Vermont Poetry Newsletter: January 16 2009

[This is a newsletter I receive on a regular basis from Ron Lewis. I did not write this. But I am posting it here as a resource for others interested in Vermont happenings.]

Vermont Poetry Newsletter
Your Poetry & Spoken Word Gateway in the Green Mountain State

Newsletter Editor’s Note

  • The Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network is made up of people of all
    backgrounds, ages and skills who appreciate the craft of poetry and
    want to promote it in the beautiful state of Vermont. The network
    consists of a free e-mail list, an eventual web site, workshops, open
    mics, poetry performances and other literary events. The network
    provides opportunities to meet local poets, talk about and enjoy
    poetry, and motivate and inspire yourself in whatever writing
    projects you are involved.

January 16, 2009 – In This Issue:

  1. Writing Assignments/Suggestions/Exercises/Prompts
  2. Inauguration PoemsInauguration Poem Story – Robert Frost
  3. JFK Library Gets Famous Frost Inauguration Poem
  4. April Ossmann’s Poetry Workshops
  5. Poetry Reading at Red Hen Bakery & Café
  6. Carol Muske-Dukes California Poet Laureate
  7. Hayden Carruth Memorial Fund
  8. In Memoriam: Chris White
  9. In Memoriam: W.D. Snodgrass
  10. A Green Mountain Idyll-Poems for Hayden Carruth
  11. Did You Know? Poet Sonia Sanchez was in Middlebury?
  12. Ponderings – Latest Broadway Play “Romantic Poetry”
  13. Poetry Quote (Maxwell Bodenheim)
  14. US Poets Laureate List
  15. Linebreak Poem
  16. Copper Canyon Press Poem
  17. American Life in Poetry Poem
  18. Vermont Poets Past and Present Project
  19. Vermont Poet Laureates
  20. Contact Info for Publisher of VPN: Ron Lewis
  21. Year-Round Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  22. Other Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  23. Year-Round Poetry Writing Centers in Vermont
  24. Poetry Event Calendar

Dear Friends of Poetry:

The Otter Creek Poets will be meeting in the Ilsley Library’s Vermont
Room (upstairs) on Thursday, January 22nd. If you’re interested in
joining the Otter Creek Poets, please see the information on
workshops, found near the tail end of this email.

Speaking of new members, poets Kelly Moss Chitwood and Fay Levitt
have become the newest members of the Otter Creek group. We welcome
them into this wonderful association of writers. New members have to
ask themselves in reading their first poem to the group, “What do you
look for in bringing a poem to a workshop?” or “What part in the poem
do you say to yourself, I’ve said it, or that’s what I was trying to
get out.” Food for thought.

April is National Poetry Month and it is sooner than you think.
David Weinstock of the Otter Creek Poets is now taking suggestions
for guest speakers, guest poets, and other events in celebration of
the art and its month. They have four Thursdays to plan for, April
2, 16, 23 and 30. (April 9 is the first night of Passover.) If you
have any interesting program ideas for us to mull over, please let me
know and I will pass them on to David.

There has already been serious discussion about an Otter Creek Poets
Anthology, which will be it’s 4 such collection. For OCP’s, it’s
time to begin getting your best 3 or 4 poems together for possible
publication. From what I’ve seen during the past year, this should
be an amazing compilation.

For those OCP members thinking about writing a poem about slide
rules, and I’ve heard the subject batted around a bit, there will be
a slide rule lesson in Middlebury at the Ilsley Public Libary on
Sunday, January 25th, at 2:00. Learn how to do complex calculations
with the tool that predates the calculator. Bring your old slide
rule, if you can find it; look next to the lava lamp! Led by John
Wesley; for additional info, 388-4095.

Ron Lewis
VPN Publisher
247-5913

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1.)

THIS WEEK’S
WRITING ASSIGNMENT/SUGGESTION/EXERCISE:


WRITE ABOUT MONEY

  • The best way to find an original poem is to take up a new subject, one that formerly has been considered unsuitable for poetry. In the 1950s, the personal lives of American men became possible to write about. In the 1960s and 70s, the lives of women joined the list of topics. Which topics are still out of bounds? I suggest that for nextweek, you write a poem about money, in any of its roles and disguises.


LAST WEEK’S
WRITING ASSIGNMENT/SUGGESTION/EXERCISE:

  • Poet Elizabeth Alexander has been chosen to read a poem at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. She’s a good sport for taking the gig, because no matter how good she is, other poets will make fun of her until the end of time. Not to mention all the things that might go wrong. Remember how Robert Frost forgot his reading glasses and could not read the poem he had composed for JFK’s inauguration in 1961? Of course, inauguration organizers have a backup plan. It’s YOU..

Assignment:

  • If Ms. Alexander cannot read her inauguration poem for whatever reason, you have been selected as her understudy. Please write a poem to suit (or disrupt) the occasion and bring it on Jan. 15. Limit: 100 lines.

Good luck!

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In thinking about the inauguration poem you’ll be hearing on the
20th, or if you’re trying to do last week’s Otter Creek Poets
assignment, you might be interested in these 9 inauguration poems by
9 prominent poets, and how they handled it.

Odes to Obama: A poem or 2 for the new president

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Poets don’t typically write to order. You can’t just call them up and ask them for a poem. Not even for an inauguration. But The Associated Press did ask. And they did write.The inauguration of a new president just seems to be a fitting time for poetry, and so 10 American poets accepted the AP’s invitation to come up with a little something to mark Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency.

The poems came from an eclectic assortment of American wordsmiths, ranging from a former poet laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner to a self-described “cowboy poet.”

Billy Collins, U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003, submitted “launch,” containing shimmery imagery of a boat set afloat under “the sun’s golden rafters.”

In “Making the News,” Californian Gary Soto wrote about setting a match to the newspaper and letting “the bad years go up in a question mark of smoke.”

Novelist and poet Julia Alvarez, who spent her first 10 years in the Dominican Republic, wrote a rebuttal to the poem that Robert Frost had recited at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. Alvarez remembers watching Kennedy’s inauguration and being fascinated with the “old, cranky, white-haired man” who recited “The Gift Outright.” Later, she studied the poem and came to see it as overlooking huge swaths of the U.S. population.

Frost’s poem focused on the American colonists from England and stated that “The land was ours before we were the land’s.” Alvarez countered that “The land was never ours, nor we the land’s: no, not in Selma, with the hose turned on, nor in the valley picking the alien vines. Nor was it ours in Watts, Montgomery – no matter what the frosty poet said.”

Themes of change and hope were everywhere in the poems.

In “The Procession,” Yusef Komunyakaa wrote that “Each question uncurls a little whip in the air. Can we change tomorrow?”

In “The World Has Changed,” Alice Walker, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Color Purple,” exhorted readers to “wake up & smell the possibility.”

Almost as poetic as some of the poems that arrived were the comments of poets who either said they’d give it a try, or who wouldn’t think of it.

Nathaniel Mackey explained that writing an inaugural ode would be a challenge because “I tend to write in a rather dark vein.” Nothing came of his pledge to try.

Sandra Cisneros wouldn’t make any promises, writing that “I just go to sleep, and it’s just born or it’s not.” It wasn’t.

Charles Simic, another former poet laureate, said “it’s impossible to say yes or no. … I can’t write to order. … When do you need it by?” His good intentions didn’t bear fruit.

New Yorker Sharon Olds deemed her efforts unworthy. “It’s as I suspected,” she e-mailed. “I’m not able to come up with anything near good enough, tho I used a lot of paper!”

Andrei Codrescu, who was born in Romania and became a U.S. citizen in 1981, wasn’t one even to venture a try. “I voted for Obama, but I grew up under Ceausescu,” Codrescu wrote of the former Romanian dictator. “The idea of writing poems for people in power gives me the creeps.”

There was some modesty among those who did venture to write something.

Soto – winner of too many poetry prizes to list – sent his in with the instructions: “feel free to edit.”

Alvarez sent hers along with the caveat that “it’s in the nature of occasion poems to be somewhat disposable.”

The AP set no ground rules for the poems. But poet David Lehman, editor of the Best American Poetry series, decided his should meet the same guidelines as those established for an inaugural ode contest sponsored by the poetry series that he edits. Writers were required to use at least three of six designated words (integrity, faith, change, hope, power and honor.) Lehman managed to work five into a poem that offered Obama the wish that “May God, in this winter hour, shine on your countenance and teach you to balance the heart’s poetry and the mind’s power.”

Digital poet Christopher Funkhouser bypassed the whole words-on-paper realm to create a swirl of bouncing letters and words that form and re-form on a video screen. He ended up creating three poems, explaining: “I couldn’t manage to do just one!” You can see them at: http://wepress.org/inauguration/

Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club in New York, happened to be in West Africa filming a documentary on oral storytellers when the request for a poem arrived. He drew inspiration from his surroundings to write “Africa goes for Obama!”

Cowboy poet Ted Newman penned a plea to Obama to “be the president our country needs.”

Amiri Baraka, former poet laureate of New Jersey, took a short cut and sent in something he’d written about Obama last February: “Imagine Obama Talking To A Fool.”

One of the poets who didn’t respond to the AP’s invitation was poet Elizabeth Alexander. It turns out she’ll be reciting an original poem at the inauguration.

Apparently, Obama’s invitation took priority over the AP’s.

