Guilford Poets Guild Celebrates National Poetry Month

The Guilford Poets Guild will celebrate National Poetry Month remotely this year, with a series of poetic posts here on its new and updated website. Members of the guild will be sharing their experiences as poets in a series of online interviews, as well as some of their favorite books and poems. Plus, learn about “30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month at Home or Online,” and more.

 
The GPG 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.
 
Membership is by invitation, and current members are Carol Leavitt Altieri, Evelyn Atreya, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Margaret Iacobellis, Karen Gronback Johnson, Norman Thomas Marshall, Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely, Jane Muir, Old Saybrook Poet Laureate Patricia Horn O’Brien, Sharon Olson, Jennifer A. Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, Jane Ulrich, Edward Walker, and Guilford Poet Laureate Gordy Whiteman.
 
The Guild recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the publication of its third anthology of poems, Our Changing Environment. You can support your local bookstore by purchasing copies from Breakwater Books in Guilford.
 
For more information about the Guilford Poets Guild, follow our Facebook page, @guilfordpoetsguild.
 
National Poetry Month poster, with permission from the Academy of American Poets. Artwork by Samantha Aikman

Fantastic Ekphrastic at Guilford Art Center

A poetry reading inspired by the Guilford Art Center’s 2020 Student Exhibition, held on Sunday, March 1. The event featured poems by the following Guilford poets guild members: Dan Goldberg, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Nan Meneely, Jane Muir, Pat O’Brien, Jen Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, and Gordy Whiteman.


Robert Thomas, Supply Pond Morning

 

A Dwelling Place
Daniel Goldberg

I am lost in a fathomless wood,
Pondering which way that I should turn,
Perhaps this way, to the left,
Or maybe that way, to the right;
I could go back the way I came,
If only I knew how.
Of course, there is always forward,
Towards an unseen obscure horizon,
Into the beckoning sun which peeks
Out from the endless trees,
Into the vast trackless unknown.

Besides my beating heart,
I can only hear the sounds
Of creaking branches, muffled
By quilts of frosty snow.

I am so tired, cold, and lonely,
Daylight is fading, darkness enclosing;
Shall I make a soft white bed
In the freshly fallen snow,
So that I might look up in solitude,
To view the scintillating stars
Between the branches and the trees.

I’m remembering a song that I had sung,
In choir back when I was young,
My high school days filled with fun;
I think by Brahms if I recall —
“How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place”.
As I hum this song, here alone,
I see how lovely are these trees,
And I don’t feel quite as cold or lonely.

 


Nora Kolbowski, Outcry

Three Curious Objects
Gwen Gunn

they could be plump birds on a fence
or from a distance penguins on an outcrop
heads tilted up mouths angular and open
fearful or angry in outcry

close up their forms are smooth and delicate
a variegated sealskin gray
like shells of slightly out-of-kilter eggs
from which something alive may soon emerge

feathered and finely boned perhaps
with beaks which have already pecked holes
creatures fragile and lovely as their homes
three phoenixes rising from the ashes

 


Linda Giannelli, Penguin Guarding Nest

Penguin Guarding Nest
Juliana Harris

I’m a fool for penguins
but it’s your eyes,
slightly askew,
that really grab me

I want to take you home,
add you to my collection
of your flock.
What a find!

 


Nina Rose, Girl Crocheting

 

Girl Crocheting
Juliana Harris

I am so moved
by your hunched shoulders,
your curled toes,
your clenched fingers,
I want to reach out,
give you a hug,
and say
“don’t fret…I’m here.”

 


Jane Stanton, Untitled

 

Sunflowers
Nan Meneely

Midsummer, there is little else
that satisfies the eye the way they do
in brilliant ranks along the road
or caught mid-garden in the worship
of a pagan god. They’ve lengthened
past the sedum with its hint of rust,
past daisies crowding out
the smaller blooms in curving beds,
the upper crossbar of the fence,
the ornamental grass.

They claim their place in the open
and warmth of nearly sky,
turn their faces to the sun,
pull against the bracing
of their roots to swivel slowly
till the light descends
below a fringe of cattails
in the marsh.

But August finds them heavy
with the weight of summer
taken hour on hour.
They bow in new humility.

 


Sarah Geragotelis, Turtle Island

 

The Water World
Jane Muir

Put the fins on your feet
Take a deep breath
Tumble backwards off the ladder
Let the weights around your waist
Sink you to the ocean’s floor.

I sat cross-legged
In this strange new world
Looked up at the ceiling
Of this water world

Its ceiling is the ocean’s surface
Here is the world where life began
But whose denizens don’t even know
Of the existence of my world beyond

This is the whole world to trillions
Of the ocean’s creatures
Who learn about my world
Only at the end of a hook

Two worlds estranged
Is there any trip I have ever taken
More different than this? No.
Not even if I had gone to the moon.

