Oh How Can I Keep On Singing

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Start Date: Apr 16 2009
Location: Sawyer Free Library



Oh How Can I Keep On Singing

An evening of poetry, photography and song inspired by a collection of poems that record the voices of 19th century pioneer women as they and their families homesteaded the Okanogan Valley of Washington state, will be the subject of a Gloucester Lyceum/Sawyer Free Library program on Thursday evening, April 16th at 7 p.m. at the Library, 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester. The event, ‘Oh How Can I Keep On Singing:’ Voices of Pioneer Women, celebrates National Poetry Month and is free of charge.

Based on reminiscences by the women themselves that poet Jana Harris uncovered in old newspaper accounts dating from the 1880’s, the poems relate the harsh physical lives endured by these early settlers as they attempted to settle the fertile Okanogan River valley. Enticed by the prospects of free farmland and clean, dry air, they were often unprepared for the hardships and suffering that accompanied daily living. Because it is unusual for historical accounts of this period to be told by women, Harris decided to turn their stories into poems to honor the spirit, quiet courage and stoicism of these women. Her book, ‘Oh How Can I Keep On Singing’ was published for the centennial of what the homesteaders came to call the ‘cattle-killing’ winter of 1889-90.

The Library program will be performed by Kathleen Adams, Barbara Braver, Geraldine Herbert and Kristina Martin and introduced by Jill Carter. Photographs of the Okanogan Valley taken by noted, local photographer Susan Oleksiw during her visit to the area last summer will be on display in the Matz Gallery. She will speak of her impressions during the presentation. The public is cordially invited.