Arts on the Edge – Poets Returns to Pinckney Boathouse: Cording, Sholl to Read Poems, Lead Workshops

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The streak continues with Poets Robert Cording Ph.D. of Holy Cross & Former Maine Laureate Betsy Sholl to read poems, lead workshops on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee at the Pinckney Boathouse on the Campus of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH.

Pinckney Boat House - Wolfeboro, NH On Shores of Lake Winnipesaukee

Pinckney Boat House on the Campus of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH - Inspirational Setting for Poetry Workshop located on the Shores of Lake Winnipesaukee (Photo by Marcia Eldredge)

Poetry and the Social Conscience Theme -
Cording will look at poems that interweave a personal story and an historical event.
Sholl will approach the theme from a slightly different angle. “Poetry is a place where inner and outer worlds meet"

Arts on the Edge has an unblemished record of attracting top-notch artists to Wolfeboro. In bringing poets Robert Cording and Betsy Sholl to town August 22, they are extending that string of successes through another season.

This marks the third annual poetry day sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council and Arts on the Edge at The Pinckney Boathouse at Brewster Academy. This year, organizer Nancy Langfeld has hooked Cording, a professor at College of the Holy Cross, and Sholl, a former Maine Poet Laureate, to give readings and lead workshops. An open mic reading will follow in the evening.

In each of the events they sponsor, Arts on the Edge endeavors to celebrate the spiritual value of artistic creativity, to engage the public in a thoughtful reflection on the role of art in our daily lives. In the past two years, poetry has provided a very direct and articulate means of fostering this engagement. The theme of poetry day this year is “Poetry and the Social Conscience.”

    Cording has titled his workshop “The Family Around the Table,” drawing from poet James Merrill’s observation, “We understand history through the family around the table.” In an overview of his workshop, Cording wrote, “I will look at poems that interweave a personal story and an historical event.

    “Just as fiction or movies often establish a number of separate and seemingly unrelated character lines and stories and then later interweave those lines together, we’ll study poems by others and write poems to see how we can arrive at poems that couple personal and historical events. We will especially consider how the writer can make public subjects their own and can avoid ‘party-line’ thinking and advocacy and still speak with a social conscience.”

    Sholl’s workshop will approach the theme from a slightly different angle. “Poetry is a place where inner and outer worlds meet,” she writes. “On that shoreline we both influence and are influenced by the world. Poetry about social concerns has to involve all the surprise, discovery, vulnerability that are a part of any other kind of writing. As poets we need to allow ourselves to be challenged and moved; changed in the process of engaging with social concerns.”

And what will that mean to those who attend? “This workshop will involve writing exercises that help us find ways to approach our concerns through discovery and surprise,” she said. “We will look at model poems, write our own drafts and give each other feedback on those drafts.”

Admission is free to all events, but attendees are asked to pre-register for the day (or individual parts of the event) by emailing info(at)artsedgewolfeboro(dot)org or calling 651-8343.

The day of poetry opens at 10 a.m., with introductory remarks, coffee, tea and muffins. Betsy Sholl’s reading and workshop will run until the 12:30 p.m. lunch break.

Attendees are invited either to bring lunch and sit outside the Boathouse, which overlooks the lake, or to take the 5-minute walk downtown to several restaurants.

After lunch, Robert Cording’s reading and workshop runs from 2:00 to 4:30. Following a dinner break, the conference resumes with an open mic reading from 7 to 8:30, and a discussion from 8:30 to 9.

Arts on the Edge is an non-profit outreach program of the First Congregational Church Wolfeboro. This year’s exploration of Poetry and the Social Conscience is sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. For more information please call 603-651-8343 or visit

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