to Crooked Lake:
Poems 1948-2010, with a Memoir
of Black Mountain College
Martha Rittenhouse Treichler
Preface by John Roche
Introduction by Mary Emma Harris
Including a Poem/Letter by Charles Olson
and a poem co-written by Charles Olson and Martha Rittenhouse Treichler
Martha Rittenhouse Treichler is not going to leave us without passing on some of her wisdom and age. At fifty she writes “That now I welcome every crease and pain/That age has brought, because I love the way/They worked to teach me for my richer gain.” This whole book celebrates teaching and learning as life-changing motivation and inspiration. At eighty the images are of rest and friendships, “The wood is stacked; the kettle steams,/There's a meaty breath from the soup in our bowls.” You can catch some of the joy in a long life well lived. I look forward to the next book by Martha Rittenhouse Treichler.
Alan Casline, ROOTDRINKER poet/editor/publisher
Who knows how many Martha Rittenhouse Treichlers passed through Black Mountain College (I'd usually say halls, but I've got a feeling there weren't any)? We might forget that generations before the dissent, free speech and love, and Diggers of the sixties, Artistic Freedom, Equal Rights, and Back-to-the-Land were alive and well in America. Martha Treichler's poems and essays give us a glimpse of this world, crystallized in the Forties at Black Mountain College. Even more remarkable, Martha Rittenhouse added Treichler to her name, began a family, and they all ventured down the road less traveled, teaching, writing, and organic farming all through Iowa, Colorado, and Vermont, before settling on land in New York's Southern Tier.
Stephen Lewandowski, poet
From the preface:
This book is an extraordinary document-a fine record of life at Black Mountain, and a life beyond that experience. Included are prose reminiscences of classes Martha took with Charles Olson and Edward Dahlberg, poems written for Olson's class, with helpful contextual notes, a historically significant letter, previously unpublished, from Olson to Martha, along with a poem he gave her co-authorship on. Some of Martha's own early poems are what might be called “student poems” or preliminary explorations of form, but others, like “Conversations Familial,” “Wet Leaves Don't Rustle” or “7 pm,” are remarkably mature works. Also included are poems written after leaving Black Mountain, some in recent years. I'm especially fond of the “Old Woman's Sonnets,” where she is out from Olson's shadow, or anyone's, and free to record a life-as-lived in unpretentious, object-rich language, like The night grows older and colder. I'm glad / For my book, my cup, my couch, and warm plaid.
Rochester Institute of Technology
From the Introduction:
The Black Mountain experience has been an enduring presence in the lives of Bill and Martha Treichler. Friendships with teachers such as Natasha Goldowski and her mother lasted their lifetimes. For Martha, focused-writing was set aside for years as children, homemaking, and work were all-consuming. Still she continued to write when she could. In 1988, Bill, who died in 2008, and Martha started The Crooked Lake Review, a local history journal. Although for many today it is the luminaries at the college who have captured their imagination, for the students the magic was in the integration of living and learning in the small intense, interactive community. Martha Rittenhouse Treichler recalled that she was happy every minute at Black Mountain College.
Mary Emma Harris, independent scholar,
Author of The Arts at Black Mountain College,
and Director of the Black Mountain College Project.
Recollections of Black Mountain College, from Martha Rittenhouse Treichler
I came to Black Mountain College in the Fall of 1948, and left the next June at the close of the year. Since it was a long way back to Maryland, I spent Thanksgiving at the college, along with a few other students. I enjoyed every minute of my stay at Black Mountain College, and if I had had the money, I would have stayed on indefinitely.
During his writing classes, we took turns reading our poems and sketches aloud, to be praised or scorned by the rest of the class. Olson made time for work sessions outside of class, too, when he would let us bring poems and sketches for him to evaluate. He was specific. I remember a poem where I had said, “the song of the frogs is of ecstasy”. He told me flatly that ecstasy was an over-used word, and could mean anything, and so was meaningless. He told me to slash it from my poem, but he said that he liked the phrase “streams and lanes” in the same poem, because it was a fresh use of words. He taught us that insight must precede writing, that writing is an exercise of the mind, not the hand.
At night, when we were through with our studying or partying, we had to go back to our dorms from the Studies Building on a dirt road in the dark. I usually imagined that a sleepy snake was curled up on the warm road, waiting for me to step on it, and ready to strike. So, I ran as fast as possible every night. This poem came to me on one of my runs.
Sparks your nose and ears
And twinkles on your ankles
And other bare skin,
When you run home.
The Milky Way
And in the lake.
The frost you feel
Frosts the sky
Between the glitter.
I said, “Thanks!”
As I ran home.
From Black Mountain to Crooked Lake is a 44 page hand-stitched paper book with spine - $10.00
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