Summer News from GPG Poets

Guilford Poets Guild member and Guilford’s Poet Laureate Gordy Whiteman was recently featured in the Hartford Courants Poets Corner.

“The thing about poetry,” Whiteman says, is that it gets “the whole novel, the whole history, biography, love story on one page, and I get the answers I didn’t even know I was looking for.” He says poetry helps him think things out and that he often finds himself mentally conversing with a poet as he reads a poem. “You want a five-star evening? Read a book of poetry.”

Click here to read the full article.


The body of a young woman is found brutally beaten in the woods behind the Medad Stone Tavern, and the murder weapon turns out to be the walking stick of 73-year-old Ashley Hamilton Reynolds. “Squire,” as he is fondly known around his hometown, is the scion of one of Guilford’s oldest and most reputable families. He claims his walking stick had gone missing a few days before the murder. But how can this be proved? And, if he is innocent, who is the real killer?

Find out in the new book by GPG member Juliana Harris, MURDER AT THE TAVERN: A GUILFORD MYSTERY. ($15) Click here to order from Julie.

Juliana is also participating in the AARP Superstar 2020 Contest. Check out her entry here, then check back on August 6 to see if she makes it to the Finals! Good luck Julie!


Poet Gwen Gunn says “I am in the process of writing the dialogue to an operatic musical by Hillarie Clark Moore, based on the award-winning romantic novel Tregaron’s Daughter by Madeleine Brent.


Guild member Jen Payne recently published the first issue of MANIFEST (zine), part artist book, part poetry chapbook. It’s a hold-in-your-hands art installation featuring her writing, mixed-media collage work, photography, 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, embellished, and intricately folded. The result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies for you to discover along the way. Click here to read more about Manifest (zine) and the first issue, DIVINE INTERVENTION, available for $5.00.


Poet Sharon Olson reports that she read recently as one of two featured readers for Poetry Center San José’s Well-RED reading series (June 9), and her poem “That Day” was featured on Verse Daily (July 12).


GPG Poet Nan Meneely’s new book, SIMPLE ABSENCE, has been nominated for the National Book Award. Click here to purchase a copy from Amazon.

One of poetry’s dreams is amplitude, the book of poems that gives a sense of life’s fullness, even as it depicts the losses. Nancy Meneely’s SIMPLE ABSENCE speaks eloquently to that dream, the range of poems honoring and testifying to a host of situations—public and private. Each poem deftly enacts the drama of trammeled and untrammeled emotion. Though the poems embody essences of form and feeling, lines and stanzas moving crisply down the pages, there is nothing minimal here. The breadth and depth are both inspiring. – Baron Wormser

Nan Meneely’s SIMPLE ABSENCE, refers, I assume, to the poet’s absence of authorial ego, since there’s nothing else absent in these richly-textured, various-structured, deeply-felt and capacious poems (plus a few prose pieces). Great pleasure is to be garnered from Meneely’s powers of description; precise, wholly new, better than anyone’s I know. Wonder is to be had, as well, in the particular objects, observations, ideas and emotions this poet chooses to treat as subjects: idiosyncratic in the best sense. From first thought to last, the reader’s ride is electric and ultimately bedazzling. I want to pour Meneely’s poems into my bathtub and soak in them, or mix them up in my juicer and drink them: I want to have written them. – Gray Jacobik

The stunning front cover is Griswold Point December, by Scott Kahn.


Poet Pat O’Brien shared this recent poem, along with a judge’s fabulous critique.

And Almost Home

He’d only just added
three French phrases,
one algebraic formula, ease

with his locker key.
He’d elbowed
his buddy in the hall.

Daydreamed

the night into being,
his favorite
Hey, cute thing!
just before maple leaves
garlanded the spikes
of his perfect hair, his sweet/

smart-ass smile no guard
against the descent
of the undermined tree,

the wind with its last lesson.

