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Obituary for Former Rochesterian Finvola Drury

Anne Coon forwarded this obituary from beloved Rochester poet and peace activist Fin Drury, who is included in Poets Walk.

From the Bangor Daily News, January 20, 2015

BROOKSVILLE – Finvola Drury, poet, teacher and peace activist, died on Saturday, January 17th, 2015, of natural causes in Blue Hill, Maine. She was 88 years old.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1926, Ms. Drury was the daughter of Francis William (Dick) Drury and Marie McNeil. She attended Notre Dame Academy and Mary Manse College. Her first teaching was done as a lecturer at the Toledo Museum of Art. In 1948 she married philosopher and teacher George Drury in Chicago. There her daughter and son were born and she was first published in “Poetry, a Magazine of Verse.”

Ms. Drury earned a B.A. from Empire State College and an M.A from the University of Buffalo, where she studied with Robert Creeley and Marcus Klein. She taught Creative Writing at the University College of the University of Chicago, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and at Writers & Books (Rochester, New York) where she also served for fifteen years on the Board of Directors. During the sixties, she chaired Wayne State University’s Miles Modern Poetry Committee, organizing a remarkable array of readings and events in Detroit. Her poems and prose have appeared in a wide variety of publications, and she is the author of two books of poetry, “Burning the Snow,” and “Elegy on the Death of Joric Ross.” Her poems are included in a number of anthologies, among them “The Next Parish Over: A Collection of Irish-American Writing,” and “I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio.” Ms. Drury recently received a copy of the proofs for “From The Writing House: A Finvola Drury Reader” (edited by Sohnya Sayres). In his foreword, poet Jim LaVilla-Havelin writes that encountering Fin Drury’s work can make a reader or hearer feel “awake and whole and connected.” Poet Anne C. Coon identifies in Finvola Drury’s writings “a life-long commitment to reflection, to justice, and to the power of the word.”

Ms. Drury taught workshops on autobiographical writing, and she helped many of her students complete and publish their memoirs. Groups founded by former workshop participants continue to meet together to this day. She was invited to read her works at many venues, including The Newberry Library in Chicago. Finvola Drury wrote extensively about her life with her Jewish neighbors in Detroit, and she was frequently asked to share those writings in readings for synagogue-based groups in several cities. Her “The Radio Seder” was broadcast live on WFMT-Chicago as part of the station’s Passover programming. Called Fin by her many friends and students, she interacted generously with people. The poet Langston Hughes once asked her to stay in an audience because she was such a good laugher. Her caregivers and friends said that while they were caring for her, she was still teaching them.

A tireless worker for peace and for civil rights, Finvola Drury in 1968 entered a congressional primary as a peace candidate. She provided active support for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, helping to feed the veterans who came to Detroit for the first Winter Soldier hearings. She also gave poetry readings to call attention to veterans’ issues. Her father worked on the railroad and that informed her sense of the rights of laborers. At the age of eighty-five, and still in the first stages of recovering from a stroke, she joined her neighbors in a public demonstration.

Ms. Drury cited a significant experience that helped her to think of herself as a writer. She writes: “In 8th grade a nun, Sister Delphine, read aloud an essay of mine, ‘Storm over Lake Erie.’ She pointed out my use of metaphor and rhythms, establishing for me an irreversible connection between myself and language.”

Finvola Drury’s letters, papers and manuscripts are housed in the special Collections Department of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Ms. Drury’s daughter, Finvola, AIDS scientist and health worker, died in 1991. George F. Drury, her husband of sixty-two years, died in 2010. She is survived by her brother David, of Waterville, Ohio, his wife Aggie; many nieces and nephews; her son George, and her daughter-in-law, Kathy Cowan, both of Chicago.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 49 Main St. Blue Hill

Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com – See more at: http://obituaries.bangordailynews.com/obituaries/bdnmaine/obituary.aspx?n=finvola-drury&pid=173907408&#sthash.AadjCsGZ.dpuf


  • Welcome to 2015, Just Poets, and may this year be all you want it to be!
  • On Thursday, January 8thDavid Forman is our featured reader followed by open mic (Barnes & Noble, 7 PM). You may not know David—he divides his time between Ithaca and Rochester and comes to readings and meetings when he can. He’s a fine poet and we look forward to hearing him read at length.
  • Saturday, January 10th is our monthly meeting at St. John Fisher. Bob McDonough leads a program on poet Russell Atkins. Here’s a link to a good article on Atkins along with a sample of his poems:   http://beltmag.com/rediscovering-russell-atkins/. Bring your poems for workshop afterwards. Please note that we will meet in the Wilson Formal Lounge, just past the student cafeteria on the first floor. (1:30-4 PM).
  • Tuesday, January 13th features Colleen Powderly and Kathleen Van Schaick as part of the Genesee Writers Series at Writers & Books (7:30 PM; flyer info below).

