Any poet that’s been in the Hudson Valley knows of the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. To many a poet, The Colony Cafe was a place to express yourself, a place where had a local vibe but made you feel like you were a pro wrestler that was debuting in Madison Square Garden. The pressure of bring a featured reader there was always there, but if you could make it there, you could make it anywhere. There was a sense of accomplishment by being there in and of itself, one that made you work harder at your craft.
It always had a community feel, like an unofficial town square feel to it, as it did when the artist community there (led by the incomparable Phillip Levine of Chronogram fame) held a memorial service for my late mentor Larry 12 years ago as we all laid him to rest in the nearby Artists Cemetery.
The point I try to impress is that there was so community feel to the Colony, one that was sorely missed when the poetry reading there closed some years ago.
That’s what makes tonight so special for me, as I type this, I’m back at The Colony Cafe for a fundraiser for a legendary local poet, Donald Lev, who needs renovations for his house but needs the community to help him as he’s dealt with the cards he’s worked with all his life, be it age or other factors.
As it has done in years past, the community has rallied around Don and brought family, friends, fellow poets and a community in general together all for a common purpose: to help those in need. Indeed, a true example of community and togetherness will be hard to find, much less top (though some will equal it, in all fairness.)
Community can be the best thing to rely on in both the best and the worst of times but there’s no doubt that without it, it can be daunting (impossible, perhaps?) to overcome the rough patches that come in life. Even while losing his wife and other things, Donald has taught us all so much and by his example, has shown us all how to preserve and to….