Poems for the inauguration of Barack Obama

Launch

A boat is sliding into the water today
to test the water and the boat

which glides down a grassy bank
the prow touching the wavelets

then another push
and the length of it up and buoyant

the tapered length of it floating
toward the middle on its own

as we watch from the shore
pointing to the heavy clouds coming in

from every side
but now above us only the sun’s golden rafters

and the boat afloat
out there on the bright surface of the water.

by Billy Collins.

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The land was never ours, nor we the land’s:
no, not in Selma, with the hose turned on,
nor in the valley picking the alien vines.
Nor was it ours in Watts, Montgomery–
no matter what the frosty poet said.
We heard the crack of whips, the mothers’ moans
in anthems like an undertow of grief.
The land was never ours but we believed
a King’s dream might some day become a deed
to what we did not own, though it owed us.
(Who had the luxury to withhold himself?)
No gift outright for us, we earned this land
with sorrows currency: our hands, our backs,
our Rosas, Martins, Jesses our Baracks.
Today we give our land what we withheld:
the right at last to call itself one nation

–By Julia Alvarez.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Julia Alvarez. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, New York and Lamy, NM. All rights reserved.

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Making the News

It’s not right to burn newsprint,
The stink of ink in the air,
But I have to crumple at least a few pages
And strike a match in the fireplace–
The bad years go up in a question mark of smoke.

Or should I make confetti from the sports section,
Or shape a dunce hat from the business page–
I, the investor in rubber bands
That shot me in the foot.

Or should I cut out coupons–
Two cans of soup for the price of one.
Or, for a laugh, should I spread open the comics
On the kitchen table and string a macaroni necklace,
The playground craft I could master.

I choose smoke and fire,
The sting in my eyes on this January day,
And poke a wreath of newspaper
Until it crackles with a steady fire.

Let’s air out the square and oval rooms.
Let’s wave at a dog frolicking on the lawn.
Let’s hear children and the tap of rain on a tulip.
Let’s welcome the new resident to our house,
His handshake strong from the clasp of so many.

–By Gary Soto.


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The Procession

Yes, the dust of the Great Migration
is in our dreams & on the soles of our feet,
but we can foxtrot into this bandaged season
limping toward us from the fog. Each question
uncurls a little whip in the air. Can we change
tomorrow? Can we love what’s in the deep mirror
& trace fault lines beneath nocturnal streets?
Loneliness & anger always know the road home.
Now the long-lost ones stand at the threshold
& gaze into our eyes. Please don’t turn away,
don’t retreat into caves of artificial light
& borrowed lowly laughter brimming up.
There’s a hard, long road ahead. Nights
&days ahead, one foot in front of the other.

Days ahead, one foot in front of the other
is how we ascend Jacob’s tangled ladder.
Bring your lantern & philosopher’s stone,
your pick & shovel, ball of twine, hook
& sinker, your slide ruler & plumb bob.
There’s some faithful work to be done
on this hill & down in the valley, too.
Bring your running shoes & baseball cap.
I tell you, I’m no one’s Benjamin Banneker,
but I know a cul-de-sac is a whiplash
& slipknot. Sometimes you have to bow
to self-given thorns, or weave around a body
of water. Some things you argue against
or for, & then you go straight through bedrock.

You have to go straight through bedrock
to find hope, I said. You can’t kill the past
to erase a page. Cut out a tongue singing delta,
& still a windy lamentation crests the hilltop.
Burn odes into ash to smear on the forehead,
but still the laconic cricket calls the night
to sing deeds, blasphemies, & allegories
droning beneath the earth’s blueprint.
Yes, even if we parade in secondhand garb
as priestly nobodies, the Daylight Boys,
or other heretical truth-seekers, we know
weeping isn’t a fly in a spider’s web.
If you can’t see hunger on our streets,
at least remember hard songs left behind.

At least remember hard songs left behind
on fields from Concord to the Green Zone.
Our maps go to the edge of a lost frontier,
following every unsolved riddle & tributary,
indigenous souls still in the drizzle & bog
grass, behind hedgerows–beyond imagination.
Now there’s one sky, with holes in the ozone.
Limitless steps across snow recast star charts.
All the old gods gaze at us like deathwatch
beetles, waiting to see what we do with this hour.
Let Walt Whitman put his lips to your ear
as he rocks the dead of north & south in his arms.
Words taproot down to what we are made of,
& these hosannas are ours to surrender to.

These hosannas are ours to surrender to
till laurel & olive branch into our footpath,
an eruption of blooms overtaking our heads.
We’re here to honor those who came before,
who gladly or sadly gave themselves back
to earth. You know their names. We know
who stood & never lost ground. We know
who knelt beside their contraband drums
& depended on hawthorn to guard them.
Sunlight & water draw roots deep as seed
& oath; their sway & pull can bend an oak
over a grand monument. Evermore pours
from a beggar’s tin cup as one thousand
clocks strike inside the stone base.

Clocks strike inside the stone base.
The mainsprings are about to be adjusted
& oiled. For the first time in decades
the blindfold has slipped off her face,
& we are now seeing her true reflection
on the harbor. The shortcuts tell us, no,
the winding road isn’t a second guess,
& one could risk one’s life getting here.
Where I stand in splendor, at this point
of view, surely, it is already Springtime.
How could it not be? The Sunday-go-to-
meeting clothes, the bright hats cocked
at the true angle that slays blue devils.
How could it not be? This is the hour.

How could it not be? This is the hour
beckoning the North Star & drinking gourd,
waist-deep shadows crossing the Ohio River,
& I hear Fredrick Douglass’ voice in a brisk
shiver of dry leaves, saying, “When the dogs
in your streets, when the fowls of the air,
when the cattle on your hills, when the fish
of the sea, & then reptiles that crawl”
The rattle of night pods is the only shaman
at this late hour. Secret markers run
from flatland to river town, pale desert
to mountain, grassland to autumn skyline.
From here I see a lighthouse, love of the planet
bringing a polar bear back to its ice floe.

By Yusef Komunyakaa.

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The World Has Changed

The World Has Changed:
Wake up & smell
The possibility.
The world
Has changed:
It did not
Change
Without
Your prayers
Without
Your faith
Without
Your determination
To
Believe
In liberation

Kindness;
Without
Your
Dancing
Through the years
That
Had
No
Beat.
The world has changed:
It did not
Change
Without
Your
Numbers
Your
Fierce
Love
Of self

Cosmos
It did not
Change
Without
Your
Strength.

The world has
Changed:
Wake up!
Give yourself
The gift
Of a new
Day.

The world has changed:
This does not mean
You were never
Hurt.
The world
Has changed:
Rise!
Yes

Shine!
Resist the siren
Call
Of
Disbelief.
The world has changed:
Don’t let
Yourself
Remain
Asleep
To
It.

By Alice Walker
(Copyright (c) 2008 by Alice Walker.)

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Poem for Obama

We want a hero, an uncommon one,
The common wisdom being that integrity
In an age of irony is as unlikely as fun
On jury duty and equally as vital to the city,

The state, and the nation. Put the likelihood
Of rejection and the inevitability
Of injustice on one side; the ability
Of free people to choose their livelihood

On the other; and though hope is genteel
And faith obsolete, yet breathes there
A man or woman who cannot feel
The charge of the change in the air?

May God, in this winter hour,
Shine on your countenance
And teach you to balance
The heart’s poetry and the mind’s power.

By David Lehman.

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PLEA TO THE PRES

BAILOUTS FOR THE BIG GUYS
BUY BACK THEIR ROTTED FRUIT
FORGET THE CANOPY OF GOLD
IT’S THE PLATINUM PARACHUTE.

NO ONE INDICTS THE AUTHORS
GUYS LIKE FRANK AND DODD
THEY SAY SHOW ME THE MONEY
WE’LL BAIL YOU OUT BY GOD.

THE FRED AND FANNY WATCHDOGS
WITH OUR MONEY PLAY SO LOOSE
THEY BORROW US INTO SERFDOM
AS THEY KILL THE GOLDEN GOOSE.

THEY POSTURE AND PONTIFICATE
AS THEY DIVIDE THE LOOT
THEN REWARD THE BIG CONTRIBUTORS
WITH PLATINUM PARACHUTES.

THE DOUBLESPEAK AND DOUBLETALK
OF LEADERS PSUEDO-BRAVE
MORTAGAGE CHILDREN’S FUTURES
AS THEY TAX US TO THE GRAVE.

THANKS TO CORRUPT LEADERSHIP
AND IGNORANCE TO BOOT
THEY’LL SAVE US THE UNWASHED MASSESS
WITH PURE LEAD PARACHUTES.

SO PLEASE MR. OBAMA
DON’T LET THEM PLAY THEIR GAMES
DON’T LET THE LIES CONTINUE
DON’T LET THEM HIDE THE BLAME.

BE THE PRESIDENT OUR COUNTRY NEEDS
LET’S REALLY REARRANGE
THE POLITICAL HYPOCRACY
KEEP YOUR WORD AND BRING US CHANGE.

