Fighting PTSD Through Poetry

Oil and water may not mix, but war and poetry?

For one veteran of numerous combat engagements -- in Vietnam, the Falklands, Afghanistan and elsewhere -- his own poetry helped him emerge from the abyss of post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

That warrior’s dramatic and unsettling poems, plus the PTSD experiences of two local residents who faced the bloodshed of Vietnam, constitute “Their War Never Ends,” an evening of readings and discussions about PTSD here at The House on Wednesday, August 10th, starting at 7pm.

The poet is Col. John Vidal, a special forces officer whose mostly covert role took him around the world for nearly 35 years. His surviving wife, Constance Slater, says “he would wake up with nightmares” and “wouldn’t recognize me,” because “I was the enemy!” To help, Slater handed him a notebook and pen, demanding he write about his innermost demons. The result is an extraordinary posthumous volume of John Vidal’s poems -- “...and the Blood Won’t Come Off” -- which Slater herself spent years editing, and has just published. She will read extended selections from the book at the August event.

Also speaking will be Vietnam combat vets -- and Catskills residents -- Charlie Breiner and Gary Zellweger, both delving into their own unique PTSD experiences. Breiner was part of the infantry’s famous Americal Division, quartered in the Duc Pho area, in 1967-68 and including the massive Tet Offensive. Zellweger was sent to Vietnam as a draftee in 1968 for his own stretch of hard-combat duty, and returned home facing a lengthy aftermath of emotional turmoil.

Garbage! Junk! Trash! Art!!!

Be THIS art?
People often ask, “What is art?” The answer, starting July 17th at The Old Stone House of Hasbrouck, is: “Who cares?”

That’s when a new “art” exhibit begins, featuring every terrible painting, dreadful photo and sleazy sculpture unearthed during this year’s spring cleaning.

“We tidied the attic, straightened the basement and emptied the closets,” said Alana Sherman, President of The House, “and found dozens of unsold -- and unwanted -- artworks left behind from decades of exhibitions.” Some of them “could be considered mediocre,” she said, “and a surprising number are of the highest quality and certainly deserve a good home.“ But many were left in dusty storage “because, well, nobody wanted to ever see them again.”

Nevertheless, since the proverb says “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” The House will let the public view this odd collection, all quite properly hung for display, and make an independent determination of quality. Opening day visitors can also enjoy a reception offering wine and snacks guaranteed to counter-balance the calibre of the art.

The show -- “Garbage! Junk! Trash! Art!!! -- will run either until the end of August, or until every last work has been purchased by an unsuspecting or visually challenged collector.

The first-day Sunday reception runs from 1-4 pm and, since it precedes by one day the opening of the Republican National Convention, political discussions will be permitted only if they don’t interfere with erudite artistic conversations.

For more information, contact Alana Sherman at (845) 436-0070, or by email at