Former Sherwood Forest camper and celebrated writer/poet, Pat Schneider, passed away on August 10, 2020 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her early childhood experiences with poverty were paramount in her work and inspired her to give a voice to the less fortunate throughout her illustrious career. Of particular significance was Pat’s time at Sherwood Forest, where she attended from ages 12-16. She credited Sherwood Forest with “saving my sanity, if not my life.”
Poet and author of nine books including five volumes of poems, Writing Alone & With Others (Oxford University Press), and Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography, Pat Schneider’s libretti have been performed and recorded at Tanglewood and in Carnegie Hall by Robert Shaw & the Atlanta Symphony. Her work has been featured on NPR, on National Public Television, and fourteen times on Garrison Keillor’s “Writers Almanac.” Pat was founder and director emerita of Amherst Writers & Artists and AWA Press. She also worked as an adjunct faculty member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
Poem by Pat Schneider inspired by camp days at Sherwood Forest:
“How the Stars Came Down” – Pat Schneider
Night. How the stars came down
arching over us, and the only name
we had for them was shooting stars.
Why there were so many was anybody’s guess.
My great grandmother thought the world
was coming to an end when Haley’s comet
flared across the sky. I lay flat on my back
and watched the night sky falling
all around me and I wanted,
more than anything, never to go home.
I did, of course. They put us campers into busses
and drove us back to tenements,
asphalt and streetlights in the city.
What I didn’t know that night
in my bedroll at Sherwood Forest Camp
was that when I got home,
home wasn’t my real home any more.
I had a new home in my remembering
and it was dark and safe and beautiful
with shooting stars still falling all around.