BY KATHERINE LAZARUS
BRANDON –– The Green Mountain Writers Conference came to the Brandon Inn from Monday, Aug. 2 through Friday, Aug. 6 for five days of writing, reading, workshops and journeying downtown.
“It’s lovely to be here at the Brandon Inn,” said Director Yvonne Daley, 76, of Rutland, who welcomed the group of 32 returning and new attendees for the 22 year of the conference after a year away.
Back in action after time apart, the director decided to have a smaller group this year because of COVID, and found the Brandon Inn was a great spot because “this place seemed intimate while keeping distance because of the rooms,” said Daley, who lives in Rutland with her husband, Chuck, 72. She is considering coming back to Brandon next year, as well.
One attendant, Carolyn Mitchell, 56, a published playwright from Bolton, Mass., in her 13th year with the program, was in Brandon for the first time. “It’s a cute little town with nice shops,” she said. Of the conference, she said, “it’s like writers camp. We have a tight community that is inviting and inclusive, making it like a nice vacation.”
The Green Mountain Writers Conference prides itself on giving just as much attention to new writers as well as to published writers, said Daly.
“The whole idea is to be open and supportive,” Daley explained. “Published writers are equal to attendees, many of whom have also published. Over half of the people attending will share their work, so we’ll get to hear what they’ve been up to.”
Each day there were readings held in the ballroom open to the public, featuring Daley, Elizabeth Inness-Brown, Chuck Clarino, Joan Aleshire, T. Greenwood, Justen Ahren, Verandah Porche, Patty Carpenter and Middlebury author Stephen Kiernan.
The keynote reading by Daley welcomed new friends and old with some selected poems and spoke about her love for the conference.
“We write for a purpose and to make the world a better place. You write for yourself, as we all do, but also you have a gift of words — let’s use it.”
Verandah Porche, 75, a published poet who has attended the conference since the beginning in 1977, and Patty Carpenter, 67, who joined eight years ago, used not only their gift of words in a performance on Thursday night, but also used their gift of music and togetherness, performing songs that encouraged the crowd to clap and dance. The pair have been friends for more than 50 years.
Porche and Carpenter, who are neighbors in Guilford, wrote 18 songs to one another during COVID, some of which they performed—though they also sang familiar pieces so others could join alone.
“The spirit of this conference is to put out your new wears and try things because the people here will listen,” said Porche.