By Sarah Gibertoni, KMS student
For the past three weeks students and staff at Killington Mountain School have been adjusting to a new normal, like every other school in the country. One of the biggest changes has been that our usual communal lunches have been split up by grade and sport, into small, socially-distant “pods” in various rooms.
Fortunately, we were able to unite on the front lawn last week for a picnic and “Brown Bag Arts” performance, featuring Woodstock resident and award-winning poet Partridge Boswell, who is the author of the acclaimed poetry collection “Some Far Country” and a member of the band Los Lorca, that merges poetry and song.
On the gorgeous fall day, Boswell opened with a classic poem by Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The audience was quieted by Boswell’s smooth, folksy voice and guitar-playing. Boswell explained how Yeats wrote the poem about escaping the hustle and bustle of London for the calm of the countryside, making a connection to our own experience of living in the “sanctuary” of Vermont, with its beautiful green mountains and low Covid numbers.
Boswell then raised the question,“Why poetry now?” He once again let us think before offering his own interpretation in the form of an analogy. He told the story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch and how, at times, you are stuck in that patch and cannot see a way out. He likened Brer Rabbit’s experience to that of living through the pandemic, pointing out that the height of uncertainty is where poetry comes from.
“Unexplainable is poetry’s middle name,” stated Boswell, as he continued into another story of a young poet who received the advice to stop looking for answers to questions, reminding the crowd to “just chill out” during these stressful times.
Each of Boswell’s explanations for his songs connected in one way or another to his feelings about the pandemic.
“More poetry is being written than ever before,” he said, as people seek to make meaning out of these chaotic times. Some of my fellow students agreed, admitting that they too had begun to write poetry in the early months of the lockdown.
April Hayden, head of academics for KMS, said that she was delighted with the outcome of the first Brown Bag Arts performance, a new initiative created by the KMS English Department to bring local artists to perform (socially distantly) at the school. “I think that now more than ever it is crucial for us to find safe ways to bring positivity and a sense of togetherness to our community, especially after the many months of being isolated and apart,” said Hayden.
A sunny picnic on the front lawn could not have resonated more with students and staff at KMS. Boswell’s singing, poetry, and discussion were a perfect complement to our beautiful surroundings, reminding us to be grateful for them.