For the past two weeks we have been privileged with the opportunity to live in the historic Klingel House and immerse ourselves in Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg community, and the surrounding countryside. With each foggy sunrise, each new poem we write, and each photograph we take, we feel ourselves grow more attached to the landscape, to the people, to the history and realize how difficult it is going to be to leave at the end of July.
This morning we watched the day break at the Pennsylvania Memorial Monument, picked up a large coffee to go, and watched the sun light the western hillside from Little Round Top. On our way to the top we passed a very large insect with very large pincers resting on a wooden railing. It had lost half its wing in its own type of battle.
Other mornings we have walked the roads among early joggers and taken photographs of frogs who make homes in the wet field puddles and the red-wing blackbirds who like to sit on the fences, the mockingbirds who sing from the highest perches: the shoulders of monument soldiers, the roof of our barn.
As we welcome the mornings, we also welcome the nights. The full moon rising over St. Barbara’s trumpet at the Louisiana monument on Seminary Ridge, the sun turning the golden fields to blood from McPherson’s barn. From the area of town we’ve taken to calling Ghost Row we’ve watched visitors eat ice cream and tour guides carrying lanterns lead them slowly into the night.
From the Farnsworth House beer garden and the deck at O’Rorke’s we’ve watched couples holding hands stroll, excited puppies dangling their tongues out passing car windows. We’ve watch re-enactors dressed in Zouave lick chocolate mint ice cream at Mr G’s and confederate and union soldiers share cigars. Over 4th of July weekend we even had the chance to speak with officers from the USS Gettysburg.
Each day has brought us moments to reflect on the battle and research history with the assistance of the park’s knowledgeable and passionate rangers and its collection of artifacts and books. During the day we each work on our poetry projects. Rob on his series of poems about a soldier named AP; Michelle on a series of poems about women soldiers and women at home far from the fighting. It has been an endless journey of discovery that will influence our art and lives in ways we could not have imagined before our stay. We are blessed to have Gettysburg, which is part of a national history we all share, become part of our own personal history, as well.
On Saturday, July 18, from 11 a.m . to noon,the artists are hosting a free, hour-long creative writing workshop in the tent at Ranger Program Site #2 behind the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The workshop introduces the tradition of American creative writing with an emphasis on researching and composing poems and fiction related to the Civil War. The public is invited, free of charge. For more information go to: http://www.nps.gov/gett/learn/news/creative-writing-workshop.htm.
Michele Bonczek Evory and Rob Evory, Gettysburg National Military Park, July 15, 2015
To inspire, engage and connect with a new generation of artists, visitors and youth, Gettysburg National Military Park, established an “Artists in Residency” program this summer, hosting leading artists on the Gettysburg battlefield for month-long residencies from July through September. The program was created in cooperation with the non-profit National Parks Arts Foundation with the Gettysburg Foundation.
More information about Michelle Bonczek Evory and Rob Evory can be found at www.thepoetsbillow.org.