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The Creative People at Meetinghouse.life
Meet our Poet in Residence
B. Fulton (Barb) Jennes
B. Fulton (Barb) Jennes is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, CT, where she leads intergenerational poetry workshops for children, teens, and adults through The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Ridgefield Library, the Meetinghouse, and other organizations and schools. Her poems have appeared in Comstock Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Night Heron Barks, Connecticut River Review, Tar River Poetry, the Connecticut Literary Anthology (2021 and 2020 editions), Vassar Review, Naugatuck River Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Ekphrastic Review, and many other journals and anthologies. In 2021, her poem “From the Room of an Unknown Girl” was awarded the Leslie McGrath Prize by Helix Magazine. Her chapbook Mammoth Spring was a finalist in the 2021 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. Another poetry chapbook, Blinded Bird—a collection of poems that relate the interwoven struggle of three generations of a family battling addiction and depression—will be published in spring of 2022.
Barb hails from North Greenbush, a small town near the Capital District area of New York. She received her B.A. in English (with emphasis on Creative Writing) from SUNY Albany then worked first as a corporate writer/editor for General Electric, then as a freelance copywriter whose clients included IBM, Xerox, Disney magazines, the Exposures catalog, Martha Stewart Magazine, and many others.
After volunteering to lead creative-writing workshops and edit a creative-arts newsletter for her daughter’s elementary school, Barb transitioned to a career in education, receiving her creditation through the Connecticut Department of Higher Education’s Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) program, followed by an MSEdu degree in Curriculum Design from Western Connecticut State University. She worked for 16 years as a middle-school English teacher in Brookfield and Ridgefield.
Since retiring in 2017, Barb has returned to her roots: writing poetry. She marks being accepted into and attending the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in the summer of 2019 as a major turning point in her life, introducing her to the world of poetry as a profession, not merely a passion or pastime.
Barb resides in Ridgefield with her husband, Chuck, a marketing consultant for the U.S. Green Building Council. Their daughter, Mallory, recently began a new career as an addictions counselor.
Videos of her readings are available on her youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWS-E0XjdLZicF2R25oq_QQ
Links to and copies of her poems will be available when her new website, https://bfultonjennes.com, launches in January.
Her chapbook Blinded Birds can be ordered here (March 2022 release): https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/blinded-birds-by-b-fulton-jennes/?fbclid=IwAR3qHO9i7TOq1q95jQ0WAGvR-Ynpjl61PxteqdM9_eFtqdaA-n2DjA3nBzc
by B. Fulton Jennes
The hunter made himself known at dawn—
six quick shots, a pause, then two more—
so close the shock waves hammered the glass
of the window over my head. I rose with a curse,
sure of the target: a young buck, eight-pointer,
regular sight at the periphery of our lives
this past summer, calm-eyed, curious about
the way of our world. We’d look up
and see him in the late afternoon’s oblique light
just beyond the farthest fringe of lawn.
He also visited at night, purging my gardens
of yellow daylilies and purple coneflowers,
spurning the orange impatients I’d planted as a ruse.
Alerted by instinct of hunting season’s approach,
he disappeared when only Joe Pye and rudbeckia
bloomed and the leaves began to turn.
My husband saw him just two days ago, standing
at the edge of the woods behind the house, eyes alert,
as if weighing which bore greater risk: the known
danger behind him or the unknown ones ahead.
This morning, he had his answer. And while I
mourned over coffee, alone at a cold table,
choking the urge to charge into the woods, angry
and ungroomed, to confront the shooter
whose final two shots spoke with such conceit,
I saw how the world is divided into halves—
hunter or hunted, devoured or disdained, but cloven
for a reason, like the perfect hooves of deer.
~ as published in Frost Meadow Review
GLYPHS OF A GENTLE GOING
by B. Fulton Jennes
My neighbor, a widower, vows
that his house will be
so death-cleaned on his demise
that his daughter’s only worry
will be to return the library book
laid to rest on his nightstand.
No, my dear sir, no:
you will call to her from
the charged chattel that remains.
Anguished, your heiress
will climb the threadbare stair,
touching a finger to
each frayed fiber,
searching for the weight
and friction of your foot there;
she will lie on your bed,
urgent to absorb the last calorie
of your warmth, will sniff deeply
of the book’s cover, her nose
a forensic tool, tasked to sweep
your marooned cells into her being;
she will open to the bookmarked page
to read and reread the lines where
your eyes last lingered,
imagining that she is the ink
that whispered you to sleep,
glyphs of a gentle going.
~ as published in Connecticut River Review
by B. Fulton Jennes
I haven’t laced on skates in years—
a sacrifice to waxing fears
of broken that or fractured this.
But, oh, how terribly I miss
the effortless, cerebral bliss
of skating backwards aimlessly.
I did not use my eyes to see
but, rather, rocked from side to side
and let inertia’s laws decide
my path across the icy glide.
