Announcing the So Say We All Gary Armstrong Memorial Veteran Writers Scholarship, which will be offered to a veteran for each of our master classes, including this weekend’s “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing)” with Jac Jemc. Apply now: the extended deadline is Thursday 9/7 at noon. (The application is a simple Google Doc).
This scholarship was made possible by the thoughtful generosity of Gary’s friends and loved ones, and by the legacy Gary left with those who knew him: to write, to share, and to look out for one another. Here is a note from Gary’s niece:
My uncle, Gary Armstrong, would have been so very pleased to know that this gift will give other veterans an opportunity to speak their truth. His involvement in a writing group was a godsend. His writing gave him a vehicle to express joy, to honor the loves of his life, (especially my aunt, Anita and their cat/son Freedom), to show fondness, appreciation and gratitude to his friends, and to share things that made him laugh or made him curious. It also provided him a place to air frustrations, vent righteous anger and work through difficulties. He called himself ‘The Bard of the Bus Stop’, because you could find him living, learning and experiencing much that he wrote of from that very vantage point. His writing is unconventional, like the man himself.
In his lifetime, he never had much money and he suffered many losses. An over-fondness for alcohol limited his options and landed him on the street more than once and for long stretches at a time. Through it all, he retained a deep humanity, a sense of fairness, of hope, and a love of life. He knew he was a man blessed. No matter his circumstances he could always find a synchronicity to prove it to you, he could always work the experiences of his life into rhyme, or near rhyme and that sense of wonder was never far from his consciousness.
Though he did not write these words, he spoke them often and lived by them, I think he’d approve of me sharing.
“Love life, be gentle and take care of one another.” ~ (unknown)
and always remember to, “Keep the faith, baby!” ~ (Adam Powell)
Kelly Patterson, August ’17
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