Digital Places of Interest

Friday, July 13, 2012

Post #7: A Glimpse of Gilmore: or, The Living Poets Society

Hey Folks! It's Friday, July 13th, and you know what that means: last night was Gilmore Thursday. (Actually, most of you wouldn't know. Why wouldn't I know that?)

Now, there are many of ways of thinking about Bread Loaf: Adult Camp for Nerds; Wicca for Literature Teachers; Rehab for Christian. Depending on the day (or night) each of those descriptions are apt. However, there is one night when all those descriptions seem to roll into one, (save the Rehab), when Bread Loaf-osity reaches its zenith, when one feels as if one has stepped out of reality and into a movie. The night is Thursday. The event is called "Gilmore." The movie--or film, if you prefer, and if you do, you're not only a nerd but a raging dork--is Dead Poets Society. 
Bright Young Scholars

"Gilmore Thursday" is a complex phenomenon. It not only refers to an event but to a place. Gilmore, you see, is a huge student house where typically young single men are stashed. It is the one of the most remote of the Bread Loaf student houses, located on a bumpy dirt road nearly a mile up from the Barn. The thinking was that a bunch of raging young single men would naturally want to engage in the serious study of literature so they kept them away from the drunken masses. (Or maybe I have that notion backwards). Gilmore is so remote that years ago some guy--a deranged local--killed someone--another deranged local--and dumped the body in the woods not far from the house. And for years, this is where Bread Loafers chose to gather on Thursday nights to listen to campfire stories and then drink themselves into oblivion. All in the name of literature!

Not surprisingly, this the man who started Gilmore. Here he is reflecting on the path of destruction left in his wake. 
Many years later, Gilmore Thursdays still exist, but they have evolved. Slightly. There is still the pre-Gilmore ritual in which Loafers exercise restraint in the consumption of alcohol. This restraint typically lasts 2 hours and results in Frisbees being flung at each others' faces. That's Gilmore Part I. 
Pre-Gilmore Ritual: imbibe spirits and then try to maintain this pose for six minutes without falling. 
Gilmore Part II is the Ingathering of English Nerds at John's Pond. This begins well after sunset and highlighted by the long walk to John's Pond located a football field's length behind the barn. Artificial torches  about calf-high light the path to John's Pond. If you stood back you would see a solemn procession of Loafers making there way to the pond, and by "solemn," I mean, "hammered."
Fellow Front Desk Maven and Poet, Peter Newton, beer in hand, near the bonfire at John's Pond.
This is how a master of the haiku hones his craft. 

At John's Pond, there is beer, tiki torches, and a respectable bonfire, (sorry, due to legal issues I must henceforth refer to any fires as "campfires.") The fire is where the Loafers gather around like Nerd Moths to the Flame to hear the readings. This is where Part III takes place. 

Part III is the reading of Ellen: The Whisperings of an Old Pine. It was written and self-published by Joseph Battell, the 19th century logging baron. Mr. Battell used his wealth to build the victorian homes that comprise the Bread Loaf campus. To honor his legacy, current Bread Loafers read excerpts from his book, which is pretty much awful times infinity, and as far as anyone can tell, concerns a thinly disguised romantic love affair between a man and pine tree. Named Ellen. Seriously. I wish I was joking. 

The Pre-Reading Ritual: Reading Excerpts from Ellen 

Love hurts.
Mr. Battell: landowner, tree humper.

Part IV is the Faculty Reading. The Faculty reading is often a light-hearted occasion wherein a faculty member reads anything they want by any author they want, even themselves. They are encouraged to be "free" with their reading, which, as Dr. Kirkland, this week's reader commented, usually means, "raunchy." And was it ever. I'd recap Dr. Kirkland's poems but this is a family-friendly blog. Let's just say that only 5% of heat at the readings was from the campfire. 

This man read poems about sex to English nerds. 
Do you think he enjoyed the reading? 
In addition to being a literature scholar, a poet, he also finished his 1st year of law school. While teaching at NYU. Oh yeah, he also played football for Michigan St. How do you feel about your manhood, now? 

Part V of Gilmore is simple. After the reading at the pond, the Bread Loafers help themselves to complimentary beverages, which are served from something called a "keg." (everything is so mysterious up here). Once those beverages run out--in approximately 7 minutes--the Loafers beat a hasty retreat up the road to the Gilmore house where there are more complimentary beverages served from "kegs" and the party continues. Or just starts for that matter. 

After the reading, the Bread Loafers make their way calmly to the party at Gilmore.  

And let us not forget Part VI of Gilmore: the morning after.

The way Bread Loafers often feel Friday morning. 

And that, folks, is what Gilmore Thursdays is about. There are many interpretations of Gilmore Thursday. For many, the Gilmore Thursday represents all that is awesome about Bread Loaf. For others it represents something possibly threatening to the sanctity of literary pursuits. For me, they are among the most indispensable elements of the Mountain Experience. 

Edward says I need to work on how I end my blog posts. He says I should listen to him because he's the "Blog Doctor." He's probably right. 

Christian Patrick Clarke
Front Desk Novitiate, 2012
Hic et Ubique

PS: See Photos of Wednesday night's Barn Trivia!

An example of Maven Gene's Trivia Questions:
"If a train leaving Moscow is carrying a group of literature students who are reading the Canterbury Tales to each other, and they have just finished reciting The Miller's Tale when their train strikes Anna Karenina, how many Tales will they have left to read while they wait for the tracks to be cleared?"
Typical Response to one of Gene's Trivia questions.
One faculty member commented on Trivia Night: "It was like a surreal version of game night at an old folks home." Yeah, I'll buy that.

"Talk to Daddy!" Edward Brown's typical response to any contestant who questioned the fairness of an answer. Unfortunately, for the contestant, "Talk to Daddy!" Was code for: "Shut the hell up!" 

Every time you hug a tree a billionaire republican develops gout.


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