Saturday, July 21, 2007

News from the Mad River Valley

Just stopped by my publishers website: and found this posted.
Thanks Trevor for saving the article: I would have missed it, and you know how authors love the occasional coverage!

(I post it now primarily because cyber space seems to be forever. I recently panicked when I'd realized in our last of 5 moves in the last 18 months, I'd lost some reviews from my first novel.
The beauty of blog-- I'll know where to look next time!)

Serving the Mad River Area Since 1971

Vermont Playwrights Award Winner Announced
The Valley Players announces the winner of the 2007 Vermont Playwrights Award: Return to West Raven by Eben Reilly of Bomoseen, Vermont.

The play takes place in a southern Vermont town where Adam Pierce, up from NYC for the summer, encounters his Gulf War dad's ghost among the wrecked cars and vans that litter his uncle's back acres. Sapped by the lethargy and sickness of Gulf War Syndrome and driven to despair by the government's refusal to acknowledge his disease, Richard Pierce had driven his VW Rabbit under the wheels of an oncoming tractor trailer truck when his son, Adam, was only five. Adam only now begins to understand that it was no accident and only now can he reconcile his life without his father and attempt to restore his wrecked life.

Eben Reilly lives in a netherworld of fiction and drama playing out in her head as she shuttles between her home in Castleton, Vermont, and her livelihood in New York City where she teaches for ASA Institute and CUNY. Having earned an MFA in playwriting at Brooklyn College in the late 1980s, she detoured into marriage and technical writing, primarily grants, proposals and press releases for public sculptor and husband Robert Ressler. When Reilly moved to Vermont with her husband to raise their three children, then two, three and five, she began freelancing children's stories and poems, segueing into young adult fiction as her children reached their own adolescence. However, life has a way of circling back, and with Return to West Raven the author has returned to drama, recently completing her second play entitled Bodies Whose Bodies.

Return to West Raven is the 21st play to receive the Vermont Playwrights Award, which was established in 1982 to promote the theater arts and to encourage and support the creation of original plays by residents of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Winning playwrights receive a cash prize of $1,000 and the possibility of production. The award is supported by the Audrey Mixer Endowment Fund, which was formed in memory of one of the Valley Players' most talented actresses by her husband, Richard Mixer.

Deadline for submissions of plays is February 1 of each year.More information on the Valley Players may be found on the web at


Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Official?

Receiving that phone call last month to hear I'd won the VT Playwright's Award, I felt a mixture of giddy excitement and looming suspicion. Maybe it's never having won something before,
but a dark gloomy doubt seemed to set in: but did I really?

Perhaps it stemmed from having worked in public art with my husband Rob who on one occasion won a commission, only to find out a week or two later that his proposal for a sculpture had been trumped in the end by a runner-up.

Committees can be like that.

Arbitrary purveyors of joy and disappointment.

Of course I visited the Valley Players website every few days to see if theyhad announced my
win. Of course whenever I didn't see the news posted, that nagging suspicion returned: yeah, but did I really.

Not even the press release convinced me. But this short article in 7 Days, the Burlington equivalent of the Village Voice, has finally allayed my fears.

Yeah, I guess I really did.

(Might be time to pick up my mail in Bomoseen to cash my winning check and buy a lap top.)


Young-Adult Writer Wins Vermont Playwrights Award
by Margot Harrison
DRAMA (07.04.07)

In Bomoseen writer Eben Reilly’s young-adult novel Wolf, a dad and his teenage son bond over their love of heavy metal. Thing is, Dad is dead and haunting a van in a southern Vermont back yard, which pulses with the strains of his favorite AC/DC tunes. And Son has been shipped off to his uncle’s rural home after an embarrassing incident involving his mood-altering prescription meds. It’s a fresh take on the old father-son bonding theme, that’s for sure. And a dramatic adaptation of the novel, titled Return to West Raven, just won Reilly the 21st Vermont Playwrights Award.

The award is bestowed by the Valley Players, Waitsfield’s community theater, and comes with a $1000 cash prize and the “possibility of production,” according to a press release. Eben Reilly is the pen name of Eileen Ressler, who hails from an artistic family — her husband is sculptor Rob Ressler, who created Brooklyn’s 9/11 memorial. Ressler earned an MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College two decades ago. She’s published Wolf and another novel for young adults with Braiswick, an independent, print-on-demand publisher in the U.K. Ressler chose her pseudonym in part to reflect the “imaginative contribution” of her teenage son Ben, whom she describes in an email as “my Google on all pop-cultural questions regarding rock [and] metal and [on] details regarding hand guns, lighters and alcohol. He doesn’t smoke, shoot or drink to excess, but he did seem to know how [to] load a Colt SAA and how many herbs go into Jägermeister.”

