• January 29, 2013

Auburn, Maine Auburn Public Library, Beacon Hospice, Edward LIttle High School, and L/A Arts are collaborating to present a performance and discussion of A Finished Heart on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. in the Community Room of Auburn Public Library at 49 Spring Street. The event is open to the general public, with a special invitation to high school students and teachers. At Edward Little High School, students will be focusing on themes raised by the piece during the weeks before and after the performance. The Library will highlight a display of books and other resources on care, illness, loss, and emotional health oriented toward teens. This event is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maine Humanities Council, a private non-profit organization affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

When his husband of sixteen years became ill, author and composer Eliott Cherry cared for him at home. He also recorded their conversations in his diary. After Chris Chenard died in 2007, Eliott wrote poetry, prose and music and combined these with his journal entries to create A Finished Heart.

Eliott Cherry will perform dramatic story and poetry accompanied by a musical score, with Martin Perry at the piano. The audience is invited to attend a post-performance discussion with the author, facilitated by a counselor from Edward Little High School, and the volunteer coordinator of Auburn's Beacon Hospice. Participants will have a chance to share experiences and questions related to care-giving, dying, and loss.

By sharing the intimacy of two men who have committed their lives to each other, Cherry hopes that A Finished Heart will stimulate participants to discover compassionate ways to be with dying individuals and their loved ones, and to broaden their perspectives on dying, care-giving, grief, and life. Further goals are to build respect for the diversity of human relationships, offer a role model and hope for gay youth who may despair that spousal relationships are not possible for them, and to strengthen bonds among family members. The piece expresses an experience of losing one's spouse and the complexity of end-of-life experience. Cherry writes:

Being with Chris as he died and losing him focused me on how vulnerable we are in critical situations. Our last days together spurred us to reach pinnacles of devotion and care.

A Finished Heart has been performed at the University of Maine, the University of New England, the University of Southern Maine, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine, and the Cambridge, MA Public Library as well as for many faith congregations. The work has also been presented at the New England Consortium on Life Stories. Performances have received support from the Maine Arts Commission, the Maine Humanities Council, and the JSL Foundation. Eliott Cherry, a composer and performer, is working to bring A Finished Heart to diverse audiences throughout Maine and beyond. Martin Perry, a freelance pianist and recording artist, specializes in music of the 20th century.

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Martin Gagnon

Auburn Public Library
49 Spring Street
Auburn  ME  04210