Photo credits: Stanley Kunitz: Cheryl Richards - Tobe Carey: Meg Carey
It may seem a curious thing that there’s a connection between the Ashokan Reservoir and former Poet Laureate of the United States, the late Stanley Kunitz, but it’s true. A few years after completion of Deep Water – Building the Catskill Water System, a friend sent me an article from New York Magazine about NY City’s water system.
I completed the article and turned it over to find an article about Stanley Kunitz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Previously, I had been unaware of this major American poet. I scanned the article to discover that not only had he been born in my home town of Worcester, Massachusetts, but that he had spent a good part of his childhood in the same house that I grew up in, some thirty-five years later. I was intrigued, and began to research about Kunitz. I was amazed to learn that he had written a body of poems about Worcester and the neighborhood that I had loved as youngster. This eventually led to my producing and directing a documentary about him and his Worcester childhood in “our house,” and the poetry he wrote about growing up in a classic Worcester three-decker while exploring the same streets I played in as a child.
Eventually, my wife Meg and I were able to secure an on-camera interview with Stanley in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he read from some of his “Worcester poems” for us. This exclusive reading was the final one he gave - he died at age 100, four days after our meeting. The completed film is called “Stanley’s House,” and it won a Bronze Remi Award at the 2008 Houston International Film Festival. You can view the trailer on our web site at Willow Mixed Media.
Every year in October, the refurbished Worcester boyhood home of Stanley Kunitz is open to the public for tours and poetry readings. The house is an Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, Literary Landmark Site. This year the event is to be held on Sunday, October 7th and Monday, October 8th at 4 Woodford Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. House tours will be given at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. There will be an open mic poetry reading in the Garden at 2:30 p.m. Bring your favorite Stanley Kunitz poems to read or come to listen! I encourage poetry lovers and Kunitz fans to drop by and enjoy the festivities.
So, although the Ashokan Reservoir is about 180 miles from Worcester, there is a connection by way of my involvement in documentary projects that touch on both places.