Aud Coty pulls on leather gloves, opens the French doors into the woodshed, loads her arms with chunks of wood, walks into the sugarhouse and drops them on the woodpile by the firebox. She’s wearing a navy wool sweater many sizes too large over jeans patched on the knees. A visitor with silver hair and a young face approaches and asks, “Do you want any help?” She does.
John Kenney has stopped by with friends of longtime crew member Ross. Up from Brooklyn, he did a reading from his new book at Edson Hill Manor the previous evening. “I’ve just published my second novel; I also write for The New Yorker. Shouts and Murmurs. You may have seen the Valentine’s Day issue with my ‘Poems for Married People.’”
“You write for The New Yorker? I devour The New Yorker!” cries Coty.
“I submitted to them for ten years before they took one of my pieces.” Kenney, built like a rugby player beneath his L.L Bean field jacket, loads his arms with three times as much wood as Coty. Back and forth the two go, trying not to trip over the pile of wood scraps crowding the floor of the woodshed.
“What is your disciplined writing life like?” Coty wants to know.
“I try to get up early and write in the morning. Sometimes I write in the afternoon, too. I can write anywhere, I write every day.”
They discuss The New Yorker. “Patricia Marx is SO funny,” Kenney says.
“I almost never read the fiction, it can be dark,” says Coty.
“Me neither. I try to read the poetry, really try, but it’s often inscrutable,” he says, reaching for some extra dry wood chunks in the corner.
“And poetry is always about death. Live in wonder now because you’re going to die,” she adds.
“Haha. I already know that! Do you listen to the radio program, On Being? With poets David Whyte and John Donahue? Krista Tippetts’s interview with John is the most listened-to episode.”
“I’m Boston Irish,” he continues.
“You don’t talk Boston Irish,” Coty says.
“Give me two beers and I do,” and he rattles on without the two beers in the patter of his home people. “They all wondered why I’d ever move to New York.”
The two keep at it. “I could stack wood for six hours a day and then write the rest of the day.”
“You’d be writing while you stacked wood and stacking wood while you wrote,” chuckles Coty.
“Yes! I’m firing on all cylinders right now!”
2 thoughts on “The Talk of the Sugarhouse”
Sounds like yet another interesting moment in the sugar shed.
Wish I was there. Your blog is always the next best thing.
Thanks for the steam video: I could almost smell the boiling sap.
Well done. That unexpected, magical moment when two writers can discuss their craft . Before enlightment (poetry), chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment (poetry), chop wood and carry water.