By Ted Newman

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Imagine Obama Talking To A Fool

To Lead, is what
We fought We fighting now, We been
At war For equality, equal citizenship
Rights. Are those ours, No, no yet.
Our struggle Self Determination
Is always by the moment, is on us
Always, as our skin is, gleaming
Inside & outside w/ the fulfilled beauty
Of promise, as an eye arrow streaks
Through the darkness toward itself at
Thousands of miles an hour.
We are ourselves always
Full of ourselves. What we know
Is boundless as our everybody
All our hands & muscles, our swiftness
Is itself a thought & not a thought
But a being, a seeing, that, yes,
We want to lead, we are not fools
Or forever weaker than that self that cd
Be him, them, her, they, we can raise this
Stupid filthy place, we can strangle foolishness
Where it lurks and hurl it into hah hahs
Of imbecility. Why wd you taunt a person
With skeletons challenged by
The enlightenment?
So they turn the hood backwards
&now can see nothing
But how their weak breath
Makes the bedsheet soggy.
Yes, we can. Lead! We will anyway.
But we want to lead. Whats wrong
With that? We can!
And with all this mountain pile
Of wrong, backward, dumb,
Dishonest, boring, filthy
Thing you or they have created
This thing that we us I have
Hated, It can not be a surprise
That someone else shd see this world
Through their own eyes. Yes,
I want to lead. You have
Already failed.
We have all heard those songs
Those tales. I want to lead
You have already failed!

By Amiri Baraka
Feb. 10, 2008

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Africa Goes for Obama!

In Bamako, the koras can’t stop singing praises
Of the African king named Barack Obama.
You can talk all you want
in the courtyard
under the mango tree,
But these harps know their stories, revel
In contradiction’s harmony.
A song that consumes history.

Meanwhile, in Timbuktu
The shirt off my back
Spirited off in high-fived exuberance
Barack Obama’s face
Lifted in 2008 Sahara sandstorm

Lifting off from Dakar, Leopold
Senghor – they name their airports
After Poet-Presidents here —
An “I Made it to Timbuktu
And Back!” t-shirt on my back

Back to Union Square, 14th Street,
New York City, flying Middle Passage
Route of Bones Fair Trade Agreement

By Bob Holman

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2.)

And, if you didn’t know the story behind our own Robert Frost, and his own attempt at an inaugural poem, here you are:

FROST DEDICATES JFK OUTRIGHT

For John F Kennedy’s inauguration as President of the United States Robert Frost wrote a new poem entitled, “Dedication”. Like many others he conceived the new president as young Lochinvar, the perfect combination of spirit and flesh, passion and toughness, poetry and reality:

“… The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young amibition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.”

But the poet was old (87) and he couldn’t see the words because of the sun’s glare that bright, cold January day. The poem’s newness to him and his unfamiliarity with and uncertainty about the way it went caused him to stumble uncertainly with his voice and tone and he gave up. Instead he fell back on an old one he knew perfectly, and in the most splendidly commanding of voices, recited it impeccably:

~ The Gift Outright ~

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia.
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak.
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.
~ Robert Frost; 1874-1963 ~

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3.)

And, here’s a little more history for you – very interesting! What’s in blue is truly unforgettable.

JFK Library Gets Famous Frost Poem
By NANCY RABINOWITZ
The Associated Press
Friday, April 21, 2006; 5:38 PM

BOSTON — The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum has obtained the original version of the poem that Robert Frost prepared for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, but never read in its entirety because of the glare of the sun.

At Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration, Frost, who was 86 at the time, stood at the podium reading the beginning of “Dedication,” a poem he wrote by hand, then typed for easier reading at the inauguration. But after trying to use a hat borrowed from Vice President Lyndon Johnson to shield the page from bright sun glancing off the snow, Frost recited his poem, “The Gift Outright,” from memory.

Frost had intended to deliver a full reading of “Dedication” before reciting “The Gift Outright.”

The museum received the original handwritten poem this week from the estate of Frederick Holborn, one of President Kennedy’s special assistants, who died last June.

“It is such a remarkable piece of American history and culture. It is just wonderful to have it back home,” said Deborah Leff, the museum’s director.

The poem speaks of the rise of American democracy and its affect on the world. At the bottom of the original version of the poem, Frost wrote, “To John F. Kennedy, At his inauguration to be president of this country. January 20th, 1961. With the Heart of the World,” followed by, “Amended copy, now let’s mend our ways.”
The document is being sent to a conservator because the material used to frame it is causing acid damage, said Brent Carney, a spokesman for the JFK Library and Museum. After it is returned to the museum, officials plan to display it in one of the museum’s galleries, though they aren’t yet certain which one.

Jacqueline Kennedy had the poem framed for the president to hang in the White House and wrote a now barely legible note to the president on brown paper on the back of the frame. The note was not discovered until museum archivist James M. Roth removed the paper from the frame this week.

Roth said the note reads, “For Jack, January 23, 1961. First thing I had framed to put in your office. First thing to be hung there.”

“There is no signature but it’s definitely her handwriting,” Roth said.

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4.)

Thinking Like a Poetry Editor: How to Be Your Own Best Critic

(“The Ossmann Method” Poetry Workshop – Crash Course)

Instructor: April Ossmann
The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Saturday, January 17th OR Saturday, February 14th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$45

Learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. Participants will receive written editorial suggestions for both poems from the instructor. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8. Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com

The Ossmann Method Poetry Workshop: Building Your Tool Kit
Instructor: April Ossmann
The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Sundays, 8 weeks, January 18th – March 8th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$200

Build or improve your poetic techniques tool kit and learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. This workshop will be both critical and generative, so I will assign reading and generative exercises meant to teach or improve writing skills. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8 (minimum enrollment for the course to proceed is 4). Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com

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5.)

Please join us!
Poetry Reading at the Red Hen Bakery & Café
Celebrate Robert Burns’ 250th Birthday with our own Scottish Poet Len Irving

Sunday
January 25, 6:30 pm
Route 2 in Middlesex Village

Come and read poetry – your own or your favorites – or listen to others.

More info? Call Earline at 223-6777
The Red Hen Bakery is open at this time only for the poetry reading.

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6.)

Carol Muske-Dukes, California’s new poet laureate, on her post alifornia’s new poet laureate considers the seeming contradictions of the post and how to approach its potential.

By Carol Muske-Dukes
December 12, 2008

Could there be an honorific less American-sounding than poet laureate? The title conjures images of a laurel wreath askew on the pale brow of a loitering bard — scribbling couplets beside a throne (“I am his Highness’ dog at Kew; / Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?”) British poets laureate write occasional verse to celebrate royal birthdays, ship christenings and Tube station openings. As California’s new poet laureate, I haven’t been asked to write a sonnet or triolet in honor of Gov. Schwarzenegger, who appointed me last month, nor a pantoum in honor of Maria Shriver — and I don’t expect to have to honor such a request. The governor and first lady clearly admire the idea of the poet laureate without insisting on a job description or the odd panegyric.

In Britain, the poet laureate remains a half-jester, half-noble figure. In the U.S., we remain “half-cracked,” as Emily Dickinson said. We have a poetry tradition — a “Body Electric” anarchic romance — which gives rise to our present poetry polyglot: neo-formalist, plain style, abstract, imagist, l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e, ethnic, feminist, mystical, abcderian, post-colonial, lyric-narrative or minimalist, William-Carlos-Williams-take-the damn-refrigerator-note- down-and-mix-me-a-plum-daiquiri schools of poetry.
Poetry is, like prayer, spun from the imagination — from ultimate contradiction — like the idea of a democratic crown. Who’s lucky or brazen enough to wear this headgear? I’m brazen enough to bow my head and gratefully accept the honor. Born in Minnesota, I teach creative writing at the University of Southern California, have written books of poems and, for years, wrote a poetry review column for this newspaper. Our governor was born in Austria and his first lady was born into an American “royal” family sprung from Irish immigrants. Each of us, with our homegrown or immigrant souls, has an idea of what sort of poetry should come out of the state — whether it should sound like Gary Snyder, Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth Rexroth or Robert Frost (born in San Francisco), or like Sor Juana, Carolyn Kizer, Jane Hirschfield, Marilyn Chin or Harryette Mullen. In a letter, Maria Shriver told me that California women are “trailblazers” in everything they do. I agree — in particular about poets, those psychic pioneers.
There’s the answer, I think, to who or what a “poet laureate” is in this republic: There are no rules, the path is open. The first California poet laureate (appointed in 1915) was Ina Coolbrith, who blazed a way through the wilderness, literally. She was born in Nauvoo, Ill., as Josephine Donna Smith. Her father was Don Carlos Smith, a brother of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Her mother fled Mormon polygamy with her second husband and her young daughter, traveling by covered wagon to California. (In the Golden State, Josephine Donna Smith reinvented herself as Ina Coolbrith to escape the history of the Smith name.) Coolbrith was outspoken, generous — a librarian and a teacher-mentor to the young Jack London — and fast friends with writers like Joaquin Miller, but her poems were steeped in a high tea lavender style. Even a poem called “California Poppy” sounded a bit like hapless British laureate Colley Cibber:

Not all proud Sheba’s queenly offerings
Could match the golden marvel of thy blooms.

She was most certainly a trailblazer — and she was free to write about whatever she wished, in whatever style she chose. California was her refuge and source of her literary reputation. And yet, her 21st century reader cannot help but wonder what a poem about fleeing polygamy, crossing the Sierras in the first wagon in a caravan coming into California, about standing before the Pacific (as Frost’s “Once By the Pacific”) might have sounded like in her “un-miked” voice. The lordly office of British Poet Laureate colonized the voice of Coolbrith, pioneer and passionate advocate, yet California remained her inspiration.

