Located on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, the Chautauqua Writer’s Center celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and its annual review celebrates writers who have contributed to its reputation, success, and creativity with a “moveable feast” in five sections: The Life in Art, Private Lives in Public Life, Our National Life, The Life of the Spirit, and Life Lessons – 360 plus pages of writing by such dependable greats as Dinty Moore, Carl Dennis, Susan Kinsolving, Alan Michael Parker, Ann Pancake, Maura Stanton, Laura Kasischke, Jim Daniels, Robin Becker, Carol Frost, Lee Gutkind, Diane Hume George, and many more.
It could take another 20 years to make your way through this impressive volume. If you don’t have 20 years, I’d suggest you don’t miss Jane McCafferty’s short essay on insomnia, “Welcome to the Demon”; Robert Cording’s poem, “Ossuary, Mt. Athos”; Jan Beatty’s poem, “Procession”; poems by Margaret Gibson and Mary Gilleland; and Alice B. Fogel’s meditation on poetry, adapted from a lecture given at Chautauqua in 1999, “How to Live: Poetry, Mystery, & The Holy Silence.” Fogel asks: “How could we live without crossing the infinite, infinitesimal, invisible bridges to the holy right here, every remaining day, everywhere, around us?” This issue of Chautauqua may not, in fact, be holy, but it just might give you a reason to keep reading. And for those of us who think reading is right up there next to breathing in terms of survival, you’ll be grateful for the burst of fresh air.