Greatest Generation Vet’s Life Featured at Free Poetry Reading

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 “…I’ll always have the leaf and bird,

the woods, the music, and the word,

The best a wounded man who loved

 could leave for those behind.”


Poet Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely will read from her book of poems Letter from Italy, 1944 in the Hubbard Room of Russell Library at 2 PM on Sunday, March 10.  She will present a selection from her cycle of poems that trace the arc of her soldier-father’s life.  The collection of poems was published several months ago by Antrim Press of Simsbury.

Chorale membership comes from 35 towns in Connecticut.

Nancy Meneely’s father, John K. Meneely, was 24 years old and newly graduated from Yale Medical School, when he joined the Army’s illustrious 10th Mountain Division.  After service in the Aleutians and Italy, he returned to his young family burdened with the aftermath of war now recognized as PTSD.  Some of his daughter’s poems are based on his letters home from the World War II battlefronts, while other poems recount the memories and perspectives of the soldier, of his daughter - the poet, her siblings and her mother.


            A poet all her life, Nancy Meneely is a graduate of Smith College who has taught at colleges and high schools, and worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  She retired to Guilford, Connecticut where she leads the Guilford Poets Guild and administers the annual Connecticut River Poetry Seminar for Frost Place alumni in New Hampshire.  She is also involved in the Guilford’s A Better Chance Program and in the town’s Human Services Council.  According to Maine’s 2000 Poet Laureate, Baron Wormser, “This book engages the most substantial human matters – war, love, grief, childhood – in poems that are astute, musical and full of the most perceptive feeling.”


            For the past two years, Nancy Meneely has collaborated with her sister, Grammy-nominee and composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder of Old Lyme, to create an oratorio also named “Letter from Italy, 1944.”  The libretto of this musical drama is drawn from a number of Meneely’s poems. 


            The Greater Middletown Chorale will give this new work its world premiere at Middletown High School on April 28, 2013.  The Chorale’s Artistic Director, Joseph D’Eugenio, will conduct the Chorale’s 80 voices, the orchestra and professional soloists in the dramatic, semi-staged production.


            Nancy Meneely’s presentation is the third in a series of presentations called Connecticut Community Conversations: “Letter from Italy, 1944” – a Generational Legacy that is funded by CT Humanities, the Tenth Mountain Division Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.  It is presented by The Greater Middletown Chorale, open to the public and is Free.


            For more information about this unique and timely project see www.letterfromitaly.com, www.gmchorale.org or call (860) 316-4854.


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