Tag Archives: Diane Lowman

Roundup: Stakeout, Sand, Soundview …

There is a back story to yesterday’s post about the “stakeout” at the Compo Beach fireworks: the large section of sand marked off by stakes and ropes.

Just before 7:30 p.m. last night — as crowds swelled — I received this email:

“I was involved in the group that staked out a portion of the beach today. It clearly looks bad, and I guess we should have thought of another way to handle it.

“Some members of my church are bringing 30 men from the Pivot House substance abuse program in Bridgeport to Compo for the fireworks. We wanted them to have a nice night out, and to know that there are people supporting them.

“We had a cookout at the church prior to the show, and wanted to make sure we had a large enough space so they could all be together, and frankly insulated from the amount of drinking that will be going on around them.

“While the stakes were overly aggressive, I wanted you to know it was coming from a good place.”

All’s well that ends well. Next year, they’ll put up several signs noting exactly why the area was staked out.

And no one else will copy the idea for family and friends.

Yesterday’s stakeout. (Photo/Gara Morse)

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Meanwhile, in one of the most astonishing (and under-appreciated) vanishing acts of the year, Westport’s Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments worked (once again) through the night to turn last night’s massive bash into this morning’s pristine beach. Gone, miraculously, are (literally) tons of trash.

When the final firework faded (and the barge fire was doused), thousands of partyers headed to their cars. They left behind all the remains of picnics, barbecues and open bars, plus countless chairs, tables, towels, and probably a random kid or two.

Let’s hear it for all the men and women we never saw, who made sure that when the sun came up, not a trace of last night remained!

Compo Beach, 8 a.m. this morning. Party? What party? (Photo/Karen Como)

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Speaking (still) of the fireworks:

One of the great parts (among many) of last night’s show was the scene along Soundview Drive.

Closed to vehicles, the waterfront road became a party promenade.

People of all ages strolled up and down, greeting friends and enjoying the views. A marching band strutted; music blared from house parties; vendors sold sparklers.

Kids rode bikes and scooters. Police officers chatted with teenagers. It was like Venice Beach in California, without the body builders.

So I’ll resurrect the idea I throw out every year, which never goes anywhere: Why do we do this only once a year?

How about 2 or 3 other dates each summer? Pick a few Sundays. Close down Soundview. Bring in a band or two, maybe some jugglers and clowns too.

Okay, Parks & Rec, police and selectwomen. Let the good times roll!

Soundview Avenue — without vehicles — was a place to see, and be seen. (Photo/Diane Yormark)

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There may have been 15,000 people at the Compo fireworks last night.

But dozens of others opted instead for MoCA Westport.

They enjoyed the less crowded but equally exciting opening reception for the summer exhibition, “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse.” It explores how female artists use textiles to subvert the social expectation of crafting by lambasting this soft medium with political and social awareness.

The museum will hold free “Cocktails & Conversations” events on select Thursday evenings, featuring speakers relevant to the exhibition. Free gallery tours will also be available. Click here for details.

Shelly McCoy writes on her interactive piece, “We The People.” Musem-goers are invited to write their own thoughts and feelings about the US and its politics, in red and blue crayons. (Photo/Leslie LaSala)

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After 3 years Westport’s first poet laureate, Diane Meyer Lowman, has passed her pen along. Newly appointed laureate Jessie Noyes McEntee has taken over.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker paid tribute to Diane and her contributions, in a Westport Library event on Wednesday.

Poet laureates Diane Lowman (left) and Jessie McEntee on the Library screen, and the crowd after the ceremony. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Sunday marked a milestone: The Susan Fund has now distributed more than $2 million in scholarships to area students diagnosed with cancer. For the 3rd year in a row, this disbursement ($99,500, to 23 recipients) set a record.

The Fund honors Susan Lloyd, a Staples High School graduate who lost her battle with cancer before starting college at Colgate University. Her mother, Fund founder and chair Ann Lloyd, served as MC for this year’s ceremony.

To learn more or to donate, click here.

Ann Lloyd

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Details come later, but mark your calendar now:

The 2nd annual VersoFest is set for March 30 through April 2, 2023, at the Westport Library.

The multimedia festival — with music, workshops and much more — builds on the success and power of this year’s inaugural event.

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Thanks to all who sent fireworks-and-more shots yesterday. I’m sorry I could not use them all.

But before we go, here’s one I just got, from a true pro — Ted Horowitz. It’s not from Compo Beach, though. He captured the view from Harbor Road perfctly.

