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High Tea At A Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood

Angela Patten has published two poetry collections and teaches poetry at the University of Vermont, but this weekend at the Burlington Book Festival, she'll be reading from her first foray into non-fiction, a memoir called "High Tea at a Low Table: Stories from an Irish Childhood."

She spoke to VPR's Mitch Wertlieb about her struggles growing up in working class Dublin in the 1950's, and a terrifying incident that occurred when she was new to her job at UVM.

Patten was kidnapped on her way to work at the University of Vermont in 1984.

“Every time I would drive by Waterman building I would think about it, I still do occasionally. But it doesn’t haunt me,” she says.

Patten recounts the incredible event in detail, which occurred right after she moved to the U.S. from Ireland. At the time, she says she was incredibly homesick.

“I was just so unprepared for that complete separation. And then suddenly finding myself alone in a place where I didn’t know how to drive, I was terribly shy and self-conscious. I felt really lost,” Patten says.

She also discusses her approach to teaching poetry.

“We grew up in Dublin, and I don’t think we were unusual, being fascinated by language. I always think that poetry and writing of any kind is a matter of falling in love with the language, rather than immediately going at it from a more cerebral place. Allowing the images to affect you emotionally, the way that music does,” says Patten.

Patten will be reading from “High Tea at a Low Table: Stories from an Irish Childhood”  on Sunday, September 22nd at Phoenix Book in Burlington at 1p.m.as part of the Burlington Book Festival.

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