We’ve entered a new America in the last few months: We are redefining ourselves. If “poet laureate” sounds like a contradiction in terms here in California, the last frontier, then I accept that contradiction, just as I accept the extremely high standards that the outgoing poet laureate, Al Young, has set. But here’s what I most hope to do. I hope to speak in a voice that is in touch with California, about California — perhaps to children reading poetry for the first time, hospital patients, inmates of prisons or anyone fascinated or intimidated by its unlikely power.

To speak about the state of mind which is California and the words swirling in the wind — desert by the sea, one hundred tongues, snow-peaked, blowing fire, homeless under the freeway, homeboy jewel in the lotus, Inland Empire, pool-blue aftershock, silver screen, aerospace grasslands, grapevined aqueduct air base on the Pacific Rim . . . You see where this is going. Perhaps finally, and with great respect, to readdress the ordinary California poppy — waiting there, egalitarian in the golden marvel of its blooms.

Muske-Dukes is professor of English and creative writing at USC and the author of several books, including “Channeling Mark Twain,” “Sparrow” and “An Octave Above Thunder.”
You can find out more about Carol at: http://www.carolmuskedukes.com/

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7.)

Dear Friends of Hayden Carruth,

As you may imagine, the loss of Hayden Carruth has left his immediate family with some financial strains. Anyone wishing to help may send a check payable to HAYDEN CARRUTH MEMORIAL FUND c/o Paul V. Noyes, Esq. 131 Sherrill Rd, Sherrill, NY 13461. The fund will remain active until January 15, 2009; you may request anonymity or your name will be added (without the amount of your gift) to a list of contributors when Mr. Noyes gives Joe-Anne the proceeds (and any messages included with the donations) shortly after January 15. Please accept your canceled check as notification that your gift has been received.

The Hayden Carruth Memorial Fund Committee

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8.)

In Memoriam:

We’ve lost 2 wonderful poets this past week, one a member of the PSOV, Poetry Society of Vermont, and the other an internationally-known poet.

Here’s what information I have at the moment for the first of two:

Christopher Clarke White (“Doc White”)

CASTLETON – The memorial service for Christopher Clarke White, 71, who died Jan. 14, 2009, will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at the Ducharme Funeral Home in Castleton. The Rev. Robert Noble, pastor of Castleton Federated Church, will officiate.

A full obituary will be published in a future edition of the Rutland Herald.

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And , the 2nd:

W.D. Snodgrass

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass dies

W.D. Snodgrass, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who had a nearly 40- ear teaching career, died at his upstate New York home after a four- onth battle with inoperable lung cancer. He was 83.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —

W.D. Snodgrass, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who had a nearly 40- ear teaching career, died at his upstate New York home after a four- onth battle with inoperable lung cancer. He was 83.

His family said he died Tuesday at his home in Madison County, just east of Syracuse. Snodgrass won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1960 for his first book, “Heart’s Needle,” which grew from heartbreak at losing custody of his daughter in a bitter divorce.

Although widely credited as a founding member of the “confessional” school of poetry, Snodgrass himself dismissed the label.

Born William DeWitt Snodgrass in Wilkinsburg, Pa., on Jan. 5, 1926, he was known to friends throughout his life as “De,” pronounced “dee.” He briefly attended Geneva College in Pennsylvania before he was drafted into the Navy during World War II.

Although he aspired to a career in music before the war, Snodgrass enrolled afterward in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, hoping to become a playwright. Instead, he drifted into some poetry classes and studied with such greats as John Crowe Ransom, Karl Shapiro, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell and Robert Lowell.

After receiving two master’s degrees in writing, Snodgrass embarked in 1955 on a nearly 40-year teaching career, which included stints at Cornell University, the University of Rochester, Wayne State University, Old Dominion University and, from 1968 to 1977, Syracuse University. He retired from teaching in 1994.
Snodgrass was the author of more than 30 books of poetry and translations.

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10.)
FROM POETS.ORG:

W. D. Snodgrass

William De Witt Snodgrass was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on January 5, 1926. He attended Geneva College and then served in the United States Navy until 1946. He then attended the State University of Iowa, where he earned his M.F.A. in 1953. His early work was compared to the work of Robert Lowell and Randall Jarrell, both of which were his teachers.

His first collection of poetry, Heart’s Needle, was published in 1959 and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. Since then, he has published numerous books of poetry, including Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions, 2006); The Führer Bunker: The Complete Cycle (1995); Each in His Season (1993); Selected Poems, 1957-1987; The Führer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress (1977), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and produced by Wynn Handman for The American Place Theatre; and After Experience (1968).

He is often credited as being one of the founding members of the “confessional” movement, though he does not consider his poetry as fitting in that school. About his own work, Snodgrass has said, “I first became known for poems of a very personal nature, especially those about losing a daughter in a divorce. Many of those early poems were in formal metres and had an ‘open’ surface. All through my career, however, I have written both free verse and formal metres.”

He has also produced two books of literary criticism, To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry (2003) and In Radical Pursuit (1975), and six volumes of translation, including Selected Translations (BOA Editions, 1998), which won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.

His honors include an Ingram Merrill Foundation award and a special citation from the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lived in upstate New York and died on January 13, 2009.
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11.)

From Bob & Susan Arnold at Longhouse, a fine Vermont press that not only issues gorgeous, incredible letterpress work, but also has served as a nerve center for poets and political activism for southeastern Vermont and sometimes for all of New England, I found this beautiful section of poetry, which centers around friendships with Hayden Carruth. I think they’re worth reading:

http://www.longhousepoetry.com/carruth.html

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11.)

Did You Know? . . . that even I can miss posting a poetry event?

Yes, it happens once in awhile. That’s why I appreciate emails from poets who receive the VPN about possibly obscure poetry-related events around the state. I can’t find them all by myself, although I certainly try. The VPN is your resource, so contribute when you can – events, anything!

What I missed, only because it was posted late at Middlebury College, was a poetry reading at the college on Thursday evening, January 15th, in honor of Martin Luther King day, the 19th. The special event was headed by nationally-known poet, Sonia Sanchez, who was at my college, San Francisco State, in the years just before I got there.

Here’s Ms. Sanchez’ bio:

Sonia Sanchez was born Wilsonia Benita Driver on September 9, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Her mother died a year later, and Sanchez lived with her paternal grandmother and other relatives for several years. In 1943 she moved to Harlem with her sister to live with their father and his third wife. She earned a B.A. in political science from Hunter College in 1955. She also did postgraduate work at New York University and studied poetry with Louise Bogan. Sanchez formed a writers’ workshop in Greenwich Village, attended by such poets as Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), and Larry Neal. Along with Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, and Etheridge Knight, she formed the “Broadside Quartet” of young poets, introduced and promoted by Dudley Randall. She married and divorced Albert Sanchez, a Puerto Rican immigrant whose surname she has used when writing, and the poet Etheridge Knight, with whom she had three children. During the early 1960s she was an integrationist, supporting the philosophy of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

But after considering the ideas of Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, who believed blacks would never be truly accepted by whites in the United States, she focused more on her black heritage from a separatist point of view. Sanchez began teaching in the San Francisco area in 1965 and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor from 1968 to 1969. In 1971 she joined the Nation of Islam, but by 1976 she had left the Nation, largely because of its repression of women.
Sonia Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Homegirls and Handgrenades (White Pine Press, 2007), Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (1999); Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems (1998); Does your house have lions? (1995), which was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award; Wounded in the House of a Friend (1995); Under a Soprano Sky (1987); Homegirls & Handgrenades (1984), which won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; I’ve Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems (1978); A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women (1973); Love Poems (1973); Liberation Poem (1970); We a BaddDDD People (1970); and Homecoming (1969).
Her published plays are Black Cats Back and Uneasy Landings (1995), I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t (1982), Malcolm Man Don’t Live Here No Mo’ (1979), Uh Huh: But How Do It Free Us? (1974), Dirty Hearts ’72 (1973), The Bronx Is Next (1970),and Sister Son/ji (1969). Her books for children include A Sound Investment and Other Stories (1979), The Adventures of Fat Head, Small Head, and Square Head (1973), and It’s a New Day: Poems for Young Brothas and Sistuhs (1971). She has also edited two anthologies: We Be Word Sorcerers: Twenty-five Stories by Black Americans (1973) and Three Hundred Sixty Degrees of Blackness Comin”at You (1971).
Among the many honors she has received are the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
Sonia Sanchez has lectured at more than five hundred universities and colleges in the United States and had traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She lives in Philadelphia.

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12.)

“Ponderings”

Repressed whimsy, it seems, can build up and fester in a person, the way unexpressed rage or resentment does. The time comes when, to save your sanity, you just have to get it out of your system in one big, cleansing blast. The evidence is in “Romantic Poetry,” a marmalade-sticky musical that opened recently on Broadway, at the Manhattan Theater Club.

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

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‘Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of wind.’

Poetry Quote by Maxwell Bodenheim

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Poets Laureate of the U.S.A.

  • A Net-annotated list of all the poets who have served the Library of Congress as Consultant (the old title) or Poet Laureate Consultant (the new title). Biographies & general reference sites are linked to the poets’ names — for the recent Laureates these are our own poet profiles with book-buying links at the bottom. Many of the other linked biographies are pages from the Academy of American Poets’ Find a Poet archive, a growing & invaluable resource. If there is no general information site about the poet, we have searched the Net for sample poems or other writings or recordings & listed those below the poet’s name.

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15.)

