A Poetry Reading with Sharon Olson

img_0232Poet Sharon Olson will be featured at the Guilford Poets Guild’s March poetry reading. The reading will be held on Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. (open mike from 6:30 to 7) at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Street, Guilford (203-453-8282). Olson is a retired librarian, a graduate of Stanford, with an MLS from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Off the Coast, String Poet, Arroyo Literary Review, The Curator, and others. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

While living in Guilford, Olson helped direct the publication of the Guilford Poets Guild’s Tenth Anniversary Anthology. She currently lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where she is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, and since 2015 has been part of the Cool Women Poets critique and performance group.

Refreshments will be served.


Memorize: A Holiday Roundtable Poetry Reading

Greene_Art_winterThursday, December 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Greene Art Gallery, 29 Whitfield Street, Guilford. Poets and lovers of poetry, join the Guilford Poets Guild for its annual Holiday Roundtable, this year featuring memorized poems. Attendees are invited to recite a poem from memory — either your own poem or one written by someone else.

Please bring a favorite children’s book, new or very gently used, to be donated to the Branford Community Dining Room. (You may also choose to read from your book instead of sharing a poem.) The reading is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served. For more information gpoetsguild@gmail.com, 203-453-5213.

November Reading of Guilford Poets

Guilford Free Library and the Guilford Poets Guild Present a poetry reading with Carol Altieri and Karen Gronback Johnson, Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 pm at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Avenue, Guilford. Open Mic 6:30 to 7 pm. Refreshments served.

carolCarol Altieri earned a Degree of Advanced Study at Wesleyan University, a Master’s Degree in English and American literature and a Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership at Southern Connecticut State University. While there, she received “Graduate Poet of the Year.” A member of the Guilford Poets Guild, she is now a retired English and science teacher. Parables of Passages is her sixth published book of poetry. She also writes essays, memoirs, and letters.

karenAfter living almost her whole life in Connecticut, Karen Gronback Johnson and her husband have recently retired to a farm in the mountains of VA. In her previous life Karen was a member of the clergy in East Haven, a police chaplain, and founder of East Haven United, a non-profit agency working to bring unity to the town. She has been affiliated with members of Guilford Poets Guild since 1978.

Ben Grossberg in October

The Guilford Poets Guild presents poet Ben Grossberg for a poetry reading at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Avenue, Guilford on Thursday, October 13dsc_0608benjamin-grossberg20140214-2, 6:30 p.m. in the Historical Room. There is an open mic 6:30-7 p.m. and refreshments are served.

Benjamin S. Grossberg is the author of Space Traveler (University of Tampa, 2014); Sweet Core Orchard (University of Tampa, 2009), winner of the Tampa Review Prize and a Lambda Literary Award; and Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath (Ashland Poetry Press, 2007), winner of the Snyder Prize. He has also published a chapbook, The Auctioneer Bangs his Gavel, with Kent State University Press (2006). A second chapbook, An Elegy, is forthcoming from Jacar Press. His poems have appeared widely, including in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and the magazines Paris Review, Yale Review, Southern Review, and The Sun. A recipient of individual artist grants from the states of Ohio and Connecticut, he serves as Assistant Poetry Editor and regular book reviewer for the Antioch Review. Ben is Director of Creative Writing at the University of Hartford, in Hartford.

Barbara Crooker in September

IMG_7338 - CopyThe Guilford Poets Guild presents poet Barbara Crooker for a poetry reading at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Avenue, Guilford on Thursday, September 8, 6:30 p.m. There is an open mic 6:30-7 p.m. and refreshments are served.

Barbara Crooker’s poetry, for which she has won many awards, incorporates themes of nature, home, family, love, loss, and disability. Over 700 of her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines, as well as compiled in several chapbooks and books including The Lost Children (1989), Ordinary Life (2001), Radiance (2005), Line Dance (2008), and More (2010). Crooker continues to write, read her poetry, teach workshops, and speak about the venues available for publishing poetry. Her latest collection, Gold (2013), was published in the Poeima Poetry Series by Cascade Books. She currently resides in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania.


Guilford High School winners of the Guilford Poets Guild contest

Guilford High School winners of the Guilford Poets Guild contest were honored on May 12 at the Guilford Free Library. Every year the Guild sponsors a poetry contest at the high school to which dozens of students submit poems. Winners are given cash prizes and invited to read at the Guild’s Second Thursday readings.

