Frost, History, and Fabulation

I. The (new and improved) third edition of Robert Frost in Bennington County is out. The first edition was my foray into local history, at least between covers (I’d published a piece on Mark Twain’s 1871 visit to Bennington in the Bennington Banner in 1985). It took me three editions, but I think I’ve finally got it where I want it. “At Present in Vermont,” the excellent 2021 Frost exhibit at the Bennington Museum, as well as my own research into Frost’s involvement in the early years of Bennington College, helped. I was also able to incorporate my research onto the background of Frost’s “To a Young Wretch” and reproduce two woodcuts by J.J. Lankes. As ever, I’ve depended on the skills of graphic designer Leslie Noyes (with whom I first worked in 1985 on a catalogue for the Bennington July Program) to put words and images into an attractive package, now 32 pages long.

II. The Bennington Museum is a favorite subject for my occasional pieces. The exhibitions are consistently of a high caliber. The recent one called “A History of Bennington” was provocative in the best way. I published about it for “Vermont Begins Here,” VT Digger, and the Berkshire Edge:

III. I recently wrote about a new trail up to a new lookout on Mt. Anthony.

I climbed all the way to the summit of the mountain for the first time, too. No view from the top, but a new lookout is planned even higher than the recently cleared and very fine one off Zaphod’s Run. 

IV. I just refreshed my old Bennington County town portraits for the SWVT Chamber’s Shires Area Guide. That was an early Voice and Word project and enabled me to get to know every town in this county, from Readsboro to Peru. I got to write sentences like “The store still carries the coarse-grained polenta favored by those hardy Italians” (the ones who came to work in Readsboro a century or so ago).

V. Lastly, I’m writing monologues for “Voices of the Fallen,” a sequel, at least in kind, to “Voices from the Grave,” the cemetery show that I and others put on two years ago in Old Bennington. Ingrid Madelyne is once again directing and co-writing. There are ten monologues, by nine men and one woman, who reads (in translation) from an actual letter from a Brunswick (German) soldier’s wife that was taken from his body at the Battle of Bennington and preserved at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Lion Miles quoted from it in his 1981 Battle Day address. The challenge is going to be to find actors (for one thing). Performances are only two months away (Aug. 5-6 at the Battlefield). The ten pieces from the Battle’s diverse cast of characters fit like a puzzle and tell the whole story (so to speak) of the Battle. Four men die instantly, five others of their wounds, so they learn the outcome before they die. Perhaps “puzzle” isn’t the right word, because it suggests 2-D pieces, and here we’re offering what strikes me as pieces in 3D (or 4). Don’t miss it.

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