Jill in Ploughshares

February 25, 2008

This morning I ran into Derek Mong — who will be reading with Jeffrey McRae at WordPlay (presented by Inkberry at Papyri Books on April 12th) — at the coffee shop in Williamstown. He mentioned to me that Jill Gilbreth, Inkberry’s executive director from 8/06 through 12/07, had a story in a recent edition of Ploughshares magazine.

The story in question is called When the Stars Begin to Fall; Jill read an excerpt from it at the Eclipse Mill last year, at an Inkberry event that featured Jill alongside Andrea Barrett.

Anyway, Jill’s story is excellent. The language is rich, the characters feel real, and the arc of the story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Belated congratulations to Jill for the Ploughshares publication — and to all who enjoy really good fiction, take a moment out of your day and check this out, because it’s grand.

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WordPlay, Scriv, and poems for Jill

December 8, 2007

Tonight‘s WordPlay reading at Papyri Books — actually at the Papyri Books annex, a long railcar of a space lined with exposed brick and festooned with Christmas lights — featured three writers from Scriv, Inkberry’s MCLA student writers’ group. It was a packed-house event — once all the chairs were full, people clustered in the back, sat in the floor on the aisles, and commandeered all of the step-stools from next door to use as extra seats.

The reading was a good chance to get a sense for some of what the Scriv students are up to. All three of the readers shared really interesting work. (I think my favorite piece was the third one, a delicious little piece of speculative fiction that seemed to be set in our own universe except for the part where it was possible to record a day of one’s life and to give to someone else.)

It was also Inkberry’s chance to say thank you to Jill, who’s been our executive director since August of 2006. Linda (the president of the board) and I both spoke — which was nicely symmetrical, since I worked closely with Jill when she first came on board and Linda worked closely with her during her E.D. tenure — and each of us read a poem in her honor.

Linda read W.S. Merwin‘s Berryman, which has one of the best endings of any poem I know:

I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write

And I read Thomas’ Lux‘s “An Horatian Notion,” which is one of my very favorite poems about writing (and about creativity in general) — I’ve had it tacked up over my desk for years. I love the poem so much I’ll repost it here, beneath the extended-entry link — a few people asked for a copy, at the reading, so here ’tis.

A thousand thanks, again, to Jill, for doing an overwhelming and consuming job with so much passion and heart.

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Our first reading at the Mill

March 11, 2006

Last week’s reading was amazing. Fantastic work, read in a beautiful space, surrounded by wonderful art — exactly the kind of cross-genre collaboration I imagined when I first heard that the Eclipse Mill was going to become a reality.

Here’s what the space looked like before anyone got there:

And here’s what it looked like once it filled up:

Here’s our two readers talking before the event:

Jill read first, an excerpt from a terrific short story that brought the weird religious world of snakehandling to life.

And then Andrea read from her new novel-in-progress, set in the early 20th century in a sanitorium. It was fascinating and gripping, and predictably I want to read the whole thing now. Only trouble is, she hasn’t written it all yet.

Afterwards we had a wine and cheese reception. One of the Mill residents told me she felt our event had finally inaugurated their gallery in the way she had dreamed of, which made me really happy.