Linebreak is an online journal with a bias for good poetry. Here is a poem from their web site this week:

Head First
BY KRISTINE ONG MUSLIM

Kristine Ong Muslim has stories and poems published or forthcoming in more than three hundred publications worldwide, including Adbusters, Bellevue Literary Review, and Narrative Magazine. She has received a nomination for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award, three nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and several Honorable Mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.


“We have seen that the members of the same class, independently of their habits of life, resemble each other in the general plan of their organisation.”

— Charles Darwin, “On the Origin of Species”

Start from scratch.
There goes the cult of
the sleepless late twenties,
all burned out matchsticks.
The orbs of their heads
are darker when seen
from above.
Their posture is the arc
of sunset. Beautifully bent.

http://linebreak.org/

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16.)

Here’s a poem from Copper Canyon Press, not in its “Reading Room” (http://www.coppercanyonpress.org/) as I usually reprint in the Newsletter, but from another source. It was such a find that I felt you should read it in this space usually reserved for a Copper Canyon poem.

Sascha Feinstein
Blues Knowledge

Rain fizzles to electric portraits
of dazzling glitter and soot
as whorls of sparkled static shade
a flock of pigeons that circle
the cupola where stained glass
from a fire in the pews expanded
and blasted to the pavement
rosettes and shields
long since swept to the gutters
to grind in the silt of the Hudson
stirring now from a Southern hurricane’s
humid tumult of newspapers and necklaces
silhouetted against cherry trees
far above this unimaginable city below
where the worn yellow lines
like unboarded bath houses
hold no one from leaning into death
as if our eyes could summon those lights
that always turn the same bend
before machinery blossoms
and children hold their ears
and the crowd shifts awkwardly
into this time of need
so desperate in its planetary pull
no one allows themselves to feel
beyond the urgent discomfort of steam
that slicks hair to the skull
until despair becomes the steel bolts
blurring perfect circles to ovals and sinking
into paint thicker than most lives
and browner than cave paintings
or dogs from Lenox Avenue
and everything tenants kill
to purify apartments or boulevards
which is why this man dragging
tin and plastic knows for sure only that
his token had a hole in its center the way I
know this train will take me
not to my wife and child
but to the blues knowledge of departure
that makes everyone hold their sweat
and turn strangely now to watch
a huge woman bespangled
in a full-length dress and cushioned beret
the color of cranberries in ginger ale
as she loops her microphone cord
and clicks the cassette into its groove
of Mississippi guitar
over the backbeat of Aretha’s gospel
singing Can’t find nobody like you
to another who could be her sister
but stands with tears so full and fluid
her cheeks reflect the scarlet sequins
and beside me the man’s black bags
bloom into silver stamens as he raises
both palms into fingers and fists
and fingers blinking amen
and honey you’ve got to believe me
when I tell you on this platform
of people all living
in this city of got-to-get-there-yesterday
half of us let our trains roll on by

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17.)

American Life in Poetry: Column 198
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

This column has had the privilege of publishing a number of poems by young people, but this is the first we’ve published by a young person who is also a political refugee. The poet, Zozan Hawez, is from Iraq, and goes to Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington. Seattle Arts & Lectures sponsors a Writers in the Schools program, and Zozan’s poem was encouraged by that initiative.

Self-Portrait

Born in a safe family
But a dangerous area, Iraq,
I heard guns at a young age, so young
They made a decision to raise us safe
So packed our things
And went far away.
Now, in the city of rain,
I try to forget my past,
But memories never fade.
This is my life,
It happened for a reason,
I happened for a reason.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-
Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by Seattle Arts & Lectures. Reprinted from “We Will Carry Ourselves As Long As We Gaze Into The Sun,” Seattle Arts & Lectures, 2007, by permission of Zozan Hawez and the publisher. Introduction copyright (c) 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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18.)

KEEP PAST VERMONT POETS ALIVE!

I’M SOLICITING YOUR HELP:

POETS OF VERMONT
PAST AND PRESENT
PROJECT

I’m looking for a copy of:

1) The Literature of Vermont: A Sampler, University Press of New England, Arthur W. Biddle and Paul A. Eschholz, Editors, 1973
2) Poets and Poetry of Vermont, by Abby Maria Hemenway, 1858
3) “Driftwood,” a poetry magazine begun in 1926 by Walter John Coates
If you have any books of poetry, chapbooks, or just poems written by Vermont poets, dating 1980 and earlier, famous or not, I’d like to know about them. I’m beginning a project that deals strictly with Vermont poets, from Vermont’s past, with summaries of the poets themselves, a portrait photo or drawing of the poet, along with a small sampling of poems. If you think you can help, you probably can! Please contact me by replying to this newsletter.

Ronald Lewis

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VERMONT POET LAUREATES

1) Robert Frost – 1961
2) Galway Kinnell
3) Louis Glück
4) Ellen Bryant Voigt
5) Grace Paley
6) Ruth Stone

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20.)

If you ever have a need to contact me, here’s how to go about doing so:
Ronald Lewis:
Phone: 802-247-5913
Cell: 802-779-5913
Home: 1211 Forest Dale Road, Brandon, VT 05733
Email: sshortpt@verizon.net

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YEAR-ROUND POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

MIDDLEBURY

1) The Otter Creek Poets offer a poetry workshop every Thursday afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00 in the basement meeting room of the Ilsley Public Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury. This workshop, the largest and oldest of its kind in the state, has been meeting weekly for 13 years. Poets of all ages and styles come for peer feedback, encouragement, and optional weekly assignments to get the poetry flowing. Bring a poem or two to share (plus 20 copies). The workshops are led by David Weinstock. There is considerable parking available behind the library, or further down the hill below that parking lot. For more information, call David at 388-6939 or Ron Lewis at 247-5913.
2) The Spring Street Poets. This group is by invite only and consists of six members, Jennifer Bates, Janet Fancher, Karin Gottshall, Ray Hudson, Mary Pratt and David Weinstock.

BELLOWS FALLS


1) Great River Arts Institute – See details elsewhere in this newsletter
2) Poetry Workshop at Village Square Booksellers with Jim Fowler (no relation to owner Pat). The goal of this course is to introduce more people to the art of writing poetry and will include a discussion of modern poetry in various forms and styles. Each week, the course will provide time to share and discuss participant’s poetry. Students should bring a poem and copies to the first class. The course will be limited to 5 to 8 students to allow adequate time to go through everyone’s poetry contributions and will meet in the cafe at Village Square Booksellers. James Fowler, of Charlestown, New Hampshire, has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a major in Nature Writing. He was the editor of Heartbeat of New England, a poetry anthology. Fowler has been widely published since 1998 in such journals as Connecticut Review, Quarterly of Light Verse, and Larcom Review. Fowler is a founding member of the River Voices Writer’s Circle, and a regular reader at Village Square Booksellers-River Voices Poetry Readings. The fee for this 6 week Workshop is $100, payable to Mr. Fowler at the first class. Pre-registration for the Poetry Workshop is suggested and may be made by calling Village Square Booksellers at 802-463-9404 or by email at vsbooks@sover.net or jfowler177@comcast.net.

GUILFORD

The Guilford Poets Guild, formed in 1998, meets twice a month to critique and support each other’s work. Their series of sponsored readings by well-known poets which began at the Dudley Farm, continues now at the Women and Family Life Center.

WAITSFIELD

The Mad River Poets consists of a handful of poets from the Route 100 corridor. More on this group in the future.

STOWE

There is another poetry workshop happening in Stowe, but unfortunately I know nothing much about this group. If you do, contact me!

NORWICH

This group meets on the first Sunday of every month at the Norwich Library, 6:30 p.m.

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OTHER POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

BURLINGTON

Scribes in the making put pen to paper as part of an open verse-
writing session at the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College Street. Three consecutive Thursdays, starting January 8, 2009, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Free. Contact information: 862-1094.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

Thinking Like a Poetry Editor: How to Be Your Own Best Critic
(“The Ossmann Method” Poetry Workshop – Crash Course)
Instructor: April Ossmann

The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Saturday, January 17th OR Saturday, February 14th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$45

Learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. Participants will receive written editorial suggestions for both poems from the instructor. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8. Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com

The Ossmann Method Poetry Workshop: Building Your Tool Kit
Instructor: April Ossmann
The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Sundays, 8 weeks, January 18th – March 8th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$200

Build or improve your poetic techniques tool kit and learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. This workshop will be both critical and generative, so I will assign reading and generative exercises meant to teach or improve writing skills. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8 (minimum enrollment for the course to proceed is 4). Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com

Note: If you know of any others, or have personal information about the workshop in Stowe and Guilford, please send me that information. I realize that there are several smaller groups or workshops around the state. However, because of their intimacy, they are not posted above, allowing them to offer “memberships” to close friends or acquaintances that they feel would be most appropriate.

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YEAR-ROUND POETRY WRITING CENTERS IN VERMONT

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

The Writer’s Center is for serious writers and nervous beginners. It’s for procrastinators who could benefit from regular deadlines – and for the prolific who could benefit from quality feedback. It’s for anyone with a manuscript hidden in a drawer, or a life story or poem waiting to be written. It’s for people who don’t know where to start or how to end. And for writers who are doing just fine on their own, but would like the company of other writers. The Writer’s Center is for anyone who is writing or wants to write. One of the Center’s consultants is April Ossman (www.aprilossmann.com). Founded by Joni B. Cole and Sarah Stewart Taylor, the Writer’s Center offers instruction and inspiration through a selection of workshops, discussions, and community. We would love to see you – and your writing – at The Writer’s Center! For more info, http://
www.thewriterscenterwrj.com/
.

