The next morning, on January 19, 2019 we were flying along, leaving Brooklyn, on the first leg of our reading road tour, headed for D.C. to our next reading at the In Your Ear Poetry Reading Series. Along the way we chatted as we motored above bodies of water on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge over Lower New York Bay. (MO)
In the morning, my son Michah met Maureen and me to help us load the car and to shoot a few photos. As we drove, we talked about our families, losses, our archives, me-too, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey. After crossing several rivers, we started talking about experiences with rape, Maureen fighting off attackers, me once trapped and then another time running. As we passed through New Jersey, the landscape was rather desolate in a winter dry way. I looked up and a flock of geese passed overhead. Maybe they were heading south, like us. (Barb)
We stayed with the wonderfully Irish poet and story writer, Terence Winch and his wife, Susan Campbell, in Silver Springs, Maryland. Susan is a painter and has done numerous book covers. Among them a gorgeously mysterious cover for Terence’s title, “Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor” and an entire book on the poet, Doug Lang. Inside the stunning cover the pages run wild with collage, text, paintings, quotes, and photographs. Our accommodations in their house were spectacular including a sudden appearance of Beckett staring down from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. (MO)
I had corresponded with Terence before about a story he wrote that I always loved, “Night Shift.” What a delight to meet him in person. Both Terence and Susan were warm and welcoming and both great storytellers.
The mess of travelling, coupled with exhaustion, sometimes created chaos and confusion. Tired of driving and fumbling around with some things, I got out of the car at Terence’s house and said to Maureen, “I guess we should lock the door.” Then we went into the house and met everyone. As we were all getting ready to go out to the car to bring things in, I looked at my bag, no keys. “Oh shit I locked the keys in the car.” We laughed and called Geiko for road service. We talked for an hour and then the guy from Geiko was spotted on the driveway, walking around the car with a yellow stick. He opened a passenger door. I go out to give him the tip we had promised if he would come quickly. And he said, “I don’t understand what the problem is. All the doors were unlocked!” (Barb)
Susan and Maureen at dinner on the 19th; photo by Barbara:
Our reading took place on Sunday, January 20th, 3 p.m. Terence and Erika Howsare read with us and the evening soared.
Terence’s first poem was about his mother. Earlier in the kitchen, he talked about how his mother had died when he was 16 and his father when Terence was 27. Those losses reverberate in his light-hearted poems. He often pokes fun at himself in a light poetic way. While he was reading a poem, entitled “Poor Country” about a virus that we think shut down the hospitals, suddenly a bunch of noisy theater people drifted through our space to use the bathroom. Terence stopped reading and said, “It’s all the fault of the people on the bathroom line.” And then everyone laughed.
It was a special audience of poets and friends. Some of those who we knew and now recall were: K. Lorraine Graham, Constance McKenna, Doug Lang, Heather Grant, Rod Smith, Simon Schuchat, David Beaudouin, Bevil Townsend, and Indran Amirthanayagam
All below photos by Barbara and Maureen– first, the four readers: Erica Howsare, Terence and us.
Below: Terence reading; Heather Grant, Bernard Welt, Constance McKenna, Terence; Simon Schuchat, Maureen; Barbara, Rod Smith, Simon; Chris Mason & David Beaudouin
After a bite to eat we went to Petworth Citizens where Terence played the accordion and his son Michael played fiddle in an Irish Sessions music gala. We all felt like dancing the Irish jig. MO
It was exhilarating to hear, Terence, his son Michael and others play impromptu Irish music in a session at a long table of musicians in the bar. At one point, I called Mookie on facetime so he could see and hear them. I took a few shots of Terence playing the box and his son on the fiddle. When I sent him a copy of the below photo, he wrote back, “Thanks for the photo. Playing music with Michael–my favorite thing to do in life.” One story he told at the kitchen table was about playing music in the White House when Clinton was president; this took place after Clinton had resolved some conflict in Ireland. (Barb)
The next morning: Terence taped us each reading a poem for his “Best American Poetry Blog.” Maureen read a poem dedicated to Ed Friedman and Barbara read “Here We Are” from A Day Like Today. Check out the post at https://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2019/01/maureen-owen-barbara-henning-on-the-road-terence-winch.html
We left DC in howling winds and unseasonable biting cold after Terence made an incredible Irish breakfast of scrambled eggs, beacon, crusty, buttery toast and much tea and coffee. Delicious! (MO)
As we were getting ready to leave, I put one arm in my coat and tried to zip it up that way. Susan was laughing hysterically. “We should photograph you like that,” she said. Outside the weather was bitter bitter cold. So cold that while we put things in the car, my fingers were frozen red. (Barb)
The winds continued on our drive to Raleigh NC and the cold pursued us. But all the piney forest along the road was green. A road side sign said, “Believe You Can,” to my amazement.
Through Haw River.
The Sam Hunt Freeway.
I remember the land starting to slope and the freeways beginning to curve. The low scrubby winter trees and grass started turning into taller brown trees, and finally into pine trees. Once as we were driving through the pines, I looked ahead up a hill, the sun overhead (we were going south), and all the cars coming our way were gleaming.
While driving, we talked a lot about our past relationships, happy to presently be living alone. We told stories about the people we had met at the reading, food, politics. We had a long conversation about the books we read when we were young. I read a lot of Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and all the books on the shelves in the school library. What Maureen loved reading when she was very young was Albert Payson Terhune’s stories about collies; later she liked reading Carson McCullers, Dostoevsky, Louisa May Alcott, Eudora Welty’s short stories, and so many others. Both of our mothers took us frequently to the public libraries. We both remember the excitement of coming home carrying big stacks of books to be read. (Barb)
On the 22nd, we woke up in Raleigh NC in a Doubletree Hilton, a special deal these first three hotels on Maureen’s AAA membership. We did our yoga practices (I’m teaching Maureen). Then we piled our many bags into our car and started driving another 300 mile stretch. As we drove along, I asked Maureen how she got involved in writing poetry. She said when she was young, she was up in the family attic and found an Irish songbook with rhyming verses. She remembers becoming excited and later at 8 or 9 writing an epic poem about the life of a blue butterfly. (Barb)
After a mistaken turnoff, we took business 85 for a while. I remember passing by a Giant Peach with the name, Gaffney on it. I think they grow peaches here, I said. Later I google and discover that Gaffney is in Cherokee County, South Carolina and is known as “The Peach Capital of South Carolina. But only .45% Native Americans live there.
Up early in Raleigh for yoga and buckwheat breakfast, then on our way to South Carolina. The geography begins to roll into curving hills and the road waves up and down.
The pines stay green and the weather begins to thaw. Tonight we cook our dinner in the tradition of traveling Hindu women in the bathroom of our hotel room. Barbara has brought all the spices and tiny pots along. MO