– – – – –

A 16-year-old boy has died after being struck by a tree near Clayton Heights Secondary. At 2:24 p.m. Friday, emergency crews were called to a wooded area by the school, at 6965 188 St. They found the boy in serious condition after being struck by a tree, which toppled during a wind storm. Firefighters initiated “first responder protocols” according to Deputy Surrey Fire Chief Larry Thomas. Fire crews continued medical assistance on route to hospital. However, the boy succumbed to his injuries once he had arrived at the hospital. Surrey School District spokesperson Doug Strachan said Friday the final bell had gone and kids were heading home. They had been warned to stay away from treed areas because of the high winds. Strachan said extra counseling would be available to kids when they return to school on Monday and that the school’s website would be updated with pertinent information. Fire crews were incredibly busy on Friday as winds and rains took down trees, which in turn knocked out power. More than 12,000 homes were without power in the Surrey area on Friday afternoon.

– – – – –

About your poem, “And Almost Home,” Mr. Zdanys notes: This is a powerful and yet low key build-up to a moment of crisis and loss, the ripples of action in this lyric moment standing outside of time and bringing us up to and into the moment of time named in the epigraph. The poet works backwards in this poem, in a kind of brisk countdown, to those closing moments of a life, based on an account in a newspaper. The sense of standing outside of time and yet being engulfed in time is what gives lyric poetry its defining authority, and the poet manages that clearly and well here. The recurring use of the long “e” sound sends a jarring aural message, an expression of surprise and pain, throughout the poem. It is a long sound, not a quick one, and therefore it is a counterpoint and a background noise to the fast and unexpected action of the falling tree and the death of the boy.

 


Echoes of the natural world and early life on a farm in East Andover, New Hampshire enhance the poetry in HIKING THE RUGGED SHORE, as do the variety of creatures and landscapes always thoughtfully observed by GPG Poet Carol Altieri. Her poems criss-cross the planet, interwoven with travels in the United States and abroad.

Altieri simultaneously evokes the strong emotions that followed the untimely losses of her sisters, daughter, and husband. Gradually, moving from grief to acceptance to appreciation, she inspires the reader to consider the pendulum that swings between the memories and experiences of family and our engagement with the natural world.

HIKING THE RUGGED SHORE is 132 Pages with 50 Color Photos, $20.00. Available online or from Carol,  carolaltieri@comcast.net.


Looking for something new to read?
Check out these books by GPG members:

Our Changing Environment: Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology

Hiking the Rugged Shore, Carol Altieri

Regarding Rock, Evelyn Atreya

Tastes, Gwen Gunn

Murder at the Tavern: A Guilford Mystery, Juliana Harris

Letters from Italy, 1944, Nancy Meneely

Simple Absence, Nancy Meneely

Bulletin from Suburbia, Jane Muir

When Less than Perfect is Enough, Patricia O’Brien

The Laughing Rabbit: A Mother, A Son, and The Ties That Bind, Patricia O’Brien

• Will There Be Music, Sharon Olson

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, Jen Payne

• Waiting Out the Storm, Jen Payne

Ekphrastic May: Summertime

Members of the Guilford Poets Guild are writing ekphrastic poems this month, poetry inspired by artwork hanging in their home.

by Evelyn Atreya

summertime –
the sweetness
of indecision

About this Art: In 1987 in a garden in Suzhou, China I came upon a local artist painting on silk swatches. I purchased this small piece and stuck it between the pages of a book to protect it on my journey. I completely forgot about it. More than two decades later, it tumbled out of the book I was preparing to donate to the library. I feel in love with it all over again and immediately brought it to be framed. I have treasured it ever since.

Poet Evelyn Atreya

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what GPG president and poet Evelyn Atreya had to say:

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
No, but I know that it was my English homework that I wrote in my high school Chemistry class that met right before English. My English teacher praised the poem and read it to the class. Positive feedback is pretty powerful!