Enjoy!

(Photo/copyright Ted Horowitz)

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A few hours earlier, Ted captured (on camera) this handsome egret, for “Westport … Naturally”:

(Photo/copyright Ted Horowitz)

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And finally … as we head into our Independence Day holiday, let’s not forget our neighbors to the north. It’s Canada Day today.

Congratulations! Félicitations!

Meet And Greet New Poet Laureate

Here’s news both bittersweet and great:
After 3 years, Westport has a new poet laureate.

Hopefully, she’s a better poet than I am.

Diane Lowman’s 3 years as Westport’s poet-in-residence ends June 30. She’ll pass the torch — or pen, or computer keyboard or whatever — next Wednesday (June 29), at a noontime Westport Library ceremony.

Our new poet laureate is Jessica Noyes McEntee. Her 2-year term begins July 1.

McEntee, her husband, 2 young children (now teenagers) and pets moved into a historic Westport house in 2013. She is active in the community, serving on the boards of the Westport Young Woman’s League and Save Westport Now.

She’s also a working poet. Her debut chapbook, Jackie O. Suffers Two Husbands & Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. She’s taught at Westport Writers’ Workshop since 2015,

Poet laureate-designee Jessica Noyes McEntee.

Poet laureate is not a full-time gig. McEntee works in marketing for the Pequot Library in Southport. The Amherst College graduate was previously an editor at John Wiley & Sons.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee oversaw the selection process of the new laureate. Applicants met with a selection committee that included members of the WAAC, Westport Public Schools and the Westport Library. McEntee was officially appointed by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

As Westport’s first poet laureate,  her predecessor Lowman enriched town meetings, collaborated with schools, and ran workshops for the Senior Center. She recited  original haikus at many local events, including the dedication of the reimagined Library in 2019.

Diane Lowman (Photo/Jane LaMotta)

Don’t Wait! Be Great! Our Next Poet Laureate!

Forget 1st selectwoman. Who cares about superintendent of schools?

The real cool job is … Westport’s poet laureate.

The position comes vacant July 1. Diane Lowman — our first (and so far only) town poet completes her term June 30.

During her tenure, she recited and curated poetry at town ceremonies and events, schools, Senior Center, Library and arts events.

Diane was particularly creative during the pandemic, launching a lawn sign campaign to help raise spirits.

Haiku, by Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman

Westport’s poet laureate serves as an ambassador for both the town and the literary form, helping continue our vibrant literary history.

Specifically, the poet laureate:

  • Promotes poetry as a form of communication, inspiration, and entertainment for local residents.
  • Participates in Connecticut Poet Laureate group programs throughout the state.
  • Expands access to, and creates connection through, poetry.
  • Elevates awareness of and appreciation for all forms of poetry.
  • Advocates for poetry, literature and the arts.
  • Contributes to the town’s literary legacy through public readings and participation in civic events.

The First Selectwoman’s office appoints the poet laureate. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee administers the program.

Diane Meyer Lowman with her haiku, at the Westport Book Shop.

Candidates should be 21 years of age or older, live in Westport, and have a wide range of relevant knowledge and experience. They must be comfortable with public speaking, and willing to work collaboratively with the school district, Library and other cultural organizations to develop and present poetry-related activities and events.

Of course — this being poetry — the position is honorary and non-compensated. The term runs for 2 years.

Click here for the application packet. The deadline is April 15. Questions? Email waac@westportct.gov,with the subject line “Poet.”

Roundup: Saugatuck Sweets, Valentine’s Sweets, Haiku …

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Last night’s Saugatuck Elementary School 5th grade orchestra and chorus concert was the first such in-person event in 2 years.

To celebrate afterward, kids and parents headed to Saugatuck Sweets. To their dismay, they learned their favorite shop closes at 8 p.m.

To their delight, owners and employees kept the place open late.

Grateful parent Felicia Sale says, “Thank you Saugatuck Sweets!”

Celebrating at Saugatuck Sweets.

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United Way of Coastal Fairfield County has awarded the town of Westport $2,000. The funds — and a supply of KN95 masks — support residents impacted by COVID, along with a supply of KN95 protective face masks.

This is the third round of United Way grants to help during the pandemic. It brings to 6,500 the number of masks donated to residents.  A previous award of gift cards helped ease the way for struggling residents.

United Way has also helped area agencies, including Homes with Hope, during COVID.

