Reservoir of Words: The Poetry Barn in West Hurley | Household Profiles | Hudson Valley


Throughout from the Ashokan Reservoir Spillway exactly where the watershed releases a deluge just about every spring, Lissa Kiernan and Chris Abramides have developed a household focused to their appreciate of poetry. Surrounded by Catskill woodlands, the four-acre property is a blended-use mashup involving the couple’s personalized house and their shared passion job: the Poetry Barn, a poetry library open up to the community for browsing and workshops. “Both of those the residence and the barn have a incredibly vibrant history,” describes Kiernan, who initial stumbled onto the property in 2015 when seeking for a spot to bodily manifest her online poetry community. “Genuinely, we bought a barn with a household hooked up to it, and the amazing panoramic sights don’t harm.”

Like a near-rhyming couplet, the couple’s mild-soaked modern day residence is paired with a vibrant barn housing Kiernan’s intensive poetry collection, an upstairs studio, and a area for workshops. The encompassing grounds incorporate writing and reading through areas for company, a hearth pit, and an abundance of normal inspiration. “It’s an enchanted forest,” states Kiernan. “I’ve heard it stated that sites that are on the edges of factors, that straddle distinctive ecosystems or habitats, are the most different in conditions of biodiversity, and that surely feels correct. Following it rains, the trees actually glow.”

click on to enlarge Opened in 2017 on Lissa Kiernan and Chris Abramides’s four-acre property, the Poetry Barn grew out of Kiernan’s popular poetry website and is open to the public. The barn also offers workshops, events, and ample space for members to work on projects. Currently, the space is showcasing a collection of photos by Dennis Kiernan, Lissa’s father, which are featured on either side of the windows. - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • Opened in 2017 on Lissa Kiernan and Chris Abramides’s four-acre assets, the Poetry Barn grew out of Kiernan’s common poetry web site and is open up to the community. The barn also presents workshops, occasions, and ample space for customers to do the job on projects. At the moment, the house is showcasing a collection of pictures by Dennis Kiernan, Lissa’s father, which are highlighted on both facet of the home windows.

Wild, Important Existence

Kiernan grew up in the Berkshires, wherever she produced her really like of poetry early in everyday living. Following large faculty, she moved to New York Metropolis to attend the New College and graduated in 1998 with a degree in media arts proper as the net was exploding. That led to a profession functioning for a variety of dot-coms, but she in no way forgot her early appreciate of words and phrases. “Poetry was normally at the back again of my head,” she describes. “But it was definitely on the back again burner for a extensive time.”

When her father was identified with a brain tumor in 2003 and then died within just four months, she commenced to reevaluate her priorities. It transpired to her that her like of poetry was a way to incorporate her grief. “I consider I was searching for an outlet for all that emotion,” she states. “And due to the fact it transpired so speedily it designed me feel about the time I experienced left.”

click on to enlarge Abramides’s and Kiernan’s contemporary cottage features a light soaked second floor living space with views to the neighboring mountain ranges. The two have decorated the space in a mix of styles. “It’s a work in progress, but the room is mid-modern leaning by design,” says Kiernan, here shown sitting on the couch. Along with antiques they’d collected over the years, the couple added pieces sourced from the former Scandinavian Grace on Route 28, Vintage Modern in Woodstock, and Lost & Found in Accord. On the wall behind the couch, artist Renee Zhang’s Ephemeral Layers was inspired by one of Kiernan’s poems. In the kitchen, Abramides looks through a window at the Catskills. - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • Abramides’s and Kiernan’s up to date cottage characteristics a gentle soaked second floor residing area with sights to the neighboring mountain ranges. The two have embellished the space in a combine of styles. “It’s a work in development, but the area is mid-modern day leaning by layout,” suggests Kiernan, in this article demonstrated sitting on the sofa. Along with antiques they’d collected around the yrs, the few additional items sourced from the previous Scandinavian Grace on Route 28, Vintage Present day in Woodstock, and Shed & Uncovered in Accord. On the wall guiding the couch, artist Renee Zhang’s Ephemeral Layers was encouraged by a single of Kiernan’s poems. In the kitchen area, Abramides appears to be like by means of a window at the Catskills.