GENESEE READING SERIES     Tuesday, January 13, 2015     Writers and Books     740 University Ave. Rochester

7:30 pm, $3 members; $6 public

Don’t miss the January kickoff of the 2015 GRS Series! Colleen Powderly and Kathleen Van Schaick present stirring, provocative, carefully-crafted poetry to take your mind off the winter blues.

Kathleen Van Schaick has been an elementary school teacher and literary anthology editor (Le Mot Juste, Foothills Publishing, 2008-2010). Her work has been published in The MacGuffin, The Broad River Review, Cairn: St. Andrews Review, The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America and Listening to Water: The Susquehanna Watershed Anthology. She was awarded the 2006 Portia Steele Award in Poetry. She serves as program coordinator on senior issues for WXXI radio’s Reachout Radio, programming for the blind and visually impaired, and is a hospice volunteer. An avid hiker, she has hiked in Vermont, North Carolina and Newfoundland.

Colleen Powderly’s early poems reflect her childhood in the deep South and a decade spent in the Midwest. Those poems eventually formed the basis for her book, Split (FootHills Publishing, 2009). More recent work has focused on narrative and ekphrastic poems. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Ekphrasis, Steel Toe Review, Third Wednesday, and The Centrifugal Eye, and has been anthologized in Malala: Poems for Malala Yousefzai and Mo’ Joe: The Anthology. Colleen has served on the editorial board for the Just Poets anthology, Le Mot Juste, and is currently Vice President of that organization.

Holiday Party This Saturday!

Our annual holiday party is  this Saturday, December 6, hosted by Lori Nolasco from 1:30 to 4 PM.

Lori’s address is 19 Needham Street, Rochester, NY 14615.

Bring a dish or drinks and a poem to share for our traditional read around (note: the party takes the place of our monthly meeting, of course).


The address is 19 Needham Street, Rochester, NY 14615. Needham is just off Hwy. 104/Ridge Road in Greece.

From points south you can come up I-390 past the airport and north to exit 24A onto 104 East/Ridge Road. Drive just over a mile east on Ridge Rd; Needham is on the right and Lori’s house is second on the right.

Going Away Party for Wynne McClure

Poet Wynne McClure, a beloved figure in the Greater Rochester poetry scene who was honored last year with a Lifetime Membership in Just Poets, is moving to an assisted living center near her son in West Virginia. Her friends are planning a get-together in her honor on Tuesday, Nov. 25th, from noon – 2:00pm at Rivers Run, East River Road, Henrietta. Hope to see many of her friends there!

Bill Heyen at RIT!

On Wednesday, November 19, the distinguished poet William Heyen will be visiting classes and reading his poetry. A poetry professor for three decades at SUNY/Brockport, Bill Heyen mentored numerous students who’ve gone on to become noted poets in their own right, including many members of Just Poets. He also graciously agree to read at our 10th anniversary celebration at the Arts Council’s gallery last April.

Consider joining us for the following free, public events:

3-3:50 pm: Reception and informal discussion in the Bamboo Room, Campus Center 2650 , Student Alumni Union, RIT

4:00-5:30 pm: Poetry Reading and Booksigning in the Reading Room,  Campus Center 2050, SAU


William Heyen was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Suffolk county on Long Island. He received a BA from the State University of New York at Brockport and earned a doctorate in English from Ohio University in 1967. Heyen taught American literature and creative writing at SUNY Brockport for over 30 years before retiring in 2000.  Heyen has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2004, he was one of the five finalists for the National Book Award for poetry for his volume Shoah Train. His works include Hiroshima Suite (2012), The Angel Voices (2010), Confessions of Doc Williams and Other Poems (2006), Pig Notes and Other Dumb Music: Prose on Poetry(1998), and Diana, Charles, & the Queen(1998), Crazy Horse in Stillness (1996),Pterodactyl Rose: Poems of Ecology (1991),Long Island Light: Poems and a Memoir(1979), and The Swastika Poems (1977). 












Upcoming Readings


Bob McDonough & Maril Nowak will read their wonderful poetry. A sign-up list will be available for folks who want to read during the open mic.

On Sunday, November 9, Just Poets member Anita Augesen will read with Carol McMahon at Books Etc. on rt. 31 (the main street) in MACEDON at 4 p.m. This is a beautiful, intimate space where poetry is not only read but discussed. If you have an opportunity, GO! You’ll love it!

Next Tuesday, November 11, Just Poets member Katherine DaCosta and her son Kenyatta DaCosta will present their work at the Genesee Reading Series, 7:30 p.m. (come at 7 for refreshments) at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave in Rochester. $3 for members, $6 for the public.

Katherine DaCosta: a pen and a ream of paper and she is entertained and involved for life. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and papers including about…time, Essence,The NY Times, The Christian Science Monitor and the now laid-to-archives Upstate and Times Union. She has read at Writers and Books and spoken at Unity Church of Greater Rochester. Her work has been anthologized in two volumes of Le Mot Juste; last year her poem “Holding Pattern” was given special mention by Eve Hanninen (editor, The Centrifugal Eye) who judged the Janus Award. Katherine is an avid private journalist, with more than thirty volumes completed. Reading with her son will be a treat.

