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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

High Tea At A Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood

Angela Patten has published two poetry collections and teaches poetry at the University of Vermont, but this weekend at the Burlington Book Festival, she'll be reading from her first foray into non-fiction, a memoir called "High Tea at a Low Table: Stories from an Irish Childhood."

She spoke to VPR's Mitch Wertlieb about her struggles growing up in working class Dublin in the 1950's, and a terrifying incident that occurred when she was new to her job at UVM.

Patten was kidnapped on her way to work at the University of Vermont in 1984.

“Every time I would drive by Waterman building I would think about it, I still do occasionally. But it doesn’t haunt me,” she says.

Patten recounts the incredible event in detail, which occurred right after she moved to the U.S. from Ireland. At the time, she says she was incredibly homesick.

“I was just so unprepared for that complete separation. And then suddenly finding myself alone in a place where I didn’t know how to drive, I was terribly shy and self-conscious. I felt really lost,” Patten says.

She also discusses her approach to teaching poetry.

“We grew up in Dublin, and I don’t think we were unusual, being fascinated by language. I always think that poetry and writing of any kind is a matter of falling in love with the language, rather than immediately going at it from a more cerebral place. Allowing the images to affect you emotionally, the way that music does,” says Patten.

Patten will be reading from “High Tea at a Low Table: Stories from an Irish Childhood”  on Sunday, September 22nd at Phoenix Book in Burlington at part of the Burlington Book Festival.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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