(Keeping On) Sweet Morass


Each day of seven days
a repeat that neither sails
beyond the rest nor lags
In laziness or in duress
but sits handsome in its
reticence, its nudge from
earth to foggy brush to
heaven’s vague offering
until we neither know to fly
the vaguely referenced
place of smudged trees,
of swamp, of a heaven
clearing just enough to
send us to our calendars
to recover day or month
or year, to wonder if,
in the layers of this universe
our families still dwell, never-
mind old friends, our grocer,
the neighbors we haven’t
spied for … who knows …
the days or years,
the dreamy week
it’s been since when …

Poem by Patricia Horn O’Brien
Artwork: Cylinder Series by Alice Chittenden

(Keeping On) Suggested Title: Tenacious


No matter what we think
or how it feels,
we don’t really break break,
even our break downs
imply eventual turn ups.

Oh sure, we bend a little,
(bend over backwards, too)
fold under pressure sometimes
lean into the pain
collapse with exhaustion
appear to come apart at the seams
and yet…

And yet.
Upon this holy ground of spirit
there is still room to breathe,
we are not damaged, we are flexible
we are not falling apart, we are rebuilding
we are not broken or undone.

By the very fibers of our being,
we are strength and grace



Poem by Jen Payne
Artwork: Untitled by Lisa Wolkow

(Keeping On) A Portrait


Of all the artwork on display
I keep returning to your portrait.
What is it that draws my eye
back to this small painting.

Is it your pale blue gaze?
Your face filling the entire space?
Or is it…
That fiercely arched eyebrow?

Poem by Juliana Harris
Artwork: A Portrait by Scott Paterson

Guilford Poets Guild and the Guilford Art Center Present Ekphrastic Poems in March

Poets and artists alike have been “Keeping On” during the pandemic. Proof can be seen at the Guilford Art Center’s Faculty Exhibit and its accompanying series of poems written by members of the Guilford Poets Guild — both on view through the month of March. The exhibit and poems share how GAC instructors and GPG poets have engaged with their creativity to help them “keep on” during this time of the pandemic.

This is the fourth ekphrastic collaboration between the Guilford Poets Guild and Guilford Art Center, usually culminating in a reading at the Center. This year’s event is virtual, with poems appearing on both organization’s websites throughout the month.

Ekphrastic poetry is a response to a visual work of art, often a vivid, dramatic work that takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration. With the GAC Gallery reopening, many GPG poets were able to view the artwork in person, while others visited the gallery virtually via photos and a walk-through video available on the GAC Facebook page.

If you can, be sure to visit the “Keeping On” Faculty Exhibit yourself. The gallery is free and open to the community Wednesday – Friday, 12:00-4:00pm and Saturdays 10:00 am-4:00pm. Mask wearing and social distancing is required upon entry. For more information contact Guilford Art Center at www.guilfordartcenter.org or 203-453-5947.

The Guilford Poets Guild is a group of award-winning, published poets from the shoreline who meet regularly to share poems and promote the love and engagement of poetry within the community. Throughout the year the GPG hosts a number of poetry readings including its popular Second Thursday Poetry Series, a Holiday Roundtable, the Guilford High School Poetry Contest, and coordinates poetry/art events with Guilford Art Center, the Madison Art Society and the Florence Griswold Museum. The Guild recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the publication of its third anthology of poems, Our Changing Environment. The book is available for purchase online at http://www.guilfordpoetsguild.org and from Breakwater Books in Guilford.

Juliana Harris Wins Grand Prize in National Writing Contest

KaleidoscopeWoJo Reflections on Women’s Journeys has announced the Grand Prize Winner of its Holiday Writing Contest. “The Great K-10 Race” is the winning essay, written by Juliana Harris. The goal of Kaleidoscope is to empower women writers through the written word but also through workshop/seminars and webinars. These activities foster the art of storytelling at the individual group and team levels. Their contests are held on a regular basis with a $100 award for first place. “They asked for a reminiscence of family holidays and I submitted a piece I had written about a Thanksgiving years ago,” said Harris, who is President of the Guilford Poets Guild. “I shared it with Guild at one of our bi-monthly meetings and their enthusiasm caused me to submit it.” She is the author of two novels, a chapbook of poetry and her book, Murder at the Tavern: A Guilford Mystery, is currently available at Breakwater Books in Guilford.

Read the Winning Entry Here

Guilford Poets Guild Welcomes Poet Marilyn Nelson in March

In March, the Guilford Poets Guild welcomes esteemed poet Marilyn Nelson for its Second Thursday Poetry Reading. The reading will take place via Zoom on Thursday, March 11 at 7PM, hosted by the Guilford Free Library.

Please register on the Library’s website, http://www.guilfordfreelibrary.org. A Zoom link will be sent to you directly.

A former Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut (2001-2006), Nelson is the author or translator of seventeen poetry books and the memoir How I Discovered Poetry. She is also the author of The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems, which won the 1998 Poets’ Prize, Carver: A Life In Poems, which won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and Fortune’s Bones, which was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Nelson’s honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal.