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I’m big on To-Do Lists that keep me organized so I have time to write poetry. I find just living is a creative pursuit whether it is cooking, gardening or playing Tai Chi.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
Ten years of sharing

What inspires your writing today?
The natural world and our relationship to it.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Jane Kenyon, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks), and Buson to name just a few

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
The Essential Haiku, Robert Hass
Chances Are… , Richard Russo

Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated during National Poetry Month in April. What’s your favorite poem to carry about or share with others?
“The Summer Day,” Mary Oliver.

Any last words?
Mary Oliver’s question at the end of “The Summer Day” inspires me each morning as I pull up my window shades to ask myself: So what are you going to do with this wild and precious day?


THE SUMMER DAY
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Evelyn Atreya lives in Guilford where she is a member and past president of the Guilford Poets Guild. She is a member of the Connecticut Poetry Society and attends its Greater New Haven Chapter workshops. Her poems have appeared in Caduceus, Long River Run, San Diego Poetry Annual, Plainsongs, Connecticut River Review, and in a chapbook, Olives, Now and Then, honoring Donald Hall on his 83rd birthday. Her first book, Regarding Rock, was published by Grayson Books in November 2015. Evelyn also is involved in the Guilford community as an active member of both the Guilford Rotary Club and the Leete’s Island Garden Club.

Featured Poet: Evelyn Atreya

Evelyn Atreya lives in Guilford where she is a member and past president of the Guilford Poets Guild. She is a member of the Connecticut Poetry Society and attends its Greater New Haven Chapter workshops. Her poems have appeared in Caduceus, Long River Run, San Diego Poetry Annual, Plainsongs, Connecticut River Review, and in a chapbook, Olives, Now and Then, honoring Donald Hall on his 83rd birthday. Her first book, Regarding Rock, was published by Grayson Books in November 2015. Evelyn also is involved in the Guilford community as an active member of both the Guilford Rotary Club and the Leete’s Island Garden Club.


Summer Sunday Memory

In the January cold,
wearing layers of protection
boots, hat, and gloves
as I scraped my windshield,
I imagined a lazy beach day:
wearing just my bathing suit,
I walk barefoot in the sand,
jump into the cool, salty water,
then sit in my beach chair
to soak up the sun
and read on my Kindle.

But, today, on this July Sunday
it is smoldering hot.
Without flipflops, the sand
burns the soles of my feet.
There is no cooling off
in the water because a bloom
of jellyfish is drifting by.
The beach is crowded with umbrellas
that offer spots of comforting shade,
but sitting and relaxing is impossible
because of pesky horseflies.

I know next winter,
I will daydream again about my ideal
summer Sunday beach day
completely forgetting
these discomforts and irritations.
Strangely, in summer
I never find myself
daydreaming of winter.


Sound Choices

This summer afternoon
gulls and terns soar
over the rippling tide
with relaxed assurance
that hunger will be satisfied.
Each repeatedly dives
to catch a glimmering bite.

Then I see one young tern,
wings frenetically beating,
hover like a helicopter
just above the water.
With a silvery fish in its beak
and another swimming below,
it must choose one.

I understand, I think to myself.
I, too, wild with desire
have faced impossible choices.


Locked Out

He shuffles to the front porch
and sits silently staring into space.
I ask for the key to the shed.
He shakes his head, not knowing.

A dumpster sits in the driveway
overflowing with the old and used.
Emptying the shed is the final
preparation for Dad’s move.

Sitting there, Dad reminds me
of that padlocked old, green shed,
both weathered with signs
of fading, flaking and rust spots.

Both hold mysteries locked in.
I’m locked out of both.


Coming Clean

This morning a teenager
arrives at the coffee shop
wearing a breezy summer dress
and heavy-duty combat boots.

I’m reminded of the snowy
egret’s radiant white plumes,
spindly legs and feet tucked
into enormous yellow galoshes.

Perhaps both, wading into life’s
murky waters, seek protection
so they come out clean,
even if they muck-up.