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

Memory Vs. Imagination: Vermont Poet Enlists Both For New Book

Courtesy, Foothills Publishing
This detail is from the cover created by Glenn Wong for Vermont poet Stanford Searl's latest volume of poems, "Homage To The Lady With The Dirty Feet."

In his latest book of poems, Vermont-born writer Stanford Searl draws on muses to help mine his memories of growing up in the mill town of 1950s Ludlow.

Searl spent decades as an instructor and scholar, and has written many books, including a few books of poetry. It was recently, after reading a book on Greek archetypes and the goddess of memory that Searl found inspiration for his latest, Homage to the Lady with the Dirty Feet and other Vermont Poems.

Using his own recollections of detailed events from his childhood, Searl weaves memory and imagination together; setting his characters afoot in the house he grew up in on 100 Main Street from the Black River in Ludlow.

Searl's new book intertwines true childhood memories with imagined conversation to celebrate and bemoan the sights, smells and people in his life. The verses shine the brightest spotlight on the strong female figures who helped shape him, like his grandmother, aunts, teachers and his birth mother who suffered a schizophrenic breakdown when he was very young.

"I learned that memory and imagination were deeply connected up and offered me access both into the unconscious and into the past." — Stanford Searl

"You know, I had taught other people's poetry, like the great African-American poet Lucille Clifton and Stanley Kunitz but I always thought that someone else was a poet. Once I started writing these poems, I realized it was so integrative for me. It was the head and the heart and the spirit all kind of integrated, coming together. I knew that the poems on the page were potentially music."

Searl will read at the American Legion Club in Ludlow on Friday, June 10 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday, June 11 at the "Stories, Songs and Poetry" event at Bennington Bookshop at 7 p.m.

You can reach out toSearl to find more about other readings and the book.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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