Noepe Center for Literary Arts: A Still Place for Flowing Creativity

In the Wampanoag language, the word “noepe” means, according to one interpretation, a still place among the currents. The Wampanoag people gave the name Noepe to this Island to indicate that it was a piece of dry land among opposing tidal currents.

In downtown Edgartown, a still place exists at the intersection of three roads. It is a refuge of sorts, which has for years provided shelter and peace of mind to visiting artists.

Creative Foundation at Cleaveland House

The Cleaveland House Poetry Group was founded over 40 years ago by Dionis Coffin Riggs, its name arising from her house in West Tisbury where the meetings are held. It is the longest running writers group on Martha’s Vineyard, hosting bi-weekly meetings, year-round. Today Dionis’ daughter, Cynthia Riggs, presides over the group, and the meetings are still held at the same location.

The Lonely Days Are Gone, My Baby Printed Me a Letter

When most guests sit down to a dinner at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark, they usually glance at the menu and then set it down again, absentmindedly imprinting it with grease and wine stains. But the more discerning will notice that the seemingly disposable item is actually a work of art — the design is innovative, the words have been selected for sound and form, and the ink has been elegantly fused with the paper.

Poem: For Maya

Dipping our bread in oil tins

we talked of morning peeling

open our rooms to a moment

of almonds, olives and wind

when we did not yet know what we were.

The days in Mallorca were alike:

footprints down goat-paths

from the beds we had left,

at night the stars locked to darkness.

At that time we were learning

to dance, take our clothes

in our fingers and open

ourselves to their hands.

The veranera was with us.

Gifts for All, Good Tidings for Island

M enemsha was all hunkered down

’Twas quiet like all Chilmark town

In winter when it’s cold — and snow

Is falling as all folk do know

And Dutcher Dock is still — except

For Scott McDowell who’s so deft

At making copper fish to sell

For he must pound and tap as well

To make his fish come out just right.

His cod and sole are quite a sight.

Few boats are tied up at the dock

And so it came as quite a shock

To Santa Claus to see bright lights

For Copper of Chilmark

A copper-white streak across the field,

Darting through dunes, power to wield . . .

A Brittany spaniel at home on the moors

Not of French, but Vineyard shores.

Like a king atop ridges he’d survey his land,

Alert ears, tail — and again sail the sand.

When he did pause and gaze with amber eyes

Upon those he loved, with his soul so wise . . .

’Twas clear Copper to no other could compare:

Alley’s General Store

Alley’s General Store

In times of yore, one humble store

Sustained our tiny town.

‘Twas not the kind where one might find

A fancy evening gown.

Instead, our needs — from nails to seeds —

Were modest as the dickens,

And Nancy Luce had little use

For lipstick on her chickens.

These wooden walls held overalls

To fit most any size;

Gifts for All, Good Tidings for Island

In Tisbury town on Church street,

the traffic all was stuck

So those who’d gone on shopping sprees

were clearly out of luck.

They grumped and groaned and left their cars,

And some among them longed for bars

Though they could find right many a snack,

To soothe frayed tempers, but — alack —

There was no wine or beer for sale,

Only soft drinks like ginger ale.

Since by one vote the town decreed

It did not want — it did not need

Message To A Widow

Message To A Widow

In a small, protected inlet of the evening pond,

loud white in a strong shaft of final, flaming sun,

one swan lies on quiet water,

(not the two of daily habit),

head buried into breast,

asleep on the movement of a gentle swell.

It is as though this radiant path of sun

were heaven sent

specifically,

to sanctify,

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Eighteen eider ducks

are swimming in the sun

from Vineyard Haven’s harbor

on their lighthouse run

underneath our dock and by

our bright sand cove

they pause to feed, then spin and

dance in pairs, as if in love

with the freezing winter weather

come too soon: November, first

plunging from Indian summer

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