Wintonbury Poetry Series

Spark your creativity, make connections, and share the gift of poetry! The P. Faith McMahon Wintonbury Library offers readings by notable poets and a warm, supportive atmosphere for sharing your own work. Everyone is welcome!

The Wintonbury Poetry Series and Open Mic is held at the McMahon Wintonbury Library on the third Thursday of the month, October – April, at 7:00 PM. Poetry writing workshops are offered in May.

Residents of Bloomfield and surrounding communities are invited to submit their poetry for consideration to appear on the library’s Poetry Sharing Page.

“Two Poets from East of the River”
Featuring Jonathan Andersen and Danielle Pieratti

Thursday, January 16, 7:00 PM
Open mic follows

Storrs poet Jonathan Andersen is the author of Augur (Red Dragonfly Press, 2018), winner of the David Martinson-Meadowhawk Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2019 Connecticut Book Award in poetry. Other books include The Burden Note (Meridian Prize, 2014), an English/Serbo-Croatian chapbook, and Stomp and Sing (Curbstone Press/Northwestern University Press, 2005). He is the editor of the anthology Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other U.S.A. (Smokestack Books, 2008). He has been a featured reader throughout the eastern United States, the United Kingdom, and Serbia, including at the Ledbury Poetry Festival, the 49th International Festival of Literature in Belgrade, and the 42nd Smederevo Poetry Autumn. His poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications. He is a professor of English at Quinnebaug Valley Community College in Danielson and Willimantic, Connecticut.

Glastonbury poet Danielle Pieratti‘s first book, Fugitives (Lost Horse Press, 2016), won the 2016 Idaho Prize and the 2017 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry. She is the author of two chapbooks: By the Dog Star, winner of the Edda Chapbook Competition for Women (Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press, 2005), and The Post, the Cage, the Palisade (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). Danielle holds an MFA from Columbia University and is working towards her PhD in English at the University of Connecticut. She currently teaches secondary English and runs regular writing workshops and retreats for teacher-writers through the Connecticut Writing Project.


“A Bloomfield Poet and a Massachusetts Poet”
Featuring James Black and Howie Faerstein

Thursday, February 20, 7:00 PM
Open mic follows

Bloomfied poet James Black is a multifaceted creative who simply loves expressing himself through poetry. Though an artist, musician, speaker and author, James simply was born for poetry as poetry was born in him. Through the pages of Laughing Mirror, Waldo and the Ramblings on Man, and Black, White and the in Between, you will find the gems he so willfully shares on his experiences, thoughts and feelings about the world around him and in him.

Howie Faerstein‘s book, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, was published in 2013 by Press 53. About it, Martin Espada said; “In the voice of Howard Faerstein we hear the voice of Whitman—the original Brooklyn poet—and the voice of Ginsberg, but above all the voice of experience. Faerstein has seen it all, and these poems are the stuff of life itself.” A second collection, Googootz and Other Poems, appeared in 2018. His work can also be found in numerous journals. Considering himself an “adjunct emeritus,” he presently volunteers as a citizenship mentor at the Center for New Americans and is Co-Poetry Editor of CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts. He lives in Florence, MA.


“A Poet/Japanese Poetry Translator and a Memorial Tribute Reading”
Featuring Patrick Donnelly and the Poetry of Jerry Howard

Thursday, March 19, 7:00 PM
Open mic follows

Patrick Donnelly is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Little-Known Operas (Four Way Books, 2019). Gregory Orr has written that “everything he writes is suffused with tenderness and intelligence, lucidity and courage.” Donnelly is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, now a center for poetry and the arts. With his spouse Stephen D. Miller, Donnelly translates classical Japanese poetry and drama. Their translations in The Wind from Vulture Peak (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013) were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Donnelly’s other awards include a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program Award, an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a 2018 Amy Clampitt Residency Award. Donnelly was 2015 – 2017 poet laureate of Northampton, MA.

Jerry Howard, who was scheduled to read, passed away suddenly on Nov. 14, 2019. He was born and raised in Hartford from a family who has been in Connecticut for 350 years. He was a graduate of Hartford High and UConn, and served in the U.S. Marines, stationed in Japan. He resided both in West Hartford and Key West and was founder of Howard Financial Corporation, an investment advisory company. He was a member of the Faxon Poets, the Key West Poetry Guild and Key West Writers Group, and his poems have appeared in their anthologies. He was the Poet of the Month in Key West each January of the last three years. In his own words, “For me poetry is a part of each day. It is like breathing and the natural sharing of yourself.” Poet Andy Weil will read a selection of Jerry’s poems.

Andy Weil is a performance poet/humorist and 2018 First Place winner of The Altrusa International Poetry Contest (CT chapter). He is the founder/facilitator of “Senior Voices-Expressing Yourself Through Poetry” workshops held in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida, and was a close friend of Jerry Howard.


“A Poet from Virginia”
Featuring John Berry

Thursday, April 16, 7:00 PM
Open mic follows

John Berry is a native Virginian living in the Shenandoah Valley. A self-taught woodworker and carpentry tradesman, he has been building ‘things’ since he was fifteen years old. In his latter years, his focus has turned to building relationships: with people, with Spirit, with the natural world, and with the poetry he has written since he was a child.  These days, John is discovering the surprising faith a poem demands: faith in the image, faith in the word, and the courage it takes to create, not from ideas, but from a fierce attention and deep listening to the world around him. His training and practice in Reiki and Energy Medicine has been essential in helping to discover this faith. John hosts a monthly spoken word event at The River House in Capon Bridge, West Virginia. He has two books of poetry published by Foothills Publishing: Medicine and, most recently in 2019, The Lawnmower Poems


Poetry Workshops by Eileen Albrizio

Instructor: Eileen Albrizio, author of the novel The Windsome Tree, and the book of poetry and short fiction The Box Under the Bed.

Thursday, May 14, 6:30-8:30 PM
Please Register

In the first of two poetry workshops, we will learn how to turn emotion into approachable, concrete verse. We will start with exploring imagery and the use of the senses to define the emotional heart of the poem. From there we will engage in exercises to make our verses concise and accessible. We will use techniques to create appropriate line and stanza breaks and incorporate the wonderful poetic devices that make poetry rich and exciting, such as metaphor, simile, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, and more. If there is time, we will also learn an exciting traditional form that uses the device of repetition as its structure. Bring writing materials, whether it’s a notebook or a laptop, as this will be a hands-on workshop in a friendly, non-judgmental environment. We will not concentrate on poetry that
you have already worked on outside the workshop. Both workshops will
concentrate on writing new material from the techniques we learn in class.

Thursday, May 21, 6:30-8:30 PM
Please Register

In the second of the two poetry workshops we will briefly reinforce some of the essentials of the first workshop, concentrating on eliminating the abstract and embracing the concrete and the essentials of “show, don’t tell.” We will then go on to explore another traditional form, the sonnet, in which we will learn the fundamentals of iambic pentameter and how to incorporate that meter into a rhyme scheme that is natural and not forced. This will also be a hands-on workshop, so bring writing materials, whether it’s a laptop or notepad, as our goal will be to write a draft of a poem that you can take home and work on and revise, using the lessons you learned in class. Sharing with each other what we’ve work on in the workshops is encouraged.