Kenyatta DaCosta was born in Pittsburgh but grew up in the Rochester area. While he was involved with the arts in high school, academically he was drawn to the sciences. In college he majored in mathematics partially to minimize the number of written assignments he would face before graduation. After graduation he experienced much angst, partially because he was trying to figure out what life was all about and how best to live it. He wanted the answer “now”, or at least within the week. It was during that time that he enjoyed regular appearances at a local open mic comedy night. Often, the material did not produce any laughs from the audience, but it felt good to create and perform. Later, Kenyatta came across alternative views and information not usually mentioned in mainstream sources. Some of this information he wanted to share, and he soon realized that the written word can be a very useful medium. He believes that art can not only convey ideas, but also heal.

Just Poets Annual Fall Retreat.

Hi, I’m Colleen Powderly, current VP of Just Poets, letting you know about our Fall Retreat this coming Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Gell Center in the Bristol Hills. We’ve got the beautiful conference area we’ve used in years past from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s the day’s schedule:

9:00 a.m. Arrival. Tea & coffee.

9:30 – 10:30 Opening Talk/Writing & Sharing Poems on this year’s theme: The Poem as Journey. Bring a poem that explains your interpretation of a poetic journey. You can interpret that any way you want–the point of the day is to think about the many ways poems mean journeys to us or take us on journeys or whatever.

10:45 – 11:45  Morning Workshops

11:45 – 12:30 Pot Luck Lunch

12:30 – 1  Announcements & clean-up.

1 – 2   Afternoon Workshops

45 minute break    Time for walking, writing, talking.

2:45 – 3:45 Reflection and Sharing Poems.

4 p.m. Home!

WORKSHOPS (choice of one morning workshop & one afternoon workshop)

Morning Workshops

On the Road from Art to Poetry  Karla Linn Merrifield & Colleen Powderly     This workshop will take you into the world of ekphrastic poetry. What is ekphrastic poetry? Why do so many poets write it? What makes for a successful ekphrastic poem? We try to answer these questions with input from the group and using our own experiences as poets. Hopefully, you’ll learn a little about ekphrasis, and have a lot of fun using 2 opportunities to try your hand at composing your own ekphrastic poems.

Art of Metaphor     David Yockel         American writer Orson Scott Card once said, “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.” The goal for this workshop is for us to squeeze as much truth into an hour as language and imagination will allow. Metaphor obviously plays an integral role in the reading and writing of poetry, but its ability to aid in our understanding of the world is even more important. It is a deep well of ambiguity and indirectness that provides opportunities for meaning that will never dry up. We will engage in some fun and playful exercises that take advantage of metaphor’s limitless scope. If you plan to be part of this workshop, please bring at least one small object with you to the retreat.

Out of This World: Speculative Journeys in Poetry      Celeste Schantz & David Delaney      We take the concept of “journey” and ask: “What if we take ourselves out of our present place and time to write a poem which uses familiar devices in a landscape that’s unfamiliar?” We will adapt writing prompts developed by Carolyn Forche to create poetic travel posters or travel diary entries or just a good old traditional poem (of 20 lines or less) set in some new terrain:  some place in the past or future, under the sea, up in a sky city, within a dream state, or even a place not on Earth! Images will be provided for the visual art portion. We intend to get writers out of their comfort zones and to use the imagination to journey far away.

A Calendar of Poems: Writing and Weathering the Year in Twelve Parts     Bart White     We journey through the year, month by month noting changes subtle and dramatic, and feel compelled to write them. Our challenge is to respond to the feel and look of weather, of changing seasons, and to record the human experience of these nuances and moods, and to add in our own. Bring writing samples of your best firsthand observations where weather and mood are foregrounded. Bring your already written poems and plan to write more. We’ll look at classic and contemporary examples of poems on particular months. What are common strengths; what’s cliche and what’s made fresh?

Come join us for a great day of immersion in poetry!

Here’s a poem to get you started on your journey:


You drive down the road and an old

song comes on the radio. You

think how you never really listen

to the radio, but today, this day, you do,

and a silly song, drums like popcorn,

guitars picking like a kid with peas, idiotic

boy singer zipping through your car,

spitting throwaway words yellowed

like leaves blighted with spots, their warts

parched like the skin over your heart,

skin that reddens, throbs, reminds you

under your cracked, wary surface, skin that

strains with sutures, leaks scarlet on the boy’s

words. Spilling, mixing scarlet and yellow,

rivers down the front of your shirt, the seat,

your jeans, your clean new sneakers. They

slip on the pedals. The boy zips to the end,

even sillier, spits out forever as rivers

seep under the doors, slip out into the wind,

orange ribbons flying behind the car, catching,

crushing under the wheels, leaving their

threads on the highway.


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