This year’s winners were Nora Grace-Flood, who won first prize; Aaron Helsel won second; and Tristan Patino won third. Honorable mention winners were Ana Blanchet and Diego Garcia. Andrew Chapman won the Gordy Whiteman Prize for the best poem about Guilford. That prize is funded by Mr. Whiteman who is Guilford’s Poet Laureate.

For one of the winners, Ana Blanchet, the day was extra special because it was also her eighteenth birthday. She brought a chocolate cake and after the readings the audience sang Happy Birthday and everyone had a piece of cake.

Nan Meneely Au Courant

hc-nancy-meneely-jpg-20160524Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely Honors Her Father’s Sacrifice As A Doctor In WWII
Hartford Courant, May 29, 2016

This month’s featured poet, Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely, is the author of “Letter from Italy: 1944,” which is the source of an oratorio by the same title with music by Sarah Meneely-Kyder, itself the subject of a PBS Emmy-nominated documentary narrated by Meryl Streep. The oratorio will be performed by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in 2017. The poems in  Meneely’s book tell the harrowing story of Dr. John Meneely, the author’s father, whose involvement in World War II as a doctor in the 10th Mountain Division continued into his personal war against what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder. What follows is a selection from the book: two poems and an entry from John Meneely’s Italian diary. After many years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  Meneely now devotes her time to writing and social service projects such as A Better Chance. She lives in Essex.

—Rennie McQuilkin, CT Poet Laureate

Letter from Italy, 1945

Tonight beneath the slide
of moonlight on the mountain’s
eastern flank, the snow
is veined with trails of those
I’ve pulled to camp. The cold
is fastened around my thighs,
the whole of winter’s weight
suspended from it as I try
to get the last one home.
He took a round below the ribs,
a belly wound I cannot staunch.
Slowly he leaves his life behind us
beading in the frozen air,
a story tailing off, the storyteller
gone to sleep.

Last week we passed Cecina,
ruined in the war. From back
behind a house returned to earth
and stone, a sudden cheerful dog
appeared, improbable.
We broke to encircle him,
soldiers exposed
at the side of the road,
hunkering, our faces buried
in his grimy scruff,
murmuring fragments
of letters home, wanting
to weep at the warmth.

My Lieutenant, Bill, said:
“Most of us hate the snow
and all of us hate the sound
of shells, the godawful softness
of flesh, the things we’ve forgotten
about ourselves, the enemy.
Look at us, John, sucking
at hatred for strength
and dying for something to love.”
He smiled at me,
the gift he always gave.

When I lean over my soldier
to dress his wound,
he is aware of everything,
the pump and heat of his blood,
the length of himself on the snow,
how small I am between him
and the brilliant Alpine sky.

I would like to ride the fall
of light into rooms
in the village below,
to sleep as the villagers sleep,
glossy with moonlight, not sick
with the feel of its thin
indifference in me.


A man is wracked with weeping somewhere near,
keening from behind a closet door,
and John’s the only man who’s living here.

He fights the clutch of memory and fear,
my husband, wins his own twice-daily war.
But now I find him weeping somewhere near

though he has never cried where I could hear.
He’s holding boots I haven’t seen before
on him, the only man who’s living here.

He tells the story, strangled by thick tears:
he bushwhacks hard along the island shore
to sweep for men in wreckage somewhere near.

In brush beside the shingle, boots appear,
inside them someone’s ankles, nothing more.
My John’s the only man who’s living here.

He finds the severed body, lifts it clear
of wet black tangle on the ocean floor.
A man is wracked with weeping somewhere near
and he’s the only man who’s living, here.

I was sitting upstairs in my room when we began to hear a machine gun up the valley fire. At first we thought it was a counterattack. Then whistles began to blow, and suddenly my sergeant came screaming up the stairs and began to hug me and howl that all hostilities had ceased in all of Italy. The town was wild by that time. But even in the confusion, I noticed with wonder that not a soldier was participating. Both my sergeants were looking out over the water and saying nothing. I think it was the gravest moment in any of our lives. I went up to my room. It was a dazed, confused feeling. The main thing that kept clawing at me was that we were safe and that in the last week people like Bill Floyd had been killed. I stood there for a long time before I realized that my face and shirtfront were soaked and that I was shaking with tears; for the first time in many years, I was crying, hard, like a damned baby I thought. I looked out the window and thought, Bill, Bill, why aren’t you here to see this day? I looked down and my sergeant was sitting on the steps with his head in his hands, crying, too. I went to bed and fell into a dead sleep.

Copyright © 2013 by Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely
CT Poet Laureate Rennie McQuilkin selects work for CT Poet’s Corner by invitation.
Copyright © 2016, Hartford Courant