Join Books Inc. Berkeley in welcoming local author and poet Vince Montague for a reading from his artistic memoir Cracked Pot!
Vince will be joined in conversation by curator and university educator Nancy Servis.
A widowed teacher finds healing in his late wife's pottery studio.
When Vince Montague's wife perishes in a tragic car accident, he is plunged into a world of grief. After weeks of loneliness and despair, he begins to explore his wife's pottery studio in the wild hills of Northern California, teaching himself to mix clay, throw a pot, fire a kiln, trim and glaze. Just as his grief is ebbing and his future in clay is looking bright, a wildfire advances upon his studio and threatens to destroy everything he has created.
Cracked Pot is a singular book: a story of love lost and the labyrinthine path through grief; a meditation on the craft of pottery and its power to inspire and restore; a rumination on the life of a writer and the refuge of words; an examination of how generational family trauma can shape an artist. Montague's haunting memoir is a kaleidoscopic and redemptive reading experience, one that serves to remind its readers about the cracks and the light.
"Cracked Pot is a soul-baring memoir of love, creativity, loss, grief, and creativity again. Sentence by beautifully wrought, thoughtful sentence, Vince Montague narrates the premature death of his wife, Julia, and how he was able to rebuild his life by way of the clay and kilns and inspiration she left behind for him. 'Just make a cup, ' Julia tells her husband. 'Just make a bowl.' Following and building on those simple instructions, Montague finds a new path forward and, in the process, discovers and experiences the irrevocable persistence of love even in the face of irrevocable separation."
--Benjamin Dreyer, New York Times bestselling author of Dreyer's English
"If you've somehow lost your heart in the fog of grieving, your hands might just provide a roadmap to rediscovery. Vince Montague's Cracked Pot arrives from a chasm of emptiness, building with profundity and grace upward to a quiet roar."
--Bruce Dehnert, co-author of the bestseller Simon Leach's Pottery Handbook, master kiln-builder, artist, and member of the International Academy of Ceramics (UNESCO)
"Vince Montague's Cracked Pot is a wondrous memoir of personal reinvention and the transformative power of art. What Montague has given us is a guide of how to turn tragic loss into transcendent beauty as he traces his indelible journey from husband to widower to potter, the calling of his late wife Julia. This volume, like finely wrought ceramics, is something beautiful you can hold in hand and treasure always."
--Roy Parvin, author of In the Snow Forest and The Loneliest Road in America
"Clay itself is a metaphor that Vince Montague explores in this lyrical and poetic memoir, excavating the notion we are all made of clay, therefore infinitely pliable, remade and rolled out for a pinch pot or a vase. Pottery shards are archeological hints of the heart. Cracked Pot resonates with its multiple meanings and meditates on love and death from title to the last word. This is raw life, raw materials, raw feelings, salvaged by the silken slip of clay, the discovery of thinking with your hands."
--Maw Shein Win, author of Storage Unit for the Spirit House
Vince Montague received his Master's Degree in Creative Writing from NYU in 1989 and soon after began publishing short stories in literary magazines. He also began a twenty-year career as an adjunct instructor of writing at colleges and universities around the Bay Area. His late wife was a filmmaker and potter who died tragically in a car accident in 2009. During her lifetime, he never touched clay but after her death he began to study clay on his own. In 2014, he left his teaching career, reopened his wife's ceramic studio and began making art for a living. His stories and poems have been published in literary and academic journals including: California Quarterly, Westwind. The Florida Review, Talking River Review, Other Voices, Nimrod: An International Journal, Green Mountain Review. He has been an artist-in-residence at Carrizozo AIR (New Mexico), Playa Summer Lake (Oregon), and Willapa Bay (Washington).
Nancy M. Servis features ceramic artist through published articles, catalogue essays, insightful comment, and exhibitions. Vessel makers, sculptors, and muralists are among many whose work illustrates the innovative and dynamic story of clay use in Northern California. As curator, university educator, and writer, her effort sheds new light on the compelling story of this region, and its broad influence over the past 50 years. Nancy also served on the NCECA Board of Directors guiding the 2022 conference in Sacramento and is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.