How liberating not to brood
upon what others might conclude
about my balance, skill or grace
in crossing this communal place
but, rather, to glissade through space
as through a dream. I seemed repelled
by what was known—the world beheld
with my own eyes—and tempted toward
a destination unexplored
as if drawn by some unseen cord.
How free to skate in blind reverse
and leave will to the universe.
~ as published in Extreme Formal Poems: Contemporary Poets, ed. Beth Houston
by B. Fulton Jennes
Why switch the light on in a darkened room?
Why feed a newborn baby, wailing for life?
Why cross a bridge to some far shore where only strangers live?
Why plant flowers in the garden, knowing winter comes?
Why clean the attic of dead mice, the shells of bugs, ghosts?
Why open eyes when morning comes?
Why discover infinitesimal things, study them through microscopes?
Why plow a fallow field?
Why pluck the glass shards from an open wound?
Why pray for rain to fall on parched plains?
Why let the children laugh?
Why whisper prayers for impossible things?
Why open up the doors to spring’s fresh ways?
Why a moon at night?
Why fire at the entrance to the cave?
Why ice chips on a dying person’s tongue?
Why scuff through dew-soaked grass in shoeless feet?
Why buttercup pollen, rubbed below a chin?
Why resuscitate the drowned?
Why harvest honey from the hive?
Why run until your heart feels it will burst?
Why rock a troubled child to sleep?
Why excavate our nightmares—Tulsa, Auschwitz, Sandy Hook?
Why build a taller tower—taller yet?
Why telescopic eyes to gaze at stars?
Why sails on ships on windless days?
Why plant a tree you’ll never see bear fruit?
Why hold a mirror to a tyrant’s face?
Why open up our hearts, pour justice in?
Why say their names?
Why risk it all for beauty?
Why ears? Why eyes?
Why open up cages, let dammed water flow?
~ as published in the Jan./Feb. 2022 issue of Ridgefield Magazine
Meet Our Artists in Residence - We have more than one!
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ARTIST STATEMENT (not your typical)
When I saw that there was an artist-in-residence opportunity at The Meeting House, I almost couldn’t contain myself. Let me tell you why, I have been a lifelong Ridgefield resident. Not only that, but I have lived in the Ridgebury area for the past 30 years. I am intrigued by the rich history of the area. Ridgebury, in my own opinion, has been overlooked in the history books.
A few years ago I started compiling any and all information I could find about the area. Specifically from where the original church stood, to where the Pink House once stood. I have been doing illustrations to go along with my research of the area.
To be able to work and create in the heart of Ridgebury would be a dream come true.
I hope I get the opportunity to work in the Meeting House and try and re-create with illustrations what the area would have looked like during George Washington and Rochambeu’s visits up through the early 1900’s.
-Rori F. Shapiro
Clarice M Shirvell
Visit Clarice M Shirvell’s website
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Award-winning artist, Clarice M Shirvell, long time resident of Ridgefield, CT is well known for her accomplishments in both pen and ink drawings, and acrylic paintings inspired by nature. Her artwork has been purchased for both private and public collections and has been in over 50 solo, juried, and group shows in both museums and galleries.
A graduate of Marymount College with a degree in Studio Art and Business, the artist sketches in pen and ink and paints en plein air as a form of meditation. The artist reentered the art world, selected for the Annual Juried Art Show at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists with her pen and India ink drawing “Seated Figure”, which sold. Clarice gave a lecture as the Guild’s featured Walk and Talk Artist.
“ I feel very fortunate to be able to express myself through the visual arts. I sketch whenever I have a moment; a pad and a micron pen wherever I go. Sketching is calming and meditative and helps me see the world around me to appreciate its beauty in something that may be overlooked in a busy life.”
Clarice comes from a family of diverse artists, born in the States, of Argentine parents, her Latina heritage and values combined with her love of nature inspires her artwork.
More recently selected for the National Juried show of Women Artists, for her painting, displayed at the Slater Memorial Museum. She taught en plein air and acrylic painting and is the founder and facilitator for The Artist’s Way Study Group of Ridgefield and co-chaired the Ridgefield Guild of Artists Annual Juried show.
Her work can be seen this month at Bendheim Gallery in Greenwich, CT, at https://ccnsct.org/art-show-2020/ in Norwalk, CT opening June 3 rd, and her latest portraits will be on exhibit at Ridgefield Guild of Artists opening this Saturday 4/10/2021.
Solitude is an important factor for creativity, and therefore an artist studio is essential. My
artist process involves a lot of writing and meditating as well as prayer. I am very grateful and
excited for this opportunity as Ridgebury Congregational first Artist in Residence. I look forward
to developing an ongoing residency for local artists along with exciting new artwork for the
galleries at the Meeting House.
Feel free to contact me and schedule a studio visit, see the artwork in progress.
Clarice M Shirvell