"Whispers of Poetry in Amherst: A Rural Symphony Unveiled

My recent days have been woven into the quiet tapestry of Amherst, Massachusetts, where the poet John Hennessy, a dear friend, resides. Nestled in the embrace of nature, he teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His home, just a few rural miles away from the campus, unveils a landscape painted with serenity. From his second-floor balcony, the gaze meets meadows adorned with grazing cows, a pastoral scene that stretches to hills cloaked in forest hues. A few miles, indeed, define rural tranquility.

On this canvas of rural life, the spectacle of dawn unfolds in diverse emotions. Some mornings, late October gifts a sunrise adorned with bright red streaks, gently caressing the hill's crest. At times, a somber mood prevails, as rain clouds weave into misty curtains. Today, an unexpected visitor arrived – wet snow in late October, a testament to the shifting whispers of climate change, notes John.

As the day matures, the mist retreats, revealing a landscape adorned with the subdued palette of fall colors. The meadow wears a gentle green, cows bow heads to scroll through dew-laden grass diligently, and the solitary house becomes a focal point on this canvas. Amherst, a name echoing in my memory for over three decades, initially surfaced through Amherst College, where I sought admission as an undergraduate transferring from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.

Amherst College's rejection redirected my academic journey, but fate, it seems, has its way of intertwining lives. John, who had his own tale of rejection from Amherst, now shares his days in this picturesque town. Together, we explore Book Mill, a charming bookshop with a streamside café, wander through Emily Dickinson's house turned museum, and delve into the W E B Du Bois Library. Here, amidst Du Bois' profound quotes and captivating photographs, I find myself contemplating the irony embedded in his words.

As our days unfold, we plan to visit Amherst College, capturing a moment frozen in time – a photograph that could be captioned as 'What Amherst College missed' or 'What we missed.' The essence of Amherst, poetic and serendipitous, lingers in the air, whispering tales of rejection turned into a symphony of discovery and camaraderie."

"Whispers of Poetry in Amherst: An Unveiling of Serendipity

Attempting to encapsulate the rich tapestry of institutions like UMass (1863), Amherst College (1821), or the town of Amherst itself (1759) in a mere blurb would indeed be an impossible task. Yet, amidst the historical echoes of these venerable entities, a different story emerges – an Amherst-Sri Lanka narrative.

Enter John the Poet, as fondly referred to by my sister, residing in a small house that defies its modest size by cradling an abundance of poetry. In the span of a few days spent here, John has become the recipient of a steady influx of poetry books, often periodicals where his contributions as a poet, translator, or editor find their place. Stories about poets and poetry dance in the air, forming an unwritten article titled 'John Hennessy, Poets, and Poetry,' a piece that may forever elude my pen.

Yet, there's one anthology that demands acknowledgment – 'Out of Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhala & English Poetry from Sri Lanka and its Diaspora.' Among the myriad poets featured, I found myself flipping open the pages to a random poem. To my delight, it was penned by Ruwan Bandujeewa, my favorite contemporary Sinhala poet, translated by none other than Chamini Kulathunga. Memories flooded back as I recalled meeting Chamini during her undergraduate days at the University of Colombo, where her interest in literary translation, particularly the works of Mahagama Sekera, shone through. Fast forward over five years, and here I was, texting her from Amherst. Serendipitously, she replied, 'I'm in Amherst as well.'

Our rendezvous unfolded at the Du Bois library, a meeting point chosen by sheer chance. Conversations unfolded like a stroll among poets, delving into poetry, script-writing, theater productions, and the intricate tapestry of academic life. Amherst, it seemed, was a haven for serendipity.

Now, as the clock strikes past midnight, the hills in the distance reveal their silhouette. A gentle mist carpets the valley, and a lone streetlamp casts a circle of light on the road below. Amherst, in its silent, rural poetry, stands as a lovely haven to visit. As I reflect on these moments, I can't help but feel that Amherst, with its quiet charm, has etched a poetic chapter into the narrative of my journey.

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"In the hushed hours of midnight, Amherst unveils its poetic essence – a serene landscape where rural simplicity and unexpected encounters intertwine. The hills, veiled in mist, and the solitary streetlamp casting its glow on a quiet road encapsulate the magic of this town. Amherst, with its historical institutions and the magnetic pull of its poetry-filled abode, whispers tales of serendipity and camaraderie.

As I pen down these reflections, the echoes of poets and the cadence of conversations linger in the air. Amherst, a sanctuary of quiet charm, has become a chapter in my journey, a testament to the profound connections woven amid its poetic tapestry. The story continues, carrying the spirit of Amherst's silent beauty and the unexpected harmonies of a rural symphony."

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