 


Mary Wargo, Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Italy

 

Beyond What You Know
Patricia O’Brien

Just at that spot the road
disappears from sight,
just where the river, once broad,

narrows and loses its light
to the reeds and wavering wall
of grassy might,

you stop, surprised by all
the aching clamor in your chest,
by tears rising to the pall

of mysteries beyond a crest
or stand of trees or sudden drop
on the path you’d kept from sadness.

Or so you’d tried. And without
a map to assure you what’s just
out of sight, you know, on the spot,

sorrow’s coming next …
But wait! Joys too will be waiting,
you remind yourself, quietly amidst

that absent scene, countervailing
weights against life’s uncharted pain.

 


Robert Thomas, Supply Pond Morning

 

Sanctified without Assistance
Jen Payne

This is sacred space.
It needs no adornment,
sanctified without assistance.

In the spring
sweet green rejoices,
sings hallelujah at the unfurl.

Then summer’s
broad leaf and life —
a grand chorus from hallowed woods.

In fall,
the bright colors
play a crescendoed reminder:

To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

Come winter,
bare-branch whispers
of hope promised, stored.

This is sacred space
without adornment,
adulation ever on.

 


Susan Doolittle, The Egg

 

Which came first…
Jen Payne

Who better to guard
the mountains than
Ursa Major

Great She Bear
mothers over
oak and pine,
where Noctua / Owl
keeps watchful eyes on
swayed grasses
grown by Eridanus.
Sister river flows
clean and pure,
sings bubbling songs to
Grus and Vulpecula —
crane and little fox —
running nearby

We can almost imagine Aquarius,
great water carrier
divine this lush, verdant sphere,
pour life from a star-crystal pitcher.

But man gives and man takes
hardly in equal measure —

The ghost of Lepus, rabbit,
runs quick from Orion
hunter and destroyer
wondering: is this your Eden before
or our Eden finally after?

 


Denise Casey, Brood

Brood #91
Elizabeth Possidente

How do I manage all this

when I am anywhere or nowhere

everywhere and someplace

in between what time there is

Or is not

I AM (am I not ?)

though I am imperfect

and perhaps unformed

yet perfect and fully formed

as this is all I am

My eye is always
on with or around
my beloveds

I search and call in our sounds

they follow and stray
follow and stray
and follow

playful in mud
joyous even in darkness

they giggle

I think about food
and where we’ll find it
our shelter in flux

We are fat and matted
messy

Our lives are full
of pleasure

and yearning


Louis E. King, Platter

While Grieving
Elizabeth Possidente

We talk about food again

after joking a bit

Pizza

Panne

Straciatella

Mozzarella

Pomodoro

But the vino is beautiful

e rosso

Bellissimo!

e buono!

Picante!

A taste of nuts

(nocciole)

A warm Adriatic breeze

meeting

alpine air

Picture tiny flowers

yellow pink pale blue white

along a bubbling stream in mountain valley

sunshine

soft rain

a cowbell in the distance

Ah!

 


Susanne Davis, Garden Delight

 

Garden Heritage
Gordy Whiteman

Today I am luxuriating in my vegetable garden,
digging up and breaking down clods of rich,
brown soil. Generations before me, on my father’s
side, grew their gardens.

There is a comfort in making room
for the hand-me-downs of the generations’ flow:
the easy patience to water, weed, loosen the soil,
feel the sun, the breeze; hear the buzz
of the pollinating bees.

When a young boy, I worked with my grandfather
setting poles for his beans and, in turn
my grandchildren have known the satisfaction
of shelling fresh-picked peas, pulling carrots
and radishes grown from seed that I have sown.
They, too, have sat on the back porch steps
with rhubarb stalks clenched in their hands
and the sugar bowl wedged between their knees.

Today, I am planting a new round of lettuce.
The peas and pole beans are sprouting.
I see signs of Swiss chard, acorn squash, zucchini,
and from the herb garden, the dill is peeping through.

Certainly, I could buy my beets and tomatoes
from the local green grocer but I honor
this gift from my forefathers to plant, grow and harvest.
My father, Tom –
My grandfather, William –
My great grandfather, Edward –
As with the soil, the blood runs rich and deep.

 


Victoria Brodaski, Apple Orchard

 

Mantra
Gordy Whiteman

Apple

Make it your own,
red or green or the deep maroon
of a New York Rome,
or, a Fuji, savored
for its snappy resistance
to your teeth’s
eager insistence for

Apple

If your appetite leans
toward Delicious, if your
dish is a MacIntosh,
Cortland, Winesap,
Granny Smith, whatever
you wish, make it your own

Apple

Meditate on cider, fresh
or hard, made from windfalls
strewn on the yard around
and under the tree.
Use the excess for strudel,
butter, sauce, a sugar-free pie of

Apple

Think of the curved, uneven shape –
The stem – the eye of your apple
Where a blossom had been.