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Westport ❤s Local to Market. And the aptly named food-and-more store celebrates upcoming Valentine’s Day with a few specials this weekend.

This Saturday (February 12, 1 to 4 p.m.), Locavore Kitchens offers the debut of heart meringues, and tastings of shortbread cookies.

Dustin Lowman — one of Westport’s favorite singer/songwriter/guitarists — plays Saturday too, from 2 to 4 p.m.

And, of course, there’s a full array of Valentine’s goodies, from BE Chocolat and Knipschildt.

Dustin Lowman

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Speaking of the Lowman family:

Poet laureate

Presents great haiku workshop

At Wakeman Town Farm

It’s not great haiku. But that’s what’s happening February 28 (7 p.m.) at Wakeman Town Farm.

Westport’s own Diane Lowman (aka Dustin’s mother) will help you learn to write concisely and beautifully — well, at least more beautifully than my effort. The Farm will serve as inspiration. Click here for details and registration.

Haiku, by Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman

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Fans of Mark Twain and/or music will enjoy the Westport Library’s February 27 event.

Westport composer Barbara Backlar Reis will present songs and commentary from her original collaboration “My Millionaire.” The musical is based on Twain’s short story, “The Million Pound Bank Note.”

The show explores the themes of money and power and how people behave toward those who possess them. Click here for details, and registration.

Coming (sort of) to the Westport Library

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The family of Roberta Eggart writes that their “proud stage manager, assistant to Michael Sottile, writer, dancer, sister, mother of 3, widow, comedy texter, giver of gift cards to strangers and collector of stray humans, died peacefully on January 26 at the age of doesn’t matter. She will be missed by all who interacted with her.”

She lived in Westport for 3 decades, and knew nearly everyone. She is survived by her children Kat, Casey and Jesse Eggart, and grandson Kai.

Kat calls her mother “one of a kind, and a huge influence in so many people’s lives. She loved to dance, sing and write. She was  the best stage manager in the world, and the coolest mom in town!”

The family adds, “A celebration of life will be announced at a later date. Light a candle and wish her well. That’s how she rolled.”

Roberta Eggart

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Nancy Prevo Andersen — believed to be the last surviving member of Staples High School’s Class of 1941 — died recently in Texas. She was 98 years old.

A noted illustrator and artist who showed frequently in the Southwest and Mexico, she was married to Bill Andersen (Staples ’42). Nancy’s father-in-law, Einar Andersen — longtime president of Westport Bank & Trust — helped put together financing for the town’s purchase of Longshore in 1959.

Nancy and Bill had 4 children: Nonnie, Lee, Diane and BJ. Further details on survivors and services were unavailable. (Hat tips: Carl Addison Swanson, Tom Allen)

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Jerry Kuyper sends along today’s “Westport … Naturally” image, with this comment: “At our feeder, birds of a different feather flock together.”

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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And finally … to get you in the mood for Dustin Lowman’s appearance this Saturday at Local to Market (above), check out this video:

Facing Grief, To Live A Full Life

Dustin Lowman and Julie Blitzer met at a Westport Little League field.

There — as Dustin coached Julie’s son’s team of young boys — he and she talked about death.

We all experience loss — but we seldom know how to deal with it. Julie — who has been trained by the Grief Recovery Institute — shows us how, with insight, wisdom and compassion.

Dustin is still in his 20s. A 2011 Staples High School graduate, he’s now a freelance writer and musician. Most people his age, doing what he’s doing, don’t think about loss and grief.

But he immediately got what Julie said.

“The general perception of grief is that it’s unpleasant,” Dustin notes. “It actually gives you a chance to reflect, and go inward. If you face it head on, it doesn’t have to be negative.”

Julie Blitzer

When Julie encourages people to tell stories and share memories during the grieving process, she says, it inevitably leads to lightness and laughter. It’s fulfilling, offering opportunities to share, connect, and appreciate life.

“Looking at the monster under the bed makes it less scary — especially when you do it with others,” adds Diane Lowman. She’s Dustin’s mother, and Westport’s poet laureate.

On February 2 (6:30 to 8 p.m.), Diane and Julie team up to offer a free workshop at the Westport Library.

Through writing and mindfulness exercises, “Exploring Grief, Mortality and Vitality” will help participants address the 4 aspects of the human experience –mental, physical, emotional and spiritual — in order to gain a life-affirming perspective about death.

“You don’t have to be grieving to find a benefit” from their session, Diane explains. It’s designed for anyone who wants to lead “a more vital life,” and be prepared for loss whenever it arises.

