Downtown, Bringing You Vermont was full of customers over the 4th. The Bennington Bookshop has opened in new quarters in the Putnam building, and the Park-McCullough House in North B. now has a shop too. The Robert Frost Stone House in South Shaftsbury has also re-opened its doors. What do these places all have in common, besides attractions for visitors? They carry my Frost and Battle books – and they sell quite a few of them, in a non-Covid year. In Bennington, Vermont, I am a best-selling author. It’s always a matter of scale, isn’t it?
Once a month I’m in the business of attracting tourists to town myself. My neighbor Shannon Barsotti, Community Development Director for the Town of Bennington and supervisor of a site called Vermont Begins Here, hired me to write a little feature each month on a topic we choose together. Real estate, maple syrup, brewing and distilling, Robert Frost, the AT, public art, those have been my topics this year. I often take the pictures as well. Here’s a link to the latest post:
I wrote a review of the Museum’s Robert Frost: At Present in Vermont show for the Berkshire Edge.
I know the show well, having given editorial assistance as a volunteer, and having recorded an audio version of Curator Jamie Franklin’s 71 exhibit labels, accessible to visitors via QR codes posted beside the label texts. Audio enables visitors to look at the artwork and manuscripts on display while absorbing information about them. This is an exhibit with many stories to tell, and peering at paragraphs on a wall can’t compare with listening – if you like the voice in your ear, that is. Mine is clear and soothing in the classic male radio voice way. For some labels, I had to read some of Frost’s own poetry. I didn’t try to imitate Frost’s delivery (there are QR codes for Frost’s own renditions of his lines in some displays), but let his cadences speak for themselves. Frost had such an acute ear for word music. I did try to convey the complex rhythms produced by (as Frost conceived it) the speaking voice breaking over the beats of the meter like a wave. Here’s a sample, relating to Charles Burchfield’s visit to the Stone House in 1924:
I was in Greece last month to visit family and discovered the 3rd edition of Better English (September 2020) in bookstores. The first edition appeared in 2011. For the audio accompaniment that Phoebe and I recorded, this edition has dropped the CD in favor of a single QR code and web-hosted files. Our erratic publisher failed to inform us that the new edition had been issued, but it’s good to see not only that it’s still in print but has been brought up to date: a classic English-language learner’s enchiridion for our times. The subtitle means “(I) speak and write correct English.” The book lays out (in good Greek, thanks to my two collaborators) the particular pitfalls faced by Greeks who aspire to acquire good (no, better) English.