Imagine a peeler in your one hand,
an apple in your other. Let the peel
dangle down, a red, green dappled
unchained bauble, as the peeler
exposes the snow-white

Apple

Consider its story starting
with Eve’s and Adam’s apple,
to Newton, to Tell, and a homework
reprieve stemming from the bribe
of a shining

Apple

From the ear of your mind
receive the sound of the bell
as the children bound from the school
into the autumn of pumpkin, maple,

Apple

Picture the apples on Bishop’s trees.
With look ma no hands and your eyes closed,
run through the seasons: trees in snow,
branches in blossom, summer growth,
pick your own. Touch the gnarl and bark.
Repeat this oath in the ephemeral dark:

Apple … Apple … Apple

Featured Poet: Karen Gronback Johnson

After living almost her whole life in CT, Karen Gronback Johnson and her husband retired three years ago to a farm in the mountains of Virginia. In her previous life Karen was a member of the clergy in East Haven, a police chaplain, and co-founder of East Haven United. She has been affiliated with members of Guilford Poets Guild since 1978 and now works with the Ridgeline Writers. Karen grows a lot of their own food and has recently taken up stained glass work.


Love After All

An unsuspecting swan trails
shining threads within its sapphire wake
A vivid branch flares red among
the dowdy leaves of late summer
Salt scent of turning tide
teases my soul to far off
places where you are as if
thirty years were some swift
accident of good fortune that
you should love me after
all this time.


Veranda Lullaby

Sky fades to dusty purple
Cicadas drone a rasping rattle
The hound barks at deer
unseen behind the scrim of trees
Hummingbirds vie for a turn
at the feeder chasing
and chattering

I seek no omen
no harbinger of good or ill
save fireflies
dancing for each other
I sit in the shelter of
the veranda that wraps
its arms around this house
and it is enough.


Snow will come

Predictions cast no doubt
The moon of early evening shrouds
herself in hoary cloud and I
am left uneasy with details
left undone as if the fact
of snow could silence
all as easily as
some sweet apocalypse
to make common all
disparities of circumstance
sifting mercy or disguised
by a forgiveness so deep
not one might escape the peace
that falls so gently
so relentlessly when the
snow will come.


Home Visit
After the painting High & Dry by Donna Favreau

It seems like just a couple years
but Margie tells me it’s six at least
because Morgan was only five last time
I came home A drive around town reveals
she may be right
the tackle shop now a pizza joint
the drug store closed and vacant
boards on the town dock giving in
to splinters and rot
Rounding the bend down Old Cove
and there’s Bart’s sailboat in a cradle
by the garage and I remember now
hearing that he’d passed and how
he loved that thing like a woman
and I almost wish I could stay
move back and reclaim the old life
but then there was a reason
I moved on.

GPG Welcomes Poet Charles Rafferty, March 12

The Guilford Poets Guild’s first Second Thursday Poetry Reading of 2020 welcomes poet Charles Rafferty. The reading will take place on Thursday, March 12 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Guilford Free Library.

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.

Remember to bring your own poem to share during the Open Mic which is open to accomplished and aspiring poets of all ages wishing to present one original composition to a live audience. Refreshments will be served after the reading. This event is free and open to the public.

Upcoming spring readings include: April 9 – Ginny Connors, May 14 – Guilford High School Poetry Contest Winners.

The Guilford Free Library is located at 67 Park Street in Guilford. Please register by phone (203-453-8282), online (guilfordfreelibrary.org) or in person. For more information about the Guilford Poets Guild, visit guilfordpoetsguild.org.

Guilford Art Center and the Guilford Poets Guild Present an Ekphrastic Poetry Reading in Conjunction with the GAC Student Exhibition

Join members of the Guilford Poets Guild as they present original poems inspired by selected works of art in Guilford Art Center’s 2020 Student Exhibition. The reading will take place Sunday, March 1, 2-4pm, and is free and open to the public.

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. For this event, members of the GPG will read their poems in response to selected works of art that are part of GAC’s Student Exhibition, which include works in a wide variety of media by current and recent adult students. The Poets Guild frequently holds ekphrastic readings (including last year at GAC, for the Faculty Exhibition), and always brings a fascinating perspective to works on view.

Guilford Art Center’s Student Exhibition is on view February 21 – March 6, with an opening reception on Friday, February 21, 5-7pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Art Center is located at 411 Church Street/Route 77 in Guilford.

The Guilford Art Center is a non-profit school, shop and gallery established to nurture and support excellence in the arts.  Through classes for adults and children, gallery programs, a shop of contemporary crafts, and special events, the Center fulfills its mission to provide opportunities for the public to participate in the arts, to experience their cultural and historical diversity, and to appreciate the process and product of creative work. 

For more information contact www.guilfordartcenter.org or 203.453.5947.