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Leaf, Blossom, Fruit: Lost Orchard Blooms

April 3, 2014

Harvest time is sweet. A book of our own! Our compilation of extraordinary writers, Lost Orchard: Prose and Poetry from the Kirkland Community, was released by SUNY Press in January 2014. Since then, we’ve had some amazing once-in-a-lifetime gatherings.

Maria Theresa Stadtmueller, Jo Pitkin, Jane Summer, Nancy Avery Dafoe, and Gwynn O'Gara presenting Women's Voices Matter: A Reading from Lost Orchard at AWP on March 1, 2014

Maria Theresa Stadtmueller, Jo Pitkin, Jane Summer, Nancy Avery Dafoe, and Gwynn O’Gara presenting Women’s Voices Matter: A Reading from Lost Orchard at AWP

On March 1 (appropriately, the start of Women’s History Month), contributors Maria Stadtmueller (K’77), Gwynn O’Gara (K’73), Nancy Avery Dafoe (K’74), and Jane Summer (K’76) joined editor Jo Pitkin (K’78) at the 2014 Associated Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Seattle. This massive conference was attended by 13,000 writers. Our Kirkland group presented a reading from Lost Orchard and did a book signing hosted by SUNY Press. Our panel was one of 1,200 proposed and 550 accepted—not bad for a small women’s college that closed in 1978!

Jo Pitkin, Gwynn O'Gara, and Nancy Avery Dafoe at the SUNY Press booth for the Lost Orchard signing

Jo Pitkin, Gwynn O’Gara, and Nancy Avery Dafoe at the SUNY Press booth for the Lost Orchard signing

 

 

In addition to reading our own work at AWP, we talked about Kirkland’s innovative creative writing program and its emphasis on women’s education, something that was sorely needed in the 1970s. To our surprise, one young audience member commented in the q&a portion of our presentation that her generation craves women’s colleges like Kirkland. It was a moving experience, with more than a few attendees in tears.

 

Isabel Weinger Nielsen (K'76) reading from her story "She Might Break" at the Arlington Center for the Arts.

Isabel Weinger Nielsen (K’76) reading from her story “She Might Break” at the Arlington Center for the Arts.

 

Just weeks after AWP, Lost Orchard launched at the Arlington Center for the Arts near Boston on March 23. Isabel Weinger Nielsen (K’76), Donna French McArdle (K’76), Liz Horwitt (K’73), Alice Hildebrand (K’73), and  Jo Pitkin (K’78) shared their work with Kirkland and Hamilton alumni. Sharon Rippey, Hamilton’s Director of Alumni Relations, celebrated with us, and Jennie Morris (K’72) created a slideshow of archival photos and a woodsy stage centerpiece with fabric and branches.

Let them eat cake! Arlington Center for the Arts, March 23, 2014

Let them eat cake! Arlington Center for the Arts, 3/23/14

A magical afternoon concluded with a cake cutting by Lost Orchard‘s cover artist Linda Branch Dunn (K’77). Kirkland writers and artists—it was Senior Projects 2014. (For a video of the Arlington readings, click here.)

 

Kathryn Livingston (K'75), Constance Stellas (K'72), Sandy Stiassni (H'78), and Judy Gray Silverstein (K'78) reading an excerpt from Constance's one-act play "Building"

Kathryn Livingston (K’75), Constance Stellas (K’72), Sandy Stiassni (H’78), and Judy Gray Silverstein (K’78) reading an excerpt from Constance’s one-act play “Building”

Next, our crop of literary seeds scattered south of Boston. On March 29, Lost Orchard contributors Constance Stellas (K’72), Carol Durst-Wertheim (K’74), Susan Hartman (K’74), Kathryn Livingston (K’75), Julie Weinstein (K’75), Ilene Moskin (K’76), Stephanie Feuer (K’77), Abigail Wender (K’77), Judy Silverstein Gray (K’78),  Jo Pitkin (K’78), Amy Schiffman (K’78), and Victoria Kohn Michels (K’80) read their work in the Dweck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library.  This unprecedented reading, organized by each contributor’s class year from the 1972 Charter Class through 1980, riveted an appreciative crowd of family, friends, fans.

How poignant and rare to hear our distinct, now maturely ripened voices—together again—in such a lovely setting. Pretty thrilling for us all. (For a video of the Brooklyn readings, click here.)

 

 

 

MORE NEWS: Lost Orchard was named a finalist in the Anthology category in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

COME HEAR more Lost Orchard contributors at Reunions 2014, Cafe Opus, Hamilton College, Friday, June 6, 4 – 5pm.

by Jo Pitkin

Photos courtesy of Nancy Avery Dafoe, Judy Silverstein Gray, Jennie Morris, Isabel Weinger Nielsen, James Peltz, & Ruth P. Stevens.

Video footage of the Arlington launch was captured by Aurora and Gabriela Rippey; Brooklyn footage was captured by Jasmine Rippey. Many thanks to Ted Fondak, Hamilton College’s Educational Technologist.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas Raybeck permalink
    May 9, 2014 11:59 am

    I will buy a copy and seek signatures. Looking forward to it all.

  2. May 9, 2014 5:32 pm

    Hi Doug- if you’re on The Hill June 6-8 bring your copy of LOST ORCHARD & I’ll sign it!

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