Arlene Iris Distler was born in New York. She moved with her family to Miami Beach at the age of 12, attended high school in Miami Beach and a year of college at the University of Florida before moving back to the northeast. From 1963-68 she attended Rhode Island School of Design, earning a BFA. She lived in Manhattan’s Lower East side and Chelsea district before moving to Woodstock, New York in 1968, and then Vermont in 1970.
Arlene raised a family of four children in Readsboro and Brattleboro, Vermont, with her husband, Alan. She has one stepdaughter, Kathryn.
After spending ten years homesteading in Readsboro, she moved with her husband and children to Brattleboro, where she eventually became a para-instructor for the elementary grades.
She started writing poetry seriously in the 80’s, giving readings in the Brattleboro area throughout the 80’s and 90’s.
In 1999 she and her partner, Marty Jezer, started a non-profit writers’ group they called Write Action, formed “to strengthen a community of writers in the Brattleboro area”, and “to encourage, nurture, and promote the literary arts in the at-large community.” It is still an important part of her community life.
In 2000 she started working as a freelance writer on the arts, particularly the visual arts.
Her reviews have been published in national, regional, and local publications, through the first two decades of the 2000’s.
Her poems have been published in literary journals, including Chrysalis Journal, North American Review (as a finalist in the James Hearst Poetry Contest), Kalliope, as a finalist in New Millennium Writings, and was runner-up in the broadside competition from Chickadee Chaps and Broads.
Her poetry has been included in the anthologies “Freedom’s Just Another Word” from Outrider Press, “The Best of Write Action, ” “Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont”, “Whitman Cooks!”, a poetry-centered cookbook, and in the forthcoming “Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poets #3.”
She has received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and Pen America.
She has had two books of poetry published: “Voices Like Wind Chimes”, Finishing Line Press in 2014, and “This Earth, This Body” Published by Kelsay Press in 2022
Other activities and projects:
Painting; organized “Roads less Taken,” exhibit of paintings and other art by women who had late discovered their passion for art.
2018 – “Raised Voices: Resist” – exhibited in and helped organize a show of protest art
2016 – organized “Roads Less Taken,” an exhibit of paintings and other creative works by women who had late discovered their passion for art.
2015 – present – Ceramics – production and sale of creative functional ceramics. Participation in collective, “Clayworks”.
2000 – 2021 Art reviews and arts-related stories – American Craft, ArtVoices, Art New England, ArtScope, Vermont Magazine, Southern Vermont Arts & Living, Vermont Art Zine (online); regular features in Brattleboro Reformer, The Commons
2012 – Organized “Trees, A Collaborative Performance of Poetry and Dance”
2009 – Co-editor of “The Best of Write Action, Tenth Anniversary edition”
July, 2007 Organized “An Evening of Poetry and Jazz” with Vermont Jazz Center
2002 – 2003 Editor, “The Best of Write Action”, an anthology of community writing
1999 – present Organizer of literary events for Brattleboro and surrounding towns, including an organizer for annual Brattleboro Literary Festival
1998 – 2018 One of the main organizers for The Women’s Film Festival, an annual fundraising and outreach event of the Women’s Crisis Center of Windham County Co-chair (2002-4), Steering committee, Film Selection, head of publicity.
1997- 1998 Videographer and editor for Brattleboro Community TV’s “Artist of the Month” program
1987 – 1994 Para educator in the public elementary schools, specializing in teaching writing and conducting special art projects
1993 – 2013 Various poetry workshops and writing retreats — at Vermont Studio Center, Frost Place, Omega Institute
1966-67 New York Studio School, painting
1963-68 Rhode Island School of Design, BFA, painting
1962-63 University of Florida, Gainesville Liberal arts