The event is free and open to the public.

Photo ©Peter Wynn Thompson/AP Images

Attention Poetry Lovers

Dear Fellow Poetry Lover:

Despite hunkering down this past year, the Guilford Poets Guild has been busy. While we had to cancel our regular poetry readings at the Guilford Library last spring because of the pandemic, we were able to resume them via Zoom in the fall with readings by Priscilla Ellsworth, Charles Rafferty, and Ginny Lowe Connors. We hosted a virtual Holiday Roundtable reading in December, and we are currently working with Guilford High School to coordinate an event with student poets this spring.

In 2019, we published the 20th Anniversary Anthology, our third anthology of shoreline poets. The theme was “Our Changing Environment”—although none of the poems considered a pandemic. Copies of the anthology are available at Breakwater Books, the Guilford Art Center, and here on our website.

Our website also includes books published by our members, videos of poetry readings, upcoming events, and news items. During the pandemic, the site featured “Poems in a Pandemic,” “Ekphrastic May: Poems from Home,” and a series of poet interviews during National Poetry Month.

And so we press on, meeting twice a month on Zoom to share and polish our work, and making plans for our 2021 Second Thursday Readings starting in the Spring.

We wish you the best in this challenging time and, if you care to contribute, we deeply appreciate your support. Donations can be made by mail or by using the Donate button below

Stay well, stay safe, vaccinations are just around the corner,

Carol Leavitt Altieri, Evelyn Atreya, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Margaret Iacobellis, Karen Gronback Johnson, Norman Thomas Marshall, Nancy Meneely, Jane Muir, Patricia Horn O’Brien, Sharon Olson, Jen Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, Jane Ulrich, Edward Walker, Gordy Whiteman


P.S. Please follow us on Facebook or sign-up for our enewsletters.

MANIFEST (zine): Cat Lady Confessions from Jen Payne

MANIFEST (zine) presents Cat Lady Confessions, a full-color exposé that explores the oft-maligned life of the cat lady: crazy or contemplative? recluse or dancing to the beat of her own drum? You decide.

Now on sale, this 24-page, color booklet includes essays, poetry, and mixed media collage pieces. You’ll get to make your own Cat Lady mask, and dance around to a Spotify playlist curated especially for this issue.

Part artist book, part chapbook, MANIFEST (zine) is the creation of Guilford Poets Guild member Jen Payne. It’s a hold-in-your-hands art installation featuring Jen’s creative efforts along with inspirational quotes, and bits and pieces of whatnot that rise to the surface as she meditates on a theme.

Layered with colors, textures, and meanings, each issue is handmade then color-copied and embellished. The result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies for you to discover along the way.

Cat Lady Confessions costs $6.00, but you can subscribe to MANIFEST (zine) and get four issues for just $20.00. Support the project as a $30.00 Sponsor and get four issues plus a special gift!

CLICK HERE for more information or order your copy today!

explores the oft-maligned life of the cat lady: crazy or contemplative? recluse or dancing to the beat of her own drum? You decide. Includes a curated Spotify playlist. (Color, 24-page booklet)

Chicago and December

In December, we’re highlighting some of our favorite holiday poems and writings. Sharon Olson writes, “Recently Poetry Magazine published online a poem by W. S. Di Piero. I suspect he is not well known, but he is one of my favorite poets. Because he taught at Stanford near where I lived, I met him a few times and we even exchanged some limited correspondence. Di Piero’s poems often are concerned with the lives of the working class people, like the ones he grew up with in South Philly. His poem “Chicago and December” is a personal meditation of his reactions walking around that city, about the commercialism of the holiday decorations, but more importantly he invokes the change of seasons, marked by the flight of birds.”

W. S. Di Piero

Trying to find my roost
one lidded, late afternoon,
the consolation of color
worked up like neediness,
like craving chocolate,
I’m at Art Institute favorites:
Velasquez’s “Servant,”
her bashful attention fixed
to place things just right,
Beckmann’s “Self-Portrait,”
whose fishy fingers seem
never to do a day’s work,
the great stone lions outside
monumentally pissed
by jumbo wreaths and ribbons
municipal good cheer
yoked around their heads.
Mealy mist. Furred air.
I walk north across
the river, Christmas lights
crushed on skyscraper glass,
bling stringing Michigan Ave.,
sunlight’s last-gasp sighing
through the artless fog.
Vague fatigued promise hangs
in the low darkened sky
when bunched scrawny starlings
rattle up from trees,
switchback and snag
like tossed rags dressing
the bare wintering branches,
black-on-black shining,
and I’m in a moment
more like a fore-moment:
from the sidewalk, watching them
poised without purpose,
I feel lifted inside the common
hazards and orders of things
when from their stillness,
the formal, aimless, not-waiting birds
erupt again, clap, elated weather-
making wing-clouds changing,
smithereened back and forth,
now already gone to follow
the river’s running course.