Phoebe Stone and Francois Clemmons: Reading and Conversation

Presented by the New England Review


Tuesday, Mar. 12 
7-9 pm

Two accomplished Middlebury artists, Phoebe Stone and Francois Scarborough Clemmons, will read from and discuss their memoirs-in-progress on Tuesday, March 12, at 7 pm, at Town Hall Theater. Readings from their work will be followed by an audience Q&A and a reception in the Jackson Gallery. Presented by New England Review, where both writers have recently published excerpts from their new work, and Town Hall Theater. Free and open to the public.

Stone has published numerous books for children and young adults, as well as having a long career as a painter. Her memoir has just begun to take shape in the form of brief vignettes. “When I was writing these memoir pieces,” she says, “I really took to the structure of it. I liked working in the solid realm of real memory. It was a kind of relief from the constraints of invention! But then I think, that all creative writing in a way is memoir, contorted, altered and transformed . . . but the base is always memoir. How can it be otherwise?”

Clemmons, who has recently been touring in connection with his role in the film Won’t You Be My Neighbor, where he talks about his transformational time as Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, has been at work on his own memoir for many years. Titled DivaMan: My Life in Song, his autobiography starts at the beginning, chronicling his early days in rural Alabama to singing with the Metropolitan Opera Studio, directing the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble, and beyond. The writing of this memoir has been a journey of its own. “The initial feeling was that I would write it but no one would ever read it,” he says. “I began to write and lo and behold the truth started coming out.”

Interviews with the authors and excerpts are posted online at the New England Review.

Phoebe Stone is a painter, poet, and author of seven novels for young adults—most recently Romeo Blue and The Boy on Cinnamon Street—and three picture books, including When the Wind Bears Go Dancing. Phoebe grew up in Vermont, in a family of poets and novelists, and has spent most of her life painting and writing. Before concentrating on creating books for children and young adults, Phoebe had a successful career as a fine art painter and exhibited her work in many museums and galleries all around New England and New York City. She is presently working on a series of memoir/short stories for a book.

François Scarborough Clemmons is an actor, activist, and writer who had a long career as an opera singer, performing with the New York City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and more. He created and played the role of Officer Clemmons on the children’s TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and founded and directed the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble. He was Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence at Middlebury College from 1997 to 2013, where he directed the Martin Luther King Spiritual Choir. He is currently working on a series of children’s books and a memoir, DivaMan: My Life in Song.

Published by Middlebury College, New England Review is a nationally recognized literary journal that cultivates artistic excellence and innovation in contemporary writing and engages readers deeply in the literary arts through its quarterly publication, dynamic web presence, and public reading series.