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July 9, 2020
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Clinton Poet Laureate Pat Barone is also a visual artist was well as appreciator of the arts in general. She’s looking forward to the 2020 Clinton Art Gallery Sunday Series, which will run from April to November which she is already busy coordinating. 

Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Clinton Poet Laureate Pat Barone is also a visual artist was well as appreciator of the arts in general. She’s looking forward to the 2020 Clinton Art Gallery Sunday Series, which will run from April to November which she is already busy coordinating. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)

Pat Barone Promotes Verse—and Other Arts—as Clinton’s Poet Laureate

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Patricia Barone, or Pat for short, has always been intrigued by art. Last year when the Clinton Sustainability Committee was interested in starting an arts council, some members began looking for someone who is well versed in poetry and could be named as the town’s poet laureate. Pat agreed to take on the position and was formally recognized by the town’s Board of Selectmen who appointed her to a three-year term as the poet laureate.

“For me it’s all about promoting the recognition of arts and the promotion of poetry,” Pat explains.

As part of the conditions of her position, Pat must make two public appearances per year and work on engaging some of the other artistically inclined people in the community.

“It’s all a part of Clinton’s efforts to promote the arts. The whole shoreline is rife with them,” Pat says.

Pat makes most of her public appearances in Clinton at the Clinton Arts Gallery, which is a non-profit co-op art gallery located downtown.

“I’m the coordinator of the Clinton Art Gallery’s Sunday Series,” Pat says.

The series runs from April to November each year and features poetry performed by different artists. Pat says the event is an open mic event that allows people to share their original works.

“It’s a wonderful time to get together in an art setting,” Pat says.

The series is a popular one, and Pat already has a schedule for the series in 2020. The series will begin on April 26 with readings by Margaret Gibson, the poet laureate of Connecticut.

Clinton isn’t the only local place Pat can be found reading poetry. Pat is a member of the Connecticut River Poets, a group of poets from the region that gather together to share their own poetry works.

“We get together once a month to critique each other’s works. We’re always supportive of each other, but honest, too,” Pat says with a smile.

Pat jokes that her love of poetry comes with the territory of being a retired English teacher. Pat had a long career in the business world, but says she believes she always wanted to be a teacher at heart. Later in life, Pat became an English teacher at Branford High School.

“I loved it. I was happy to get into it and happy when I left it,” Pat says.

Naturally as part of her curriculum, she taught a program that focused on poetry.

Pat was able to combine her two loves of teaching and art when she served as docent at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven. As a docent, Pat gave tours and answered questions about the permanent collections as well as the special exhibits that would come to the center. Pat describes herself as being well versed in art history, so working at the museum that boasts thousands of works of art was a thrill for her.

“I really enjoyed it,” says Pat. “I loved when I got to do research for the special exhibits.”

Since her retirement from teaching, Pat has kept busy with three main hobbies: gardening, writing, and painting. Pat is in the works of composing her first book that will feature a collection of more than 50 of her own poems. There is no publication date set yet, but it’s in the editing process.

A visitor to Pat’s home might notice that her living room is adorned with several canvas paintings, most of which depict nature scenes. Pat says that she picked up painting since her retirement from teaching and that despite her knowledge of art history, actually creating the art is not an easy feat.

“It’s a whole new ballgame holding the brush yourself,” jokes Pat.

For inspiration in her writings and paintings, Pat uses the nature she can see near her house.

“I live right on the river and it informs my writing and painting. It’s very much a part of me as an artist and as a person,” says Pat.

Pat was born in San Francisco and lived there until she was 11, when her family moved to Seattle, where she lived until she moved cross-country via Greyhound bus to New York.

After living in Brooklyn for several years, Pat moved to Clinton in 1973.

“I’m not a native, but I’m getting there,” Pat jokingly says.

Pat says she liked that Clinton was close to the river and was a beautiful town.

“It was kind of a culture shock. I’d never lived in a city with less than a million people. Now you couldn’t drag me back,” says Pat.

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