Kiernan enrolled in the Stonecoast MFA software in artistic writing at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Her time there led to her cross-genre prose perform Glass Needles & Goose Quills, which explores the relationship between her father’s demise and environmental destruction. Immediately after graduating in 2011, Kiernan decided to place her two degrees together—combining her technical techniques and web-site-constructing practical experience with her crafting qualities, and commenced featuring on line poetry workshops.

After that, “It truly just caught on,” she describes of the on the web venture that started out as a private invitational room where people today could add performs and attended on line workshops. “Persons fashioned connections and then they started to ask if we could fulfill in individual,” she claims. The timing coincided with Abramides’s retirement and her rising need to go away Brooklyn. They realized the Hudson Valley would be the excellent position to try out their poetic experiment.

Cottage Business

simply click to enlarge The open barn doors offer views to the surrounding woods and glimpses of the Ashokan Spillway. Originally constructed by Khem Caigan, the barn once served as the Harry Everett Smith Memorial Library. The oak tree installation on the front-facing wall was created by artist AnneLouise Burns and features names of project donors. - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • The open up barn doorways offer you views to the encompassing woods and glimpses of the Ashokan Spillway. Initially manufactured by Khem Caigan, the barn as soon as served as the Harry Everett Smith Memorial Library. The oak tree set up on the entrance-experiencing wall was established by artist AnneLouise Burns and features names of task donors.

Staying with buddies, they began scouring the spot for a house where by they could manifest their individual eyesight of a live-work place. “The primary prerequisite was that the house have a barn that could be transformed into a poetry center, or at least experienced land to create on,” Kiernan states. She set up an Indiegogo marketing campaign to enable fund the task and targeted her attentions on Dutchess County, which appealed both equally simply because of its pastoral landscape and its proximity to the rail line. On the other hand, there had been no houses that fit their vision. Then, a single weekend, inspiration struck.

“I didn’t have any appointments in Dutchess, so I did a Zillow lookup of the place all over the reservoir, which we’d just learned by driving all around,” Kiernan remembers. “I stumbled across a listing that bundled a image of a barn with its doors partly open up. I could see bright yellow bookshelves inside of and just understood it would be the foreseeable future Poetry Barn.”

click to enlarge The barn’s second floor includes a large open space. This year, Kiernan is offering the workspace, which includes a bed, for a week-long residency through the Aim Higher Foundation. - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • The barn’s second flooring includes a substantial open area. This year, Kiernan is featuring the workspace, which incorporates a bed, for a week-prolonged residency by the Aim Greater Foundation.

They’d been organizing to make one thing very similar from scratch, but it seemed what they ended up imagining was already created. Kiernan and Abramides went to see the property and realized they’d found precisely what they’d envisioned. “When I walked in I could not imagine how excellent it was, how significantly love had previously been poured into it. And from the residence, the perspective, specifically of Higher Point mountain, was just spectacular.”

Kiernan before long figured out the property’s colourful historical past. Created in 1979, the property was the residence of the operators of Su Casa. “It was a summer time vacation resort reported to be a swingers and nudist hotspot in the `70s and `80s,” Kiernan explains.

simply click to enlarge WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

The barn was actually designed in 2007 by Khem and Emily Caigan to provide as yet another sort of library. “Mr. Caigan labored as assistant to Harry Everett Smith, an critical figure in the Beat scene,” states Kiernan. “The barn then operated as the Harry Everett Smith Memorial Library and integrated hundreds of guides on the occult, alchemy, Kabbalah, astrology, and tarot.” Soon after acquiring the residence, the barn remained off restrictions for a several months even though the uncommon e-book collection was inventoried and then transported to a Masonic temple in Maine.

