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In Case You Missed it ...

May 2024 Membership Meeting

President Morton Laitner called the meeting to order just after 10:30 AM. Mort reminded us of our upcoming "Moon Theme" party, date to be announced, in conjunction with the launch of Howard Camner's poetry to the Lunar Archive. He informs us that the event has been been postponed to January,

 

Mort is planning a celebration here during the month the event happens, with a moon-themed party. He's asking all of you to be on the lookout for moon-themed artifacts to display at our celebration, and ideas of how to make it a special event. 

 

Contest Director Jeff Dorn was up next. He presented Ron Feldheim with his prize for March, including the Special Merit English Shilling award. Ron was unable to attend the April meeting. Jeff also presented the award for April. 

The elections followed. Because no positions were contested, the slate could be conducted by a simple voice vote, which was unanimous.

 Finally, Jonathan Rose introduced Guest Speaker Pam Petro, who was on Zoom from Smith College, Massachusetts.

She is the author of The Long Field, a book about Wales, one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom.

Instead of reading from her book, her talk was about her new book, The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence, A Memoir.

Why she wrote it, how she wrote it, and how she found the skill and guts to write it.

She described how she grew up in Verona, New Jersey, in the center of urban sprawl as far as anyone could see. She noticed what was not  there: No part of the natural earth, or its ecosystems underneath it all, was visible. It was all paved over with roads, cloverleafs, malls. Even the parks weren't natural. She grew up looking for a connection to something that had been there before the 20th century. There was no trace of the Lenape Indians who had been there before the white settlers came, and this bothered her.

 

She went to Wales for graduate school because of a specific “word and image studies programme” that one of the universities there offered. She had actually done that as an undergrad, but had had to create that focus herself. She was in a rural area. Few houses, even fewer roads, and almost no trees. For the first time, she could climb a hill and see how the earth had formed, how the hills folded together, how rivers carved paths between them and sculpted the valleys. She could see lakes on the tops of distant hills, left behind by glaciers clawing their way out.

 

The vista taught her not just how earth had formed, but gave a sense of deep time, of the pre-human past. The human past was there, too. Stone age megaliths. Iron Age forts. Medieval churches. Everything she’d ever longed for. It was what she’d yearned for, growing up in Verona. She learned a Welsh word, “cynefin,” (pronounced, kin-EH-vin) which  describes the epiphany of feeling fully “at home” in a new land one had never seen before. She felt like Wales was more “home” to her than New Jersey had ever been. And, upon returning to Verona, she discovered New Jersey no longer even felt like home to her. She was not the same person anymore that she had been in Wales. She had lost not just Wales, but also that person she had been in Wales. And she missed that person. And that was when Pam Petro realized she just had to write her book, driven as she was by the concept of "the Presence of Absence."

These are the kinds of speakers that we have at our meetings. If you can’t be there in person, try to join us on Zoom. It was really an enthralling talk. If you were there, you know. If not...  

Then you don’t know what you’re missing.
 

October 2021 Membership Meeting

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