UNDERHILL

Women Writing for (a) Change supports the authentic experience of women who honor themselves through creative writing. Our community supports reflection as we move into our questions and awaken to change. Participants enhance expressive skills, strengthen their voices, deepen themselves as women as writers for positive change in all spheres of life. Creative writing in all genres is our shared vehicle. Women Writing for (a) Change is for women who, 1) dream of writing for self-discovery, for personal or social healing, 2) hunger for creative process in their lives, 3) yearn to explore their feminine voice, 4) crave reflective, space, and 5) are in transition. For more information, go to their web site at www.womenwritingVT.com/ or contact Sarah Bartlett at either 899-3772 or sarah@womenwritingvt.com.

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24.)

POETRY EVENT CALENDAR

Below please find the most current list of poetry happenings in Vermont for the near future. Please be aware that these events can be found on Poetz.com, but there is usually additional information that is typed here that would be cumbersome to place on Poetz.com. Please note all events are Vermont-based unless they are of extreme importance or happen to lie just outside our borders. If you would like to save on paper and ink, please just highlight what you need, or perhaps only events for the coming month, and print that information.

Fri, Jan 16: Outer Space Café in the Flynndog Gallery, 208 Flynn Avenue, Burlington, 7:00 p.m. Poet’s Night. First of this year’s series.

Fri, Jan 16: Deadline for Studio Place Arts exhibit. See Jan. 23rd event below.

Tue, Jan 20: Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Charles Barasch. Celebrate Inauguration Week with UVM linguistics teacher and the Plainfield town moderator, Charles Barasch, who will present Dreams of the Presidents, a collection of dream poems – one for each American president. Humorous, and laced with events of historical interest, each poem gives insight into the presidents’ lives. This book offers a well-timed look at politicians, as well some much-needed laughs. For info, 229-1069.

Wed, Jan 21: Robert Hull Fleming Museum, UVM Campus, 61 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Art and Poetry: The Painted Word featuring poets Myronn Hardy and Matthew Miller. The Robert Hull Fleming Museum presents a poetry series hosted by Major Jackson, associate professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of English. This reading series highlights established and emergent New England poets whose work represents significant explorations into language, song, and art. Info, www.uvm.edu/
~fleming/
. Co-sponsored with the English Department and funded in part by the James and Mary Buckham Fund.

Thu, Jan 22: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too”: Winter with Robert Frost. Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s winter poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served; free. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Thu, Jan 22: Briggs Carriage Bookstore, 16 Park Street, Brandon, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Charles Barasch. Celebrate Inauguration Week with UVM linguistics teacher and the Plainfield town moderator, Charles Barasch, who will present Dreams of the Presidents, a collection of dream poems – one for each American president. Humorous, and laced with events of historical interest, each poem gives insight into the presidents’ lives. This book offers a well-timed look at politicians, as well some much-needed laughs. For info, Peter Marsh at 247-0050.

Fri, Jan 23: Studio Place Arts (SPA), 201 N. Main Street, Barre, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Opening Reception – Poetry Reading. Studio Place Arts (SPA, http://www.studioplacearts.com) is having an exhibit in its main gallery from January20 – February 28, 2009 entitled Picture That Poem. Visual artists will be showing work that responds to poetry and/or incorporates poetry directly in the artwork.

At the same time, I am curating an exhibit in the second floor Student and Community artspace that will display published books of poetry. I am planning to display the books in a way that will allow visitors to browse the books and spend some time with them (which means that the volume on display may get some wear). I am looking for poets to exhibit one to three different books of poetry during that time. I would need two copies of each book, one to display and one to keep for sale. When a book sells, we will contact the poet to replace the sold volume, or we can take orders and fulfill them at the conclusion of the exhibit (for those big sellers!). SPA takes a 35% commission on sold works.

The opening reception for these two exhibits will be on Friday, January 23 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. We would like to have a reading during that time when those who are interested (and able to attend) could read one or two of their works. SPA is a great place with lots of energy and well-attended shows and receptions.

*PLEASE HELP ME TO BROADCAST THIS CALL FOR PARTICIPATION* by forwarding to poets you think may be interested, or posting in appropriate places, and respond to me (or Studio Place Arts) before the end of December indicating:

* How many different books of your poetry you would like to display
in the January 20 – February 28 exhibit
* Whether you would be interested in reading at the opening
reception on January 23

We will need to have the books in hand by Friday, January 16, 2009. Mail or deliver to SPA at 201 North Main Street, Barre, VT 05641. Return postage SASE is appreciated by this non-profit arts center!

Janet Van Fleet
32 Thistle Hill Road, Cabot, VT 05647
802 563 2486

Check out my blog at http://janetvanfleet.blogspot.com/
Fri, Jan 23: Salisbury Library, Salisbury, 7:30 p.m. Spring Street Poets. The six members of the Spring Street Poets will be providing a rare reading. Hear the quality work of Jennifer Bates, Janet Fancher, Karin Gottshall, Ray Hudson, Mary Pratt and David Weinstock.

Sun, Jan 25: Red Hen Baking Company & Café, Route 2, Middlesex Village, 6:00 p.m. Poetry reading. Celebrate Robert Burns’ 250th birthday with our own Scottish Poet Len Irving! Come and read poetry – your own or your favorites – or listen to others. Info, Earline Marsh at 223-6777. (Red Hen readings are quarterly).

Mon, Jan 26: Grafton Library, Main Street, Grafton, 7:00 p.m. Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose. Second of three-part book discussion series led by Dr. Deborah Luskin from the Vermont Humanities Council. For info, Linda Montecalvo at 843-1444.

Mon, Jan 26: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eileen Myles to read. Of Sorry, Tree Eileen Myles most recent volume Chicago Review says: “Her politics are overt, her physicality raw, yet it is the subtle gentle noticing in her poems that overwhelms.” Eileen Myles is among the ranks of the officially restless, a poet who writes fiction (Chelsea Girls, Cool for You) an art writer and journalist whose essays and reviews have appeared in Art Forum, and Book Forum, The Believer, Parkett, The Nation and a libretticist whose opera “Hell” (w composer Michael Webster) was performed on both coasts in 2004 and again in 2006. Her first full collection of nonfiction writings, The Importance of Being Iceland, for which she received a Warhol/Creative Capital grant will come out in spring 09 from Semiotext(e)/MIT.

Wed, Jan 28: Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m – 8:00 p.m. Poetry reading. Celebrate Robert Burns’ 250th birthday with Scottish Poet Len Irving! Widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, this 18th century poet has left a legacy in song and poetry that endures to this day. Join a modern Scottish poet, Leonard Irving, for a salute to the author of Auld Lang Syne.

Thu, Feb 5: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Cleopatra Mathis to read. Cleopatra Mathis was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana. Her first five books of poems were published by Sheep Meadow Press. A sixth collection, White Sea, was published by Sarabande Books in 2005. Her work has appeared widely in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tri-Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women, and The Practice of Poetry. Various prizes for her work include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, in 1984 and 2003; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poems in 2001; the Peter Lavin Award for Younger Poets from the Academy of American Poets; two Pushcart Prizes (1980 and 2006); The Robert Frost Resident Poet Award; a 1981-82 Fellowship in Poetry at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts; The May Sarton Award; and Individual Artist Fellowships in Poetry from both the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey State Arts Council. She is the Frederick Sessions Beebe Professor of the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College, where she has directed the Creative Writing Program since 1982.

Fri, Feb 6: Firehouse Gallery, 135 Church Street, Burlington, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Poetry Reading and Drumming. As part of the Burlington Art Walk, poet and artist Terry Hauptman will provide a poetry reading accompanied by Jerry Geier’s drumming on his sculptural slit drums will entertain all. While you’re at the Firehouse Gallery, you can visit these two artists’ exhibits, titled Veiled Lineage. It features two Vermont artists investigating concepts of ancestry, heritage and tradition; using sculpture, painting, and installation. Jerry Geier’s assembly of sculptures, or totems, feature carved faces of wood and clay derived from indigenous and modern societies. The totems are hollowed and act as functional drums. Terry Hauptman’s Songline Scrolls feature colorful multi-cultural processions on wall-sized scrolls of paper. These scrolls are a metaphor for life, representing a continual unfolding revelation of change and celebration. In this 400th anniversary of European arrival in the Champlain Valley, this exhibit highlights our evolving notions of cultural and spiritual identity, and exposes the paradox of searching for meaning in the very same cultures that were supplanted by our own colonialist history.

Mon, Feb 9: Grafton Library, Main Street, Grafton, 7:00 p.m. Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose. Third of three-part book discussion series led by Dr. Deborah Luskin from the Vermont Humanities Council. For info, Linda Montecalvo at 843-1444.

Sun, Feb 15: Warming hut log cabin at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, 54 Elm Street, Woodstock, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Winter Readings in the National Park. Join a park ranger in sharing short stories and poetry about winter at the ski shelter warming cabin. Bring your own stories and poetry to share or just listen to others readings while enjoying the warmth of the cabin’s woodstove. Hot chocolate will be provided. Cost: $5.00 trail pass from the Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center. For info, Tim Maguire at 457-3368 X22 or Tim_maguire@nps.gov.

