Circumference zine, an Online Poetry Journal by Pi, The Poetry Institute

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

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

Poems in a Pandemic: Awake

AWAKE
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

Despite my bamboo blind
clattering up, despite my elbow
seeking my fallen strap

to send it to my shoulder’s
angled quest, despite my eyelids,
aflutter with my window’s

close offer of a sparrow’s
still curiosity, she and I stare
each other into the speck of this hour,

neither she nor I adding anything
but the slender tether we allow. I
awake to how the sparrow

and I are in it
together. She, awake,
and without a word about It.

Ekphrastic May: Sharing a Room with Two Other Women

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

Sharing a Room with Two Other Women
in a print by Leonor Fini
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

From their alcove in the far wall
these women oversee my room. They calculate
the angles and arches my living etches
in its held-in space.

Damp hair wrapped in a towel,
the towel unwound,
………………………………….dropped,
Elbows and breasts.
The mirror’s response.

They have numbered my ribs,
the hinges of my spine.
Nights with lovers.
Nights alone.

They memorize my dreams,
their ridiculousness.

Their contents totter then slip
into dreaded water. Persons. Houses.
Silt follows. Daylight bounces
off the water’s surface.
………………………………….My room

is full of familiar objects.
I ask what shall I have for breakfast.
Shall I wear a flowered skirt?

Have I come a safe distance?

The women only pose more questions.
One, her nakedness revealed
yet held by a half-opened door,
appears to be bringing a gift.
A pink puff of something.

The second waits at a dressing table.
Her hands, poised gray spiders,
are arranged before a topography
of vials and glasses.

Perhaps one woman is the other’s memory.
Their gaze enters my hallway, mine
the narrow black recess
behind the two other women.

Poet Patricia Horn O’Brien

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 poet Patricia Horn O’Brien had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
I barely remember, except that time, sometime in high school that I fell madly (Yes, madly!) in love with a football player who, my father wondered, could possibly have the brainpower to play quarterback. In my broken heartedness I wrote a poem…something about walking away…slowly. Sadly. Well, you know…

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
I’m not sure this is the same poem as the footballer poem but here’s the opening line…“What makes you smile, oh, fat faced moon….” Like that.

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
Over the years I’ve kept journals…sort of essays, I guess, trying to make sense of life’s day-to-day gifts…and more often, challenges. This daily routine has helped me to stay curious. Thankful. Heartened. Or, when disheartened, to have a place to work it through.

My other “creative pursuit” I like to think, was my work as a social worker in the community of inner cities…New York and Bridgeport…where I learned to listen well, to widen my embrace of suffering and to find endless sources of wisdom, kindness, bravery and all the rest.

With my son and family, I recently wrote a memoir about my surrendering my son, Richard, for adoption and finding him 20 years later. The Laughing Rabbit: A Mother, or Son, and the Ties That Bind. Writing that book was facilitated by my longstanding habit of keeping a journal…a story, after all, is just that! BTW many poems I’d written over the years kept intruding themselves into my story. At first, I shooed them away. Then, I decided that they were intrinsic to our saga and I decided to let them have their say. I’m so glad I did!.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
The accidental death of my younger brother in an automobile accident (he was in his 30s) was an event that dropped me to my knees and brought me to my typewriter over and over again, looking for understanding. Comfort. To find the place of our story in humanity’s saga…We are, of course, not the only ones to suffer.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
About 14 – 15 years. One of my first meetings was at Pat Bullard’s house looking out over her rolling, careful garden surrounded by other, aspiring poets. I had moved only recently from Fairfield county and I remember thinking Guilford was heaven and, Imagine, so few miles from our last abode!!! And now, in 2020, I am still part of the heavenly chorus (so to speak) of our amazing group of poets where I am privileged to hear and offer poetry “in the works” and to be part of the workshop process.

What inspires your writing today?
Both misery and joy continue to move me. I think that being nothing more than fully awake gets me to poetry which, it seems, is always hovering close by. Of course, being awake takes some work. I’m a practicing Buddhist and find its call to meditation especially helpful in living fully…whether perfectly or, more likely, not!

