Aquinnah library hosts poetry workshop with Donald Nitchie

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All those with an interest in discovering their inner bard should make their way to the Aquinnah library on Saturday, April 6, at 2 pm for a poetry drop-in workshop led by Chilmark poet Donald Nitchie, joined by Aquinnah poet Carole Vandal.

We will read and discuss two or more poems from classic and contemporary poets, and then use those poems as models for in-class writing exercises,” Nitchie explained. “As the poet William Matthews once said, ‘Artists have their life-drawing classes — why can’t writers have a similar kind of thing?’” Participants will then have the opportunity to share their work, though it isn’t compulsory.

We hope the outcome will be an enjoyable and hopefully educational experience. It will be an exploration of both the poem we are using as a model, and also an exploration of writing. I have found that writing in this way, using a kind of ‘challenge,’ can be a lot of fun, and I wanted to share that experience,” says Nitchie.

Vandal, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), grew up on the Island. After living and working in Minnesota for 30 years, she turned to writing poetry when she returned home in August 2015. “The writing came to me after a long meditation at West Basin Beach, on our Common Lands, the words began to flow as if my ancestors spoke to me,” Vandal shared. “I later weaved the use of my hand drum and my Native American flute into my poetry.”

Elissa Turnbull, Aquinnah library’s children’s and programming librarian, decided to offer the workshop because “Donald is an entertaining teacher and a writer of funny, accessible poems. This is a great opportunity to try something out of the ordinary, uncover a bit of your own voice, and learn from friends in your community. Donald and Carole are both accomplished poets.”

The Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshop is Saturday, April 6, 2 to 3:30 pm, at the Aquinnah library. Donald Nitchie’s poetry collection “Driving Lessons” was published by Pudding House in 2008.