Top 10 Ideas For Our Town

We asked our audience at AmherstLive’s Winter Edition for their uncensored ideas to improve our small town of Amherst.  And boy did we get ideas!  And boy did we have to censor them!  Oliver and Baer talked about a few of them on stage, but we thought we’d grab ten of them and list ’em here.   The thing about these ideas is that many of them don’t take any large governmental action, don’t require massive funding, just need some passionate folks to get together and make magic happen!  Any takers?

1. Popup Cocktail Bar – much like a roving food truck, but taking advantage of different empty and freaky spaces, create a magical environment, add some live jazz, and serve stupendous cocktails.

2. Crank up The Amherst Poetry Festival – If nothing else, Amherst creates poetry.  Last fall’s inaugural Amherst Poetry Festival on Emily’s birthday was a wonderful start.  Let’s crank this baby up!

3. Ice Skating Rink on The Common – We got this idea repeatedly from lots of folks.

4. A Real Parking Garage –  Some folks want to drive, others want to kill cars, some want to encourage walking and biking, some want to save the earth, some want to be able to visit a restaurant.  Whatever the reason, the best way to get folks to start an argument in Amherst is to talk parking.

5. Teenager/Elder Program – Pair teenagers in every neighborhood with elders – they would meet once/week – maybe just chat, maybe shovel snow, eat cookies, etc.  Maybe get the Senior Center and ARHS/ARMS working together!

6. Sidewalk Cafes – Open the sidewalks in town for outside tables and restaurants so that more people can enjoy our beautiful town while having a drink.

7. Two words: Public Pianos.

8. Downtown music/performance venue – There’s really no venue downtown where you can go to hear music, or catch a play.  What’s up with that?

9. Summer Community Dance – A summer family oriented festival on the Common.  Cow chip bingo, music, hayrides, chalk art, pie contest, pig roast, vintage car trophies, superman dress up, toilet bowl race, all culminating in a old-school dance to a live band.

10. Annual Dog Parade – So many dogs, no parade.


Chocolate Peach

We’ve got our finger on the pulse for all our peeps. Here’s our pick of the week for music shows in our valley. Which means if you can only get out to one show, here’s where it’s at. Friday at Bishop’s Lounge in NoHo, Chocolate Peach layin’ down the groove. 10pm. $5. Get yo funk on with a nice cocktail. These guys will get you movin’ with yo lady or man in a sweet small homie cocktail bar.

Amherst Live Poetry Prize Winner

by Lynne Francis

Our daughter has come on the train
from New York with a pomegranate tart
in her lap.  She bursts into the kitchen bearing
it up – a crown of snowy ermine ringed
in garnet jewels.  Her hands, still stained a startling, irridescent pink
from shimmying seeds out of pale catacombs, peek out
from last year’s coat sleeves.

She lays the beautiful thing on the counter with relief
and before we kiss hello, we coo
over its stunning architecture, the surreal look of perfect
ruby seeds pressed against the sides of a snow bank
of cream cheese, eggs and sugar.  The flat center looks like a rink
before the skaters arrive – glassy, unetched, pristine.

The oven in her Hell’s Kitchen walk-up is small and unreliable.
Her counter is a drawing board laid over the bathroom sink.  How
did this miraculous thing emerge from that kitchen
looking like something from Saveur? How did it survive
the cab ride at 6 a.m., the ticket line at Penn Station, the jostling
for a seat and the unexpected change to a shuttle in Hartford?

The old centerpiece is whisked away. We make room for this gift from
the eldest daughter, distant sister, who in years past
stayed in the City or just brought wine.

Amherst Live Poetry Prize Finalist

by Beth Filson

God rolled the world around in Her mouth like butterscotch candy.
It was so good, so sweet, She hated to spit it out, but when She did –

This is the world that was made:
Two people walking on the bluff,
a dog to give them grace.

Then God slung the blue heron out
over the marsh at high tide to give the world its heart.
The marsh grass knitted its long fingers together
and the shrimp were made, and many small birds went out
into the sky.

Tall grass hid
the kindling spirit, raccoons, opossums, deer.
Low tide revealed our earthen homes: blue crabs, flounder,
oysters with their wet tongues.


IMG_0551 Our second edition of Amherst Live is in the books! Thanks to all our neighbors who came out on a snowy New England eve to connect over black holes, wolves, roads, farming, great music and beers, poetry, and of course, merging back into Hadley.

Keep an eye out here over the next few weeks as we’ll be posting some of the wondrous poems submitting for the Amherst Live Poetry Prize, as well as more of the visionary and weird audience ideas for making Amherst a smarter, more tingly place to live.  Including some of the more, um, interesting ideas that came up during last night’s After-Party at the High Horse.  But most importantly thanks to all of you for making our small town such a bucket full of awesome!

Poetry Finalists Announced!

Congratulations to Lynne Francis (Hatfield) and Beth Filson (Easthampton)! Lynne and Beth are Amherst Live‘s first Poetry Prize finalists. One poem by each finalist will be recited on stage at the January 25, 2014 show. The audience will decide the winner. 

Beth and Lynne’s poems were selected with great difficulty. The talent and passion on display among the many submissions we received was staggering. Among these, we’d like to acknowledge five runners-up:

Emily Bloch (Shutesbury)
Dan Chelotti (Easthampton)
Carol Connare (Amherst)
Daniel Hales (Greenfield)
Jonathan Tucker (Florence)

Submissions for the Winter 2014 Amherst Live poetry prize are now closed. Please check back or sign up for our emails to be alerted to the next submission period.

Tickets on sale now!

Amherst Live is back with its new and improved format, featuring everything you need to know about what’s going on around town—nature, science, politics—plus local tunes by singer/songwriter Dennis Crommett, and two finely honed talks guaranteed to change the way you view the town you thought you knew. Also: the debut of the Amherst Live Poetry Prize—to be adjudicated by the audience! Come for the content; stick around for the conversation (and the beverages).

Tickets for Amherst Live sell out fastPick up your tickets today, and join us on Saturday, January 25th, at the Kirby Theater on the Amherst College Campus. Drinks begin at 6:30pm with hand-crafted brews courtesy of High Horse Brewery. Show starts at 7:30pm.

And be sure not to miss future shows: Sign up HERE to be notified when tickets are available.