In the late 60s, we landed in the sticks a stone’s throw from each other.
Dreams, troubles, changes, crops, communards, kids and lovers:
music and language saw us through our duet of abundance and loss.
We took a guitar, the kids, and a pencil with an eraser down to the river.
We’ve carved these songs out of our long friendship. As traveling artists,
musician and poet, we have played the hinterlands, listened to stories and savored cadences. Finally, we took the time to write and hone this work. Our songs are deeply collaborative: some of the best music comes from Verandah and the strongest words, from Patty, except when it’s the other way around.
Patty Carpenter grew up playing the piano during the 1950s in Rochester, N.Y. She often drove her grandfather to senior citizen homes where she got her first taste of performing, playing the piano and singing old standards. She also listened to folk, (and played bottleneck guitar at local coffeehouses) rock and jazz, with Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae among her favorite singers.
At the University of Massachusetts she studied in the jazz program under such master musicians and teachers as Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Billy Taylor and Reggie Workman. It was Workman who advised, "if you want to sing the music, learn the history."
She took that to heart and has played on lovely stages and in muddy fields and everywhere in between. She divides her time these days between Vermont, Brooklyn and Portland, Maine. Carpenter plays in jazz combos, rock bands such as Patty & the Cakes, and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band (DFJB) which features a jazz inflected spicy Americana musical gumbo. The group includes her daughter, son and ex.
Verandah Porche works as a poet-in-residence, performer and writing partner. Based in rural Vermont on the notable commune Total Loss Farm, since 1968, she has published Sudden Eden (Verdant Books), The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books).
Verandah developed a practice called ‘told poetry’ or ‘shared narrative’ to create personal literature with people who need a writing partner. She has run collaborative residencies in hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern and an urban working class neighborhood. Listening Out Loud documents her residency with Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT.
Verandah began working as a poet in the schools in the 1970s. She initiated—and for almost 30 years taught—the poetry program at Vermont’s Governor’s Institute on the Arts.
She writes and performs songs with Patty Carpenter, and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz band, and with Eugene Uman of the Vermont Jazz Center. She has read her work on NPR stations, in the Vermont State House and at the John Simon Guggenheim Museum.
The Vermont Arts Council presented her with its Award of Merit, and its first Ellen McCollough-Lovell Award. Marlboro College gave her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2012. Verandah was featured in “Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie.” Her project, “Shedding Light on the Working Forest,” exploring the lives of people who work in the woods, a collaboration with visual artist Kathleen Kolb, has toured New England. Broad Brook Anthology, a play for voices, honors the lives of elders in Guilford, Vermont.
Her current project, “Faces of Home,” is a series of self-portraits in words narrated by residents of Great River Terrace, a community for people who had experienced homelessness, with portraits painted by River Gallery artists. Verandah serves on the Guilford Select Board, exploring the poetry of civic life.