“The biggest pain point is unresolved grief,” Diane says.

“If we can be more mindful of grief during life, we can lessen that pain.”

(For more information, and to register for “Grief, Mortality and Vitality,” click here. For Julie Blitzer’s website, click here.) 

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 80 Gallery

Today, our online art gallery showcases a new medium: fused glass.

We’re also introducing haiku.

And for the first time ever, 2 pieces share the same name: “Fall Colors.”

What will be new next week? It’s up to you.

Whatever your age and level of experience — professional or amateur, young or old — this feature is open to everyone.

All genres and styles are encouraged too. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage (and now needlepoint) — whatever you’ve got, email it to dwoog@optonline.net. Share your work with the world!

“Fall Colors” — fused glass (Virginia Baxter)

“Wall at the Mall” (Karen Weingarten)

“Fall Colors” — haiku (Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman)

“Roses and Wine” (Larry Untermeyer)

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 35 Gallery

Thanksgiving is (almost) here. Submissions to our Saturday art gallery are starting to include some familiar holiday themes. Keep ’em coming!

Each week, we welcome submissions from all artists. You don’t have to be a pro, or even experienced. We want it all!

Works should be inspired by, relevant to, or somehow, in some way, connected to our current lives. Student art of all ages is especially welcome.

Email dwoog@optonline.net, to share your work with the world. Then enjoy your turkey!

“With Thanks for All Our Memories” (Ellin Spadone)

“Emaskulation” (Miggs Burroughs took all these photos during a 20-minute walk in Parker Harding Plaza)

Untitled (DIane Lowman)

“Welcome” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Morning Sky at Saugatuck Elementary School” (Olivia Whee, age 7)

“We Are Family” (Karen Weingarten)

“Happy Thanksgiving” (Amy Schneider)

“Falling Leaves” (Judith Koffsky — a giant Japanese red maple on Compo Road South)

 

Roundup: Poet Laureates; Jessica Bram; More


A new video called Connecticut Poets Respond features current and past town poet laureates reading their works online. They’re “responding” to the current state of the world (pandemic, the environment … you get the idea.)

Westport’s own laureate, Diane Lowman, is one of the featured poets.

Fellow laureate David Bibbey of Woodbury produced it. Westporters know him through his video work at the Westport Library. Click below to see:


Rozanne Gates reports that Jessica Bram — Westport’s much-loved author/writing teacher/NPR commentator — needs our support.

She is recovering from an almost-fatal fall. Cards of encouragement will help her see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Her address is 32 Webb Road, Westport, CT 06880. Let’s all write to our writer!

Jessica Bram


And finally … of course:

 

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 17 Gallery

Summer’s here. The town is reopening. Your art gallery submissions are slacking!

Here are this week’s works. We will keep posting them as long as you keep sending them.

Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Every medium is welcome. We are particularly interested in student art.

The only rule: Your art must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through — or the times we’ve lost. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

“Opening Up” (Karen Weingarten)

“Compo Moonrise” (Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman)

“Good Humor Man” (Lawrence Weisman)

Untitled, plein air watercolor (Werner Liepolt)

“Life is Just a (Handmade) Bowl of Cherries” (Amy Schneider

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 8 Gallery

Congratulations! We’re already at Week 8 of our pandemic art gallery.

Every Saturday, “06880” highlights readers’ creativity. Professional, amateur, old, young — you send us your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, chalkwork, cartoons, whatever.

The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through.

After 2 months, we’re still going strong. Keep the submissions coming (including students, of any grade!). Just email dwoog@optonline.net.

“The Scream 2020,” painting (Norm Siegel)

“Close and Separate” (Lawrence Gordon)

“My Bedroom Window Haiku” (Diane Lowman)

“Spring is Inevitable” (Werner Liepolt)

“Isolation” (Leslie Beatus)

(Tess Feldman, age 13)

“Back and Forth on the Same Street” (Joyce Landon)

Sidewalk art (Tom Haberstroh)

“Absence of Truth in Our Critical Time of Need” (Miggs Burroughs and Mark Yurkiw)

“Floral Distancing” (Judith Marks-White)

“We Are All Interconnected,” handmade beaded necklace (Amy Schneider)

“Guard Dog” (Karen Weingarten)

Hand-sewn masks in production (Amanda Kuster)

“Seeing What I’ve Known, and Seeing an Unknown Future,” collage and acrylic (Bevi Bullwinkel)