Wintonbury Poetry Series

Spark your creativity, make connections, and share the gift of poetry! The P. Faith McMahon Wintonbury Library offers readings by notable poets and a warm, supportive atmosphere for sharing your own work. Everyone is welcome!

The Wintonbury Poetry Series and Open Mic is held at the McMahon Wintonbury Library on the third Thursday of the month, October – April, at 7:00 PM. Poetry writing workshops are offered in May.

Residents of Bloomfield and surrounding communities are invited to submit their poetry for consideration to appear on the library’s Poetry Sharing Page.

Winter/Spring 2019 Schedule


Thursday, February 21, 7:00 PM

“Poetry at Work, Poetry at Play”
Featuring Iris Arenson-Fuller and Steve Olechna
poet Iris Arenson-Fuller

Iris Arenson-Fuller has been a poet/writer almost her entire life. She was presented with a poetry award by Langston Hughes a few years before his death and promised him that she would never stop writing. She was published in various anthologies and magazines as a teenager and young woman. Then family care giving and directing the adoption agency she founded and ran for decades, caused her to take a detour until the last couple of years. She kept her promise to Mr. Hughes and continued to write, but never as much as she wanted to do during those years. Iris is also a Life and Loss Transformation/Life Reinvention Coach. She is a parent by birth and adoption and a grandmother. Her poetry has appeared in Story Bleed Magazine, Esme, Compass Magazine, Omen, a Feminist Anthology, Jewish Literary Journal, Into the Void, Issues, An Online Compendium by Bob Vance of Pearlfire Press, and others. She has written many articles for a variety of adoption-related and professional coaching magazines, and on line publications, including Felicity Huffman’s, What the Flicka. Her poetry will soon be appearing in Scottie Tails Magazine. She enjoys doing poetry readings as well.

poet Steve Olechna

Steve Olechna incorporates performance art and storytelling into his poetry. His signature poem, Juggling Four Kids, is performed while juggling four balls. His Poetry in Motion presentation, rich with audience participation, is popular with elementary schools and senior groups. He has published anthologies for these groups as well as having served as editor and publisher of the Faxon Poets Perspectives I – XI annual anthologies. In addition to his job in Technology, he is president and owner of Supertivity®, LLC., a start-up side business focused on publishing, brand entertainment and promotion, and creative risk management. He has published sci-fi and superhero comic books, had his risk management sculptures displayed at DaDa art exhibits in Hartford, CT, performed as a game show host for his customized Match Game gameshow and performed as an Elvis impersonator, in full white Vegas jumpsuit, at Hartford’s Infinity Hall (search on “Elvis Olechna” on YouTube).


Thursday, March 21, 7:00 PM

“A Master of Rhyme and a Bloomfield Poetry Organizer”
Featuring John P. Kneal & Marilyn Johnston
poet John P. Kneal

John P. Kneal, pen name for John A. Willoughby, has had over 75 poems published in poetry journals, anthologies, company newsletters, and public web sites. His first book of poetry, Everyday Poems, was published in late 2017. Samples of his work are also available for your viewing and listening pleasure at www.JohnPKneal.com. Besides poems, John also writes novels and wisdom tidbits. He is an avid bridge player, tickles the ivory, pumps iron, and regularly takes the body for walks, swims, or cross-country skis. He has worked for many years with various large insurance companies. He and his wife have three grown children and a granddaughter, and reside in Suffield, CT.

Marilyn Johnston is the author of two full collections of poetry, Silk Fist Songs and Weight of the Angel published by Antrim House Books.Her chapbook, Against Disappearance was published by Redgreene Press, Pittsburgh. Her work has garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations and has appeared in numerous journals, including South Carolina Review, Worcester Review, Rattle, bottle rockets, and Poet Lore.  Marilyn is co-founder of the popular Wintonbury Poetry Reading Series in the Bloomfield Libraries, a series she directed for twenty years and which is still ongoing under the capable hands of Tom Nicotera. Marilyn retired from the library in 2017. Six of her poems will soon appear in an anthology entitled, Shadows From Unfinished Things, forthcoming from QTR Books.

Joan Hofmann has been rescheduled for December 19.


Thursday, April 18, 7:00 PM

“A Connecticut State Poet Laureate”
Featuring Rennie McQuilkin
poet Rennie McQuilkin

Rennie McQuilkin served as CT Poet Laureate from 2015-2018. He co-founded the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, which he directed for 9 years. His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, The American Scholar, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, and other publications. The author of several poetry collections, he has received a number of awards, including fellowships from the NEA and the CT Commission on the Arts, the CT Center for the Book’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and its 2010 poetry award. He lives in Bloomfield, CT.


Poetry Writing Workshops

Led by James Finnegan

Thursday, May 9, 6:30-8:00 PM

Ten-Thousand Things is how the ancient Chinese defined the universe. In this workshop we attempt to make a poem from one thing, one object, one physical form in the universe. 

Thursday, May 16, 6:30-8:00 PM

Since the advent of photography and then film, for better or for worse, the image has become a central feature of modernist poetics. In this workshop we attempt to make a poem centered on one stunning image, the “telling detail.”


Poet Jim Finnegan

James Finnegan’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as in the anthologies Good Poems: American Places and Laureates of Connecticut. With Dennis Barone he edited Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens. He is the president of the Friends & Enemies of Wallace Stevens (stevenspoetry.org). His aphoristic ars poetica can be found at the blog ursprache (ursprache.blogspot.com).