Literary Arts


Poetry Rocks! is a quarterly poetry reading series organized by ACE Artist Member and Vernon Poet Laureate, Pegi Deitz Shea. It is co-sponsored by Arts Center East and the Vernon Arts Commission. In 2017, the then ACE Director, Joan Sonnanburg, approached Pegi about beginning a poetry reading series that would feature Rockville High Schoo’s award-winning poets, early career poets, and established Connecticut poets. Now in its fourth year, Poetry Rocks! has featured numerous poets, including current CT State Poet Laureate, Margaret Gibson, and past CT State Poet Laureate, Rennie McQuilkin. Readings are held on Sunday afternoons at Arts Center East.


The ACE Book club is meeting virtually!

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Time: 1:30pm, via Zoom
Title for Discussion: Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich

“In this now classic work, Barbara Ehrenreich, our sharpest and most original social critic, goes ‘undercover’ as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. 

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job–any job–can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? 

To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly ‘unskilled,’ that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.” (

If you are new to the ACE Book Club and would like to join the October meeting, email prior to the meeting date.

Please read our Book Club discussion guidelines before joining.


Date: January 21, 2023 at 2:00pm
Cost: $35.00 (includes a signed copy of the book)
Registration required

Join us for this special local author event. Ron Farina will read from and talk about his book, Out of the Shadows: Voices of American Women Soldiers.

These are the stories of nine remarkable American women soldiers wounded while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Based on hours of personal interviews, the book pieces together the unique lives of these women who served side-by-side with their male counterparts in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.

There will be a Q&A after the reading, led by Mary Collins.

Ron Farina is author of three books, including most recently “Out of the Shadows Voices of American Women Soldiers,” “Who Will Have My Back,” and “At the Altar of the Past” Other works include; Unsung Heroes, Keeping Promises, and Worn Torn, personal essays about the human cost of war. In 2021 he was awarded the AWP Intro Award for fiction and the Society of Professional Journalists, Connecticut Chapter first place award for General Column Magazine writing. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two Golden Retrievers, Henry and Preacher.

He holds an MFA from Western Connecticut State University. He served in Vietnam in 1966-1967.

Mary Collins is the Program Coordinator for the Writing Minors at Central Connecticut State University where she had the good fortune to have Ron Farina as a student in a nonfiction writing workshop. She has worked extensively with veterans in the last 15 years and did a community engagement project with students to produce “I Never Thought He Wasn’t Coming Home: A Special 50 Commemoration Story Project” with the CT Veterans’ History Project, which captured stories of Gold Star families who had lost sons in the Vietnam War. In the summers she teaches the nonfiction writing workshop for Yale University’s Summer Program. To learn more about her, visit


“These stories are so immediately compelling, it only takes one step and you are inside that world, not as a reader, not as an observer, but there, as one of the soldiers and battle buddies as they face incredible challenges. You can feel the heat, taste the dust, and smell the fear. This is as real as it gets-virtual reality via the written word. Ron Farina’s talent at storytelling is incredible. He pulls you into this world and gives you an insider look at what women soldiers do, think, feel. Their voices are in your head and their stories stay with you.”

-Maj. Gen. Mari Eder, U.S. Army (ret.), former Commanding General of U.S. Army Reserve Joint and Special Troops Support Command

“Ron Farina’s book engagingly captures the narrative of modern American soldiers who served and sacrificed in battle. At times uplifting, and at times heartbreaking, these are real stories of women warriors that must not be ignored. Their experiences and struggles should be a reminder that our country has an obligation to fulfill its promise to honor and support our post-9/11 generation of veterans.”

-Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, USMC (ret.)