Vermont is one of the "whitest" states in the nation, and tourism promoters encourage taking this to mean that the state is filled with white-haired wise elders in red-and-black checked wool jackets and jeans, varied by the addition of barn boots or flowery pocketed aprons.
This year's Brattleboro Literary Festival reminds us that there's depth and diversity way beyond the tourism imagery -- thank goodness!
Featured at the festival, which begins tonight, is poetry rooted in Russia, Spain, Latin American, and Iran. This evening's 7:30 reading kicks off the weekend with Martín Espada (sometimes called THE Latino voice of his generation) and Ilya Kaminsky (not yet as noted as he ought to be; a remarkable young Russian poet who's lived in the US much of his life but who speaks from another drama entirely).
Saturday, at 11:45, poet Niloufar Talebi brings the Iranian experience forward, thanks to The Translation Project. And the 3:15 panel "Hearts of Spain: Poetry of the Spanish Civil War" provokes fresh vision through readings by Espada and also the newly noted poet Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet!
These are my top picks from a rich weekend schedule that also includes poets Maxine Kumin and Chard deNiord, novelist/musician Madison Smartt Bell, Vermont fiction crafters Mary Gaitskill and Jeffrey Lent, and on Sunday an appearance by Jamaica Kincaid.
For a full listing of events, check the web site: www.brattleboroliteraryfestival.org
Reminder: Martín Espada reads in St. Johnsbury, through sponsorship by Kingdom Books, on Sunday October 8 at 3 p.m. at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. All events are free and open to the public. We've posted a review of Espada's new book, The Republic of Poetry, on our web site, www.KingdomBks.com .