Ben also vetted Wolf’’s dialogue: “He has an ear for authenticity, insisting, ‘Mom, guys curse more,’” says Ressler. The collaboration works — Wolf takes on some hot-button issues without sounding condescending. Gulf Wars, past and present, also feature in the father-son relationship. Ressler says she and the Valley Players have discussed the possibility of staging a reading of Return to West Raven. For now, she’s completing new plays and shuttling back and forth between Vermont and New York City, where she teaches writing at CUNY and other schools. Meanwhile, she writes, her husband is contributing outdoor art to Franconia Park in Minnesota, “where he plans to sculpt a 15-foot arch of fish in August.” How long till their three kids start publishing? Send a LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Thank you, Valley Players... thank you, Margot. And good luck to all in your artistic

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Celebrations: VT and NY

Mother's Day, Father's Day who needs them?

Sears, certainly, great for lawn mower and Lazy Boy sales. At Macy's on the Saturday before M-Day the line ran past cosmetics into men's wear and nearly out the door onto Fulton Street during the 50% off most jewelry sale. Hallmark always makes out for the poetically impaired, and statistically restaurants do best on M-Day while sales of grills and charcoal peak on Dad's day.

Like I said, who needs them?

But this year, without planning it, I found myself seated at a picnic table-- well, a plank of wood balanced across two saw horses, surrounded by the wives and children of 3 of the best fathers I know: my husband sculptor Rob, devoted to our 3 kids who with him share a liking for smoked meats, crude humor and silly voices-- and a sometimes hard to deal with independence of mind. Tom Merwin: fireman, painter, also a lover of smoked meats, who has raised his son Matt to love and respect nature and art, a twofold vision both share, Tom in painting, Matt in film making. And Mike Brown: musician/ teacher who has not only passed on his musical genes to his son, drummer Dave Brown, but also drummed into him the importance of discipline in practice and hardcore commitment to the craft.

It hit me as I balanced a chocolate sheet cake leftover from one guest's graduation and a trifle
jiggling in a bowl by my British coloured sister-in law and a cake by Chris Brown. (I don't bake and am blessed by friends and family who do.) I was crossing through Rob's studio where the door opened onto the gravely yard where the lifting cloud of rib-smoke refracted the evening light that glinted off my brother Tom's silver buzz cut and the gleam of all those faces, shiney with the grease of many ribs and lamb chops.


How beautiful they all were in this shiney, greasy transcedent way.
And this was the holiday I had hoped to avoid.
(Now tomorrow I'll be back to tell you of a Blue Moon celebration in Brooklyn and the three amazing women who grace the top floor of a five story walk-up in Carrol Gardens with their own transcendent beauty.)
Okay, it's taken a couple of days to get back to finish this blog, primarily due to our move to yet another sublet, this time in Crown Heights, while the hovel by the graveyard is being transformed into a home.
On the night of the Blue Moon, which only showed itself briefly as a tangerine smudge modestly covering up behind sheer grey clouds, Sheela Woolford had a roof top party. And what a roof it was: a 360 degree reminder of all the reasons one might still tough it out to live in NYC. Despite insane rents and the stress of juggling jobs to pay them, the city still has long tree lined streets in Brooklyn, with stoops for those of us who still don't have airconditioning to sit until late hours like our parents of a generation ago and chat with neighbors as they come and go on a summer night. And in the distance the sparkling city. From Sheela's roof you can see it all. The close-up friendly down below view of Carrol Gardens, the elegant expanse of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and the still glittering promise of Manahattan.
Sheela our host writes. She recently accepted a sabbatical to finish her first novel. Also to her creation credits she can boast two stunning daughter: Lelah and Sarah who like the circular landscape that surrounded us from where we sat on their rooftop are both as solid and friendly as the Brooklyn street down below us, and as sparkling with promise as the NYC horizon by night beneath a Blue Moon.
Sitting with my friend, admiring her daughters as well as the silhouettes of my own twin teens against that Blue Moon sky studded with antennas and dotted with Dishes-- I thought this in fact was mother's day. Well, more like a mother's moment-- one of those blissful epiphanies when you see the loveliness of your own creative efforts.
Like living in New York these days, being a parent is so difficult, so expensive, so nearly impossible.
But sitting on Sheela's roof that I night I felt a wave of certainty: well worth it!