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.”
CHICAGO AND DECEMBER
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:
her bashful attention fixed
to place things just right,
whose fishy fingers seem
never to do a day’s work,
the great stone lions outside
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,
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.
In December, we’re highlighting some of our favorite holiday poems and writings. This Shel Silverstein was submitted by Nancy Meneely.
SNOWBALL Shel Silverstein
I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pyjamas,
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first, it wet the bed!
In December, we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite holiday poems and writings. This essay by Juliana Harris was published in the Kansas City Star in 2006.
CHRISTMAS AT SAINT PAUL’S
“While there is time,” Dr. Trelease, the Rector of Saint Paul’s Church, would say, “let us do good to all men, especially those that are of the kingdom of heaven,”
I’m sure the orphans from the City Union Mission were of the kingdom of heaven, but they certainly put a damper on my Christmas spirit. They would arrive in a green school bus on the Sunday before Christmas to have dinner and be given gifts that we, the Sunday school children, would provide. The orphans made me miserable. They were perfectly nice in their hand-me-down clothes, and that just made it worse. They didn’t have a mommy or a daddy for goodness sake! What could I say to them? I could barely bring myself to look at them, let alone speak. They seemed to enjoy themselves but when the end of the evening came and they boarded their bus, I stood in front of the church watching the red taillights disappear, heading for home with a heavy heart.
What kind of Christmas were they going to have? Would they have presents from Santa? Would he come down the chimney at the Mission? Was there a chimney at the Mission? Oh dear! These thoughts crowded my brain as I trudged through the snow but once I got home, all gloom vanished in anticipation of the glories of Christmas morning,
A Christmas hasn’t gone by since that I don’t remember those winking taillights and the passengers within. I like to think they went on to have many happy Christmases of their own. I know they taught me a valuable lesson: “While there is time, let us do good to all men, especially those that are of the kingdom of heaven.”
On Thursday, December 10, the Guilford Poets Guild will present its Annual Holiday Roundtable, with a chance to share and listen to a collection of favorite holiday poems. The special reading will take place via Zoom at 7PM, hosted by the Guilford Free Library. All are welcome to sign up to read one poem for this open mic formatted event, with a limit of 20 readers.
Participating Guilford Poets Guild members for the evening include: Carol Altieri, Evelyn Atreya, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Margaret Iacobellis, Norman Marshall, Nancy Meneely, Jane Muir, Patricia H. O’Brien, Jen Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, Edward Walker, and Gordy Whiteman.
“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” ― Neil Gaiman
Books make great gifts, especially if they’re by your local Guilford Poets Guild members! Many of these books can be ordered from your local bookstore or from bookshop.org — remember shop small, shop local!
In November, the Guilford Poets Guild welcomes poet Ginny Lowe Connors for its Second Thursday Poetry Reading. The reading will take place via Zoom on Thursday, November 12 at 7PM, hosted by the Guilford Free Library.
Connors, a retired English teacher, is the author of several poetry collections, including Toward the Hanging Tree: Poems of Salem Village, as well as The Unparalleled Beauty of a Crooked Line and Barbarians in the Kitchen. Her chapbook, Under the Porch, won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and she has earned numerous awards for individual poems. As publisher of her own press, Grayson Books, Connors has also edited a number of poetry anthologies, including Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry. A Board Member of the Connecticut Poetry Society, she is co-editor of Connecticut River Review. Connors writes a monthly column for the Hartford Courant: CT Poets’ Corner.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Guilford Poets Guild and upcoming events visit guilfordpoetsguild.org.
Rafferty’s most recent collections of poems are The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017), Something an Atheist Might Bring Up at a Cocktail Party (Mayapple Press, 2018), and The Problem With Abundance (Grayson Books, 2019). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and New World Writing, and his story collection is Saturday Night at Magellan’s (Fomite Press, 2013). He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, as well as the 2016 NANO Fiction Prize. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.
The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Guilford Poets Guild member Nan Meneely recently completed work on lyrics for the album I Sang My Heart to the Moon, composed by Austrian composer Oliver Ostermann, and sung by Brian Cheney and Johanna Ostermann.
Colin Clarke at Fanfare Magazine writes: “At a time of pandemic, perhaps we need some music that might have come from the musicals to soothe us, and that is exactly what Austrian composer Oliver Ostermann provides in his new album, I Sang My Heart to the Moon—eight songs to calm the soul, to provide solace….The titles tell the story, of course: Love Apart (separation), The Moon (a lonely instrumental), I Sang My Heart to the Moon (a song of pining), The Stars (another instrumental). Perhaps most poignantly, there is I Need a Song; we all need music, as the present situation has surely proved. This song, with its wit and charm, is a winner.”
He goes on to say that “The lyrics, by Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely, constitute beautiful poetry in and of themselves.”
You can read the full review here, but even better is to listen to some FREE samples of the the music! Click here.
The Guilford Poets Guild is hitting PLAY after pausing its Second Thursday Poetry Readings for the past several months. Their first featured poet, Priscilla Ellsworth, will read selected poems via Zoom on Thursday, September 10 at 7PM. The event will be hosted by the Guilford Free Library.
Ellsworth is the author of three poetry collections, and her poems have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a resident of Salisbury, CT and her work has appeared in Cape Rock, Connecticut River Review, Whetstone, and Nimrod. She has been the featured poet in the Connecticut Poets Corner of the Hartford Courant.
The event is free and open to the public. We look forward to “seeing” you!
In the spirit of its long running (though temporarily paused) open mic and featured reader series at the Institute Library in New Haven, Pi, The Poetry Institute, offers Circumference zine, an Online Poetry Journal.
Editors Gemma Mathewson and Mark McGuire-Schwartz explain: “We hope it reflects the spirit of our celebration of poetry from a dedicated, diverse and ever expanding circle of poets who share their morsels of truth, nuggets of beauty and small magic. We have been honored to bring these works into the virtual light, and we hope you find in them, at this time, some small measure of welcome illumination.”
The Guilford Poets Guild is well represented in the first issue by members Juliana Harris, Nan Meneely, and Patricia Horn O’Brien.
• You can view Circumference by clicking on this link to the Pi Website.
• You can view the Circumference PDF here