By Earl Simpson
The Arts in the Middle festival— AIM—cancelled last year due to the pandemic— has returned to life and once again will appear at Virginia’s most beautiful venue— the Hewick plantation outside Urbanna June 5th and 6th.
A new offering for visitors will feature readings by local writers. Most readers of the Sentinel will be familiar with Mary Wakefield Buxton and Larry Chowning. Other local writers represent a wide variety of interests—psychology, drama, travel, nature, history and the nature of faith.
Bob Kunzinger offers a reading from "A Third Place: Notes in Nature," a selection of short essays about the need to be in nature so we can better be in civilization. It was written and largely takes place along the Rappahannock River. He'll also read a selection from the forthcoming memoir, "The Iron Scar: A Father and Son in Siberia."
Fictional drama abounds in Liz Young’s novel. She’ll read from The Hand in the Window, which the writer describes as a mystery-romance, set in a community very much like Middlesex County.
Stan Hovey lived in Haiti as a boy and has returned many years supporting Haiti’s reforestation and the plight of the people. He will share portions of his two Haiti-related books, entitled “Haitian Recollections” and “Haitian Returns” and “The One Haitian.” The first is a true account of Stan’s experiences in Haiti, and the second is a historical novel.
Dave Carien’s memoir, Escaping Madness: Alcoholism, Mental Illness, Murder, is real-world psychological drama. Carien agrees with Mark Twain’s that "Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy, a tragedy."
Larry Chowing, author of 11 books on local history, will read from his first published article in the January 1980 Chesapeake Bay Magazine entitled "My Big Dollar" and his most recent published article. He will also read from his books "Harvesting the Chesapeake" and "Chesapeake Legacy" and share stories behind the story on several chapters from his books. Chowning has a new book, "Chesapeake Bay Deck Boats."
Readers of the Sentinel are aware of Mary Wakefield Buxton’s “love for Middlesex County and the people who live here.” She will read from some of her 14 books, which include “A Middlesex Morning”, “Love Stories”, and “Bound for Urbanna.” Buxton may also read from her novel based on her conversations with William Styron, “The Private War of William Styron.”
According to Bessida White, recipes are the heart of a family cookbook, but the anecdotes and stories about them are its soul. A family historian for more than forty years, White has documented family and community history through the publication of several cookbooks that she says are as much memoir as recipe books. She will read some of the stories and accounts from the late 19th century through the 20th century. Her books include A Treasury of Recipes from the Cauthorne & Brooks Families.
Joan Gosier will read a selection of her poems and an excerpt that describes her family ties to the Hewick Plantation.
Don Loop, a poet favored in the Southside Sentinel, will read some of his own poems and classic poems from the past.
Earl Simpson likes to imagine a Heaven where all our differences are amicably settled. He’ll read his poem “R.E. Lee Hails Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Streets of Gold,” and a soliloquy of Arty Skidlow, the comic antihero of his epic poem, Deus X.
Time will be provided to talk with the writers and consider buying their books, which will be on sale. Readers should watch the Sentinel or our website, artsinthemiddlefestival.com for a schedule of readings in the weeks before the festival.