Wed, Feb 18: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too”: Winter with Robert Frost. Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s winter poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served; free. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Mon, Feb 23: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Waters to read. Michael Waters’ eight books of poetry include Darling Vulgarity (2006—finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems (2001), and Green Ash, Red Maple, Black Gum (1997) from BOA Editions, and Bountiful (1992), The Burden Lifters (1989), and Anniversary of the Air (1985) from Carnegie Mellon UP. His several edited volumes include Contemporary American Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois UP, 2003). In 2004 he chaired the poetry panel for the National Book Award. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Foundation, Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, and four Pushcart Prizes, he teaches at Monmouth University in New Jersey and in the Drew University MFA Program.

Wed, Feb 25: Peabody Library, Route 113, Post Mills. Reception and book signing by the authors of the literary magazine, Bloodroot. Bloodroot Literary Magazine is a nonprofit publication released each December. Their mission is to provide a journal of high production values and quality material by established and emerging authors. The 2009 issue of Bloodroot features cover art by Christy Hale and poems, short stories and creative nonfiction by 28 outstanding authors, many of them familiar names here in Vermont – Regina Brault, Carol Milkuhn and Nancy Means Wright. The book is scheduled to be out and about in mid-December 2008.

Sun, Mar 8: Warming hut log cabin at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, 54 Elm Street, Woodstock, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Winter Readings in the National Park. Join a park ranger in sharing short stories and poetry about winter at the ski shelter warming cabin. Bring your own stories and poetry to share or just listen to others readings while enjoying the warmth of the cabin’s woodstove. Hot chocolate will be provided. Cost: $5.00 trail pass from the Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center. For info, Tim Maguire at 457-3368 X22 or Tim_maguire@nps.gov.

Sun, Mar 9: Plymouth State University, Smith Recital Hall, Johnson, NH, 7:00 p.m. Poet C.D. Wright. 2008 – 2009 Eagle Pond Author’s Series. A compelling and idiosyncratic poet, C.D. Wright has twelve collections including Rising, Falling, Hovering (2008), a weaving of deeply personal and politically ferocious poems; Deepstep Come Shining and Cooling Time. Her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana was awarded the Dorothea Lange-Paul Tayor Prize. Her new and selected poems Steal Away was on the shortlist for the Griffin Trust Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the Israel J. Kapstein Professor at Brown University. Free. (603) 535-5000 to reserve spaces.
Thu, Apr 2: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Rosanna Warren to read. Rosanna Warren was born in Connecticut in 1953.

She was educated at Yale (BA 1976) and Johns Hopkins (MA 1980). She is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981), and three collections of poems: Each Leaf Shines Separate (Norton, 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993, Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets), and Departure (Norton, 2003). She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, among others. She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

Sun, Apr 5: Plymouth State University, Smith Recital Hall, Johnson, NH, 7:00 p.m. Poet Wesley McNair. 2008 – 2009 Eagle Pond Author’s Series. Wesley McNair is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations and a United States Artists Fellowship to “America’s finest living artists.” Other honors include the Robert Frost Prize; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry (for Fire); the Theodore Roethke prize from Poetry Northwest; the Pushcart Prize and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal. McNair is currently Professor Emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine at Farmington. Free. (603) 535-5000 to reserve spaces.

Mon, Apr 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eric Pankey to read. Eric Pankey is the author of six books of poetry: Reliquaries, Cenotaph, The Late Romances, Apocrypha, Heartwood and For the New Year. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a NEA Fellowship, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, and an Ingram Merrill Grant. His work has appeared in many journals, including Partisan Review, The New Yorker, Triquarterly, DoubleTake and The New England Review. He teaches at George Mason University and lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Thu, Apr 23: Middlebury College, Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. A talk by Adina Hoffman, on her new book, My Happiness Bears no Relation to Happiness: Poet Taha Muhammad Ali and the Palestinian Century, (Yale University Press), the first biography of a Palestinian poet, and the first portrayal of Palestinian literature and culture in the 20th Century. Sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Middle East Studies Program. For info, 443-5151, E-mail: schine@middlebury.edu.

Thu, May 14: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Harper to read. Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1938. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from what is now known as California State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Brown since 1970. Harper has published more than 10 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985).

A new poetry collection, Use Trouble, is forthcoming in fall 2008 from The University of Illinois Press. His other collections include Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History Is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979).

Harper was the first poet laureate of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Harper is also a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, and the recipient of numerous distinctions, including the Robert Hayden Poetry Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Melville-Cane Award, the Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award.

Mon, Jun 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eamon Grennan to read. Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated at UCD, where he studied English and Italian, and Harvard, where he received his PhD in English. His volumes of poetry include What Light There Is & Other Poems, (North Point Press, 1989), Wildly for Days (1983), What Light There Is (1987), As If It Matters (1991), So It Goes (1995), Selected and New Poems (2000) and Still Life with Waterfall (2001). His latest collection, The Quick of It, appeared in 2004 in Ireland, and in Spring 2005 in America. His books of poetry are published in the United States by Graywolf Press, and in Ireland by Gallery Press. Other publications include Leopardi: Selected Poems (Princeton 1997), and Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century, a collection of essays on modern Irish poetry.

His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in many magazines both in Ireland and the US. Grennan has given lectures and workshops in colleges and universities in the US, including courses for the graduate programs in Columbia and NYU. During 2002 he was the Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University. His grants and prizes in the United States include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Leopardi: Selected Poems received the 1997 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and Still Life with Waterfall was the recipient of the 2003 Lenore Marshall Award for Poetry from the American Academy of Poets. His poems have been awarded a number of Pushcart prizes. Grennan has taught since 1974 at Vassar College where he is the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English.

Thu, Jul 9: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Ryan to read. Michael Ryan has published three collections of poetry, including In Winter, Threats Instead of Trees, has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and God Hunger, as well as A Difficult Grace: On Poets, Poetry, and Writing, and the memoir Secret Life. His work has appeared in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, New Republic, and elsewhere. Ryan has been honored by the Lenore Marshall Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and a Guggenheim. Ryan is Professor of English and Creative Writing at UC, Irvine.

Mon, Jul 27: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Doreen Gilroy to read. Doreen Gilroy’s first book, The Little Field of Self (The University of Chicago Press, 2002), won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. Her second book, Human Love, was published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2005. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Slate, TriQuarterly and many other magazines.

Mon, Aug 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Cole Swensen to read. Cole Swensen is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver. She is the author of five collections of poems, including Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Poetry Prize; Noon (Sun and Moon Press, 1997), which won a New American Writing Award; and Numen (Burning Deck Press, 1995) which was nominated for the PEN West Award in Poetry. Her translations include Art Poetic’ by Olivier Cadiot (Sun & Moon Press, Green Integer Series, 1999) and Natural Gaits by Pierre Alferi (Sun & Moon, 1995). She splits her time among Denver, San Francisco and Paris.

Thu, Sep 3: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Marge Piercy to read. Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and most recently her 17th volume, The Crooked Inheiritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently SEX WARS in Perennial paperback now. Her memoir Sleeping With Cats is also in Harper Collins Perennial. Last spring, Schocken published Pesach for the Rest of Us. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD Louder We Can’t Hear You Yet contains her political and feminist poems. She has been an editor of Leapfrog Press for the last ten years and also poetry editor of Lilith.

Thu, Oct 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Pattiann Rogers to read. Pattiann Rogers has published ten books of poetry, a book-length essay, The Dream of the Marsh Wren, and A Covenant of Seasons, poems and monotypes, in collaboration with the artist Joellyn Duesberry. Her 11th book of poetry, Wayfare, will appear from Penguin in April, 2008. Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2005 Literary Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation, and five Pushcart Prizes. In the spring of 2000 she was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. Her papers are archived in the Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community and the Natural World at Texas Tech University. She has taught as a visiting professor at various universities, including the Universities of Texas, Arkansas, and Montana, Houston University, and Washingon University. She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University’s MFA in Writing Program. Rogers has two sons and three grandsons and lives with her husband in Colorado.

Tue, Oct 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Major Jackson to read. “Jackson knows the truth of black magic. It is a magic as simple as the belief in humanity that subverts racism, or the esoteric and mystical magic of making jazz, the music of hope and love.” —Aafa Weaver. Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, Hoops (Norton: 2006), a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry. and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Poems by Major Jackson have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, Post Road, Triquarterly, The New Yorker, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. In 2006-2007, he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Tue, Nov 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Sebastian Matthews to read. Sebastian Matthews is the author of the poetry collection We Generous (Red Hen Press) and a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps (W. W. Norton). He co-edited, with Stanley Plumly, Search Party: Collected Poem s of William Matthews. Matthews teaches at Warren Wilson College and serves on the faculty at Queens College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry and prose has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, New England, Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Seneca Review, The Sun, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Writer’s Almanac, among others. Matthews co-edits Rivendell, a place-based literary journal, and serves as poetry consultant for Ecotone:
Re-Imagining Place.