Inside Structure Villanelle

In the meantime, Kiernan and Abramides focused on turning the 1,650-square-foot residence into their new nest. “When we moved in, the vibe was pretty boho, with the unfinished ceiling beams and a slap-dash, partly stuccoed brick wall at the rear of the wooden stove,” she states. The pair remaining the ceiling beams unfinished but repainted the open up-thought inside to give the space a more cohesive and mild-washed ambiance.

simply click to enlarge Kiernan’s clawfoot tub is one of her favorite features of the main house. The space looks - out over the backyard—once part of the Su - Casa nudist and swingers resort. “A woman in my Brooklyn poetry group had been a guest there,” says Kiernan. “She blushed when she told me and made me swear not to tell her daughter.” - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • Kiernan’s clawfoot tub is a single of her favorite functions of the principal house. The house looksout more than the backyard—once component of the SuCasa nudist and swingers resort. “A girl in my Brooklyn poetry team experienced been a guest there,” suggests Kiernan. “She blushed when she advised me and created me swear not to inform her daughter.”

With home windows in all four instructions, the next-flooring dwelling house usually takes full gain of its views. “We appreciate 180-degree sights of the Shawangunks and Catskills, but primarily the Burroughs Variety, such as Slide Mountain,” says Kiernan. Adjacent to the major residing room, two decks allow the few the probability to enjoy the views in the warmer months. They worked with Ben Bowers of Ben Bowers Development in Saugerties to replace the rotting wooden with Trex decking. The residing area also features the key bedroom and a bath with a clawfoot tub. Two further bedrooms and a bath are outfitted for guests to use on the very first ground, which also properties Abramides’s office.

Through the home’s interior, Kiernan’s poetic decorating type is on entire screen. “Color is pretty critical to me,” she clarifies. “I like to hook up disparate models by coloration, form, texture, and repetition. I delight in similar objects in distinct contexts.” A portray in the entrance functions Kiernan’s childhood household in the Berkshires, but is also remarkably similar to the check out appropriate outside the house the entrance door. An antique Japanese rice paper wallet and a piece of McCoy pottery on show in the living home are equally also depicted in a portray by artist Nancy Hagin. In the couple’s bedroom, a collection of landscape paintings echo the mountain see by means of the bedroom window. A extensive, 1st-flooring hallway features Abramides’s selection of Wallace Nutting and Nutting-like hand-tinted art photographs.

click to enlarge The view of the house and barn from the driveway entrance. Working with Bill Stack of Mountain Garden Landscaping in Woodstock, the couple installed a bluestone patio connecting the two buildings as well as new bluestone steps. Stack also replaced the stone retaining walls throughout the property. Karin Ursula Landscapes created the garden beds - WINONA BARTON-BALLENTINE

  • Winona Barton-Ballentine
  • The check out of the house and barn from the driveway entrance. Performing with Monthly bill Stack of Mountain Yard Landscaping in Woodstock, the few installed a bluestone patio connecting the two properties as effectively as new bluestone ways. Stack also replaced the stone retaining partitions all through the residence. Karin Ursula Landscapes established the yard beds

When the few had been ready to get possession of the barn, they desired to stay legitimate to its original design and style, but include additional poetry-welcoming updates. They stored the barn’s yellow, red, black, and white painted walls, which were being decided on by Caigan to signify both the four humors and the four seasons. “He floor the colors for them himself and sourced the ceiling’s amazing blue pigment from Germany,” claims Kiernan.

The couple did incorporate home windows to the house as well as a big rolling ladder to make the considerable poetry assortment a lot more obtainable. Kiernan also commissioned the artist AnneLouise Burns to develop an oak tree sculptural installation with the names of donors who aided make the place achievable.


Given that its opening in 2017, the Poetry Barn has steadily attained a loyal adhering to, even in spite of the pandemic. “My main hope is that people will continue on to explore the Poetry Barn and acquire benefit of its library,” claims Kiernan, who is particularly psyched to hear when folks make pilgrimages to the house.

As effectively as her typical customers, she and her library have connected would-be poets, engaged partners, and even the brokenhearted with the actual proper text, organized in the actual way they need to have at the time. “I like getting in a position to do that—pair poems with individuals,” claims Kiernan. “There is one thing lifetime-switching about discovering that poem that speaks to you at the specific time you want to read through or hear it.”

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