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: Stairway to the Stars

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

STAIRWAY TO THE STARS
by Juliana Harris

All the paintings in my home
have great personal meaning,
either because I know the artist,
or they were gifts for a special occasion.

But one painting in particular
has special importance to me.
The picture of a young child
climbing a ladder to reach for the stars.

This is part of a mural
my then three-year-old grandchild
helped create for a project
at her nursery school.

It makes me smile
each time I look at it.

Poem-a-Day

April is NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month. It’s an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem every day in the month of April.

NaPoWriMo was conceive by poet Maureen Thorson and inspired by NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Maureen started writing a poem a day for the month of April back in 2003, posting the poems on her blog. When other people started writing poems for April, and posting them on their own blogs, Maureen linked to them. After a few years, so many people were doing NaPoWriMo that Maureen decided to launch an independent website for the project: www.napowrimo.net.

Guilford Poets Guild members Jen Payne and Juliana Harris are writing a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

“I have never had the discipline to write every day,” says Juliana, who posts her poems on her Facebook page. “I‘m finding the concentration to write a poem a day is a lifesaver in this time of self-isolation.”

“I agree with Julie,” says Jen, who posts poems on her blog. “Writing can be very grounding. It’s nice to sink my toes into the daily practice.”

If writing a poem a day feel daunting, how about reading a Poem-a-Day?

The American Academy of Poets hosts Poem-a-Day, a daily digital poetry series featuring over 250 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo serves as guest editor for April 2020. Click here to visit Poem-a-Day now.

Poet Juliana Harris

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 Juliana Harris had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
I think it’s hereditary…my grandmother was a poet, as was my aunt.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Yes…the first poem I remember writing was a class assignment when I was a sophomore in high school. The topic was “Spring” and, unbeknownst to me, my teacher submitted it to a state wide literary contest where it won honorable mention. The only award I’ve ever won for a poem!

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I have written ad copy, magazine articles, essays, two novels, one chapbook of poems and am about to release my first mystery, Murder at the Tavern: A Guilford Mystery. I am also an actress and a singer/songwriter.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
When my poem was purchased and published!

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I joined the Guild in 2008 after being introduced to the group by my dear friend, Yvonne Scott. I find our meetings a constant source of inspiration and am grateful for the wonderful friendship.

What inspires your writing today?
Life.

Describe your poem-writing process.
I will see or hear something and it will start buzzing at the back of my brain, ultimately making it into words to share at a Guild meeting!

Where do you like to write? With what?
I write at my desk on my laptop.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Billy Collins is my favorite poet…too many authors to list!

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
Writers & Lovers by Lily King

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?
Life Has Loveliness to Sell by Sara Teasdale


LIFE HAS LOVELINESS TO SELL
Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.


Guilford Poets Guild President Juliana Harris remembers writing her first poem when she was a freshman in high school for a school assignment. The poem went on to win a prize in a statewide contest and she has been writing poems and essays ever since. Her work has appeared in publications across the country and her two novels are available on Amazon.com: The Fork in the Road and Pacific Heights. Her third novel, Murder at the Tavern: A Guilford Mystery, comes out later this spring. An award-winning professional actress, she is also a singer/songwriter and is currently at work on her third CD. She receives constant artistic stimulation from her participation in the Guilford Poets Guild and has compiling a chapbook of her poems, Portraits, about her family with the help and support of Guild members. She joined forces with guitarist Stephen Roane to form The Harris/Roane Duo in 2008. The Duo has performed concerts across the state and are recording their third CD.

Featured Poet: Juliana Harris

Juliana Harris remembers writing her first poem as a freshman in high school. The poem went on to win a prize in a statewide contest and she has been writing poems and essays ever since. Her work has appeared in publications across the country, and she has published two novels, a chapbook of her poems (Portraits) and is currently at work on her first mystery. An award-winning professional actress, Julie is also a singer/songwriter with two CDs to her credit. She and guitarist, Stephen Roane, tour the state as The Harris/Roane Duo. She currently serves as president of the Guilford Poets Guild, and was a member of the committee that produced the Guild’s third anthology, Our Changing Environment.


Lillian Hellman, Eat Your Heart Out

Mother chose the perfect hat
for her appearance
in front of the HUAC—

a snappy straw boater
trimmed in black
with just a wisp of a veil.

I can see her now,
amid the chaos
of pounding gavels and popping flashbulbs,

demure and brave in black crepe—
the hat adding just the right note
of insouciance.

What a pity
the committee
never summoned her.


On the Train to Manhattan

I have a panoramic view
of the incoming passengers.
A soldier boards at Stratford,
dressed in sage and khaki camouflage,
combat boots the color of desert sand.
He turns and takes a seat
revealing the face of an El Greco saint,
stares straight ahead through sunken eyes
until disembarking at Grand Central
where he is swallowed in the throng.

I pray his tour of duty has come to an end.


Past Glory

Autumn lingers

on this winding lane.

A naked maple,

once splendid,

basks in the radiant carpet

of its fallen leaves.


My Sister Is Afraid

she is losing her mind.
which is not surprising,
considering the strain of madness
which pervades our family
like a dark stream
snaking its way
through an underground cavern.

Our grandmother
began her descent into despair
with blinding migraines
progressing into a darkness
which kept her immobilized.
When I asked her how she could endure shock therapy
she answered, If you felt as I do,
you would do anything to make it stop.

Our aunt,
gifted by vengeful gods
with beauty and talent,
fought the same demon
in a different way.
Her symptoms manifest
in maladies
which literally crippled her,
leaving her helpless on her own bed of pain.

And now the cup has passed
to my sister,
who echoes words
I remember from other lips.
…..I can’t cope.
…..I’ m afraid.
And I wonder
why I have been spared.