Describe your poem-writing process.
My process is organic, I guess. Not seamlessly organic. Oh, no, it’s more like a mess…Just keeping awake to the mess. Noting it. Examining it. Getting a pen in my hand…or my lap top. My phone. And there’s a poem…or maybe not. I have also found workshops extremely helpful over the years…with Edwina Trentham, Don Barkin, Dick Allen, for example…to push me further than I ever thought I could go…and into areas I never dreamed would be/could be open to me.

Where do you like to write? With what?
Anywhere. Anytime. A keyboard is best for me. When I first heard about computers, I imagined poems would be waiting just on the other side of the screen. Bingo! Like that…Well, you know…

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
I am still in love with T.S. Eliot. Dostoyevsky. Melville. Kafka. (The dark outlook I found as a kid is still my go-to outlook.) My fellow poets in Guilford Poets Guild, CT River Poets are my constant source of inspiration and awe. Even levity!!

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. Lighthead by Terrance Hayes.

Any last words?
Yes. Be sure to write. Don’t be shy or let modesty dictate your behavior. Be sure to share what you write. The connection between writer and reader is where all the magic and the fun and the wisdom and the perfect confusion resides…


Patricia Horn O’Brien is a graduate of Columbia School of Social Work and has worked and volunteered as a social worker throughout her adult life. She’s a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and co-founded CT River Poets. She initiated the ongoing program, Paintings and Poetry, at Florence Griswold Museum. Her recent book, a memoir, The Laughing Rabbit: A Mother, A Son, and the Ties that Bind, chronicling the surrender of her son for adoption in 1962, her search for him, and their reunion in 1982, is available on Amazon or from the author at patriciaobrien1937@gmail.com. Pat is the author of When Less Than Perfect is Enough and Poet Laureate of Old Saybrook.

In the Time of…by Patricia Horn O’Brien

In the Time of…
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

for the poet’s mask: First:
blinders off. The ocean sparks despite
sky’s moody overcast. At your feet,
green shoots spike your gravel path.
Pink crowns cranky trees.

The nose, of course, must be
left free for the waft of bacon
from the back burner’s largest ring,
the bacon that, without sentimentally
you recall from your mother’s hearth.
Oh, not that at all, But from her stove,
alright, from your kitchen on the 7th Floor,
Apt. 7A, The Bronx. Your father,
hungover. Coffee perking to put him right.

Your mouth … who’d want to shut
a poet’s mouth, so ripe with this and
that to make certain everyone knows …
that last dash of light across
the shadowed sea … the clouds
hunkering mean, the gulls restless.
Hungry.

Finally, ears for nothing but to let
the useless mask drop free. Nothing but
to hear the gulls cry urgently.
Or so it seems to you. A cry that knows
every story and its indifferent end.

Did I say that? But no.
It’s the poet’s voice that knows
almost everything.

A Celebration of Art at Clinton Art Gallery

You are invited to a celebration of art, featuring GPG member Pat O’Brien, Lorraine Reiss, and Mary Volk. Pat, Lorraine, and Mary are poets who frequently attend and read their poetry at the gallery’s Sunday Series Poetry events. In addition to their poetry, they are artists! Clinton Art Gallery is proud to feature their art during the month of November 3rd to 24th.

Their Opening and Reception on Sunday, November 3 will take place between 2:00-4:00 pm. Refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public. An additional reception will take place on Clinton’s FIRST THURSDAY, November 7, between 4:00-7:00 pm

Clinton Art Gallery, 20 East Main Street, Clinton, CT. Parking: parallel parking on street ~ or ~ the old CVS parking lot ~ or ~ municipal parking lot across the street

Patricia Horn O’Brien at Acton Public Library

Thursday June 13, 2019
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Acton Public Library
60 Old Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook

On Mother’s Day of 2017 Richard Manders, asked his mother, GPG poet Pat O’Brien, if she’d like to collaborate with him in writing a book about their journey through adoption, separation, reunion, and the years that followed. Thanks to that invitation, the book, The Laughing Rabbit: A Mother, A Son, And the Ties that Bind was written. Through its collection of chapters, by Richard and his mother, Pat, along with chapters by other family members, the book narrates a story that started in 1962 with chaos and heartache, a story that turned a momentous corner in 1982 with a reunion, and a story that continues today, with love and healing and ongoing wonder. Books will be available for purchase.

Free and open to all.

Click here for more information. Registration is suggested as seating is limited and is available one month prior to the event.