2010

Mon, Feb 22: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet David Shapiro to read. David Shapiro (born January 2, 1947) is an American poet, literary critic, and art historian and . Shapiro has written some twenty volumes of poetry, literary, and art criticism. He was first published at the age of thirteen, and his first book was published at the age of eighteen. Shapiro has taught at Columbia, Bard College, Cooper Union, Princeton University, and William Paterson University. He wrote the first monograph on John Ashbery, the first book on Jim Dine’s paintings, the first book on Piet Mondrian’s flower studies, and the first book on Jasper Johns’ drawings. He has translated Rafael Alberti’s poems on Pablo Picasso, and the writings of the Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Shapiro has won National Endowment for the HumanitiesNational Endowment for the Arts fellowships, been nominated for a National Book Award, and been the recipient of numerous grants for his work. Shapiro lives in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York City, with his wife and son.

Again, if you become aware of an event that isn’t posted above, please let me know. My apologies if I have left off anything of importance to any of you, but it can always be corrected in the next Vermont Poetry Newsletter.

That’s about it for now. Again, keep your eyes peeled for poetry events. I hope this email finds you all with good health and sharp pencils.

Your fellow Poet,
Ron Lewis

Vermont Poetry Newsletter January 8th 2009

[I actually posted this after the January 16th Vermont Poetry Newsletter.  For the sake of chronology, however, I reposted the Newsletter of the 16th so that this post would appear first. Here it is (minus some items that are out of date). From this point on, I will try to post these Newsletters as soon as I receive them and as long as I have Ron Lewis’ permission – UpinVermont.]

Vermont Poetry Newsletter
Your Poetry & Spoken Word Gateway in the Green Mountain State

Newsletter Editor’s Note

  • The Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network is made up of people of all backgrounds, ages and skills who appreciate the craft of poetry and want to promote it in the beautiful state of Vermont. The network consists of a free e-mail list, an eventual web site, workshops, open mics, poetry performances and other literary events. The network provides opportunities to meet local poets, talk about and enjoy poetry, and motivate and inspire yourself in whatever writing projects you are involved.
  1. Essay on John Ashbery
  2. The Sea Shell Game – Haiku
  3. Interview of Jane Reichhold on Basho
  4. Best Internet Site for Short Forms of Poetry
  5. Did You Know? POEMS Syndrom
  6. Poetry Quote (Robert Penn Warren)
  7. In Memoriam: Adrian Mitchell, British Poet
  8. Poetry Magazine 2-for-1 Offer
  9. Linebreak Poem
  10. Copper Canyon Press Poem – M.S. Merwin Broadside
  11. American Life in Poetry Poem
  12. Vermont Poets Past and Present Project
  13. Contact Info for Publisher of VPN: Ron Lewis
  14. Year-Round Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  15. Other Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  16. Year-Round Poetry Writing Centers in Vermont
  17. Poetry Event Calendar

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1.)

For you John Ashbery fans, here is a wonderfully personal essay on
the poet (and a look inside his grand home!)
:

Hudson 1993:
A Tour of John Ashbery’s Home
By Rosanne Wasserman
Illustrated by Ahndraya Parlato

Foreword, March 2008

Fifteen years ago, when John Ashbery and I walked at snail’s pace around his house to prepare this article, he was still in the process of fashioning his surroundings; he has not ceased to create and recreate them in the intervening decade and a half. Not surprisingly, then, the article describes only one stage in the evolution of his house, some rooms of which have, since then, been further embellished, or reimagined, or pulled apart and are still being put together.

Changes both major and minor have altered these rooms described below. In the Music Room, sparkle has been provided aplenty by the addition of an enormous antique strung-crystal basket-style chandelier. Some paintings, like the white rose by Alex Katz, are no longer on the walls where they were: they are traveling, on loan to various shows at museums or galleries, or they have been replaced by different pieces, as the poet’s taste has changed or sought refreshment. Notable, for example, is a large black-and-white seascape photograph by Lynn Davis, on the wall where the white rose hung. A collection of poetry books has migrated from bedroom to parlor; the toys on the coffee tables are not the same. Some paintings that were in upstairs closets then are on the walls now; the closet stores other canvases at present. (Some of the painters, too, have traveled on: Larry Rivers passed away in 2002; R. B. Kitaj in 2007.)

A significant omission in this article is any discussion of the cellar, which has the usual laundry and furnace rooms, an extra freezer, and another bathroom, as well as two busy offices, files, and archives. In 1993, still more archives were shelved in the unfinished, high-roofed main room of the attic, and since that time, Flow Chart Foundation archives have been stored in an additional space elsewhere in Hudson.

Also omitted below are some important dates: foremost is 1983, not the year in which John purchased the house (he bought it in December 1978), but the date that David Kermani gives as when the house began to become a home, with renovations underway. Five years later, John and David with great generosity offered temporary lodgings to my husband, Eugene Richie, and myself, while we were renovating our own house, an A. J. Downing-style cottage a mile away, a task that took the better parts of 1987–90.

Although an old home requires constant maintenance and repair, so that workmen still come and go, John was just developing his ideas for the house at that time. The process of creating the space was in full sail during the years we were there, and indeed continued right through and past the 1993 tour. However, although some significant acquisitions came much later—the Music Room chandelier being primary among these—nevertheless, by 1993, the interior was recognizably what it is today. (This chandelier and a number of other works and scenes discussed below appear in illustrations accompanying articles by Stephen Sartarelli, “Art of the Poet”1; Dinitia Smith, “Poem Alone”2; and Brice Brown, “Any Interpretation Will Do.”3) These years also saw the writing and publication of A Wave, April Galleons, and Flow Chart, books that I think of as moved by the same muses with whom and for whom John was designing the spaces of his home. His later books, by contrast, seem more to reflect on these spaces, live within them, and rest inside the finished work.

Living at John’s was a splendid treat and an inspiration in those years before our son, Joseph, was born and I began to teach full time. I wrote many poems about or including elements of the house, and was not alone in doing that—many poets and artists who were guests in Hudson found themselves equally moved to write, record, and respond to his gorgeous and idiosyncratic spaces. One of the most beautiful works inspired by the house has been the composer Robin Holloway’s Violin Concerto, Opus 70. When someone once complimented John on this effect, he grinned and troped Falstaff—“I am not only poetic in myself, but the cause that poetry is in other men!” As Ann Lauterbach has written, “His greatness has allowed many poets—from David Lehman to, say, Charles Bernstein, to name two not quite at random—to explore the territory he opened.”4 She’s discussing literary territory, but the metaphor reverts neatly to the actual interiors of his home. For my own part, after many years working as an editor of art and exhibition catalogues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I found John’s house a perfect antidote for what I like least about museums: that they are not lived-in spaces. John’s house, filled with objets d’art and arranged into subtle, funny, and magnificent scenarios, is also always a place where people live and visit, sleep and dine, watch TV, wash up dishes, sit in chairs. Long may they do so.

When the poet John Ashbery saw the opportunity to purchase a grand old Victorian townhouse upstate in the Hudson Valley, he entered upon what was, for him and his temperament, a very special pursuit. For over a decade, he then worked at restoring, redecorating, and enriching this already beautifully constructed and well-preserved building, creating for himself a space as marvelous as the best of his poetry. This house and its furnishings—like Frederic Church’s Olana just a few miles away above the Hudson River—are a masterwork of visual imagination, revealing not just the personality but the muse of its artist-owner. In a review of Hotel Lautréamont, Michael Wood suggests that Ashbery’s poetry often parodies “the generic voice of a moment or manner in earlier poetry.” Wood writes:

The tone of these allusions is far from that of a solemn adherent to a great tradition, a poet daunted by the lateness that so interests Harold Bloom; more like that of a brilliant and naughty child in an attic full of toys. Or an inquisitive adult in a bazaar crowded with beautiful, battered, and improbable objects.5 Wood’s similes are in fact a fair literal description of the spirit of Ashbery’s interiors.

The Classical Revival town house was built in 1894, and is a model example of late Victorian architecture and decor, with intricate woodworking, stained glass, and built-in shelves and cupboards. Ashbery has filled its fifteen rooms with paintings and prints by artists he knows and loves; with collectible and rare objects of pottery, glass, metal, porcelain; with books reflecting his influences and enthusiasms; and with, to lift a list from Rimbaud, “door panels, stage sets, back-drops for acrobats, signs, popular engravings, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books with bad spelling, novels of our grandmothers, fairy tales, little books from childhood, old operas, ridiculous refrains, naïve rhythms,”6 and B-movie video cassettes. Moreover, to quote Ashbery himself, “There are a lot of other things of the same quality / as those I’ve mentioned.”7

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Hudson: Fairy tales, little books from childhood, old operas, ridiculous refrains, naïve rhythms. Music room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

More than fifty paintings or works on paper are framed on the walls, along with posters, lithographs, pages cut from old magazines, photographs, and other graphics. Each room has a variety of objects and themes so dense and yet so magically right that their individual atmospheres seem almost human; they have not so much been decorated by, as possessed by the spirit of the master of the house. Ashbery once mentioned to me that his arrangements of objects follow various dramas in his imagination: in part a re-creation of his grandparents’ home in Rochester, New York, where he spent much of his childhood; and in part an idea of what might exist in each room, in some dreamed-up family, as if he were designing a stage set, a giant dollhouse, or a gargantuan Cornell box. For more about his grandparents’ home, the poet’s own words are best consulted, in an article from Architectural Digest, which also features many images of the house circa 1994.8

In 1993, the poet and I walked together through the work-in-progress of his habitat; I invite you now to tour this wonderful house with John Ashbery and me, room by room, to see the paintings and prints on the walls, as well as a few of the other remarkable objects gathered there. Ashbery kindly showed me all around the house, identifying and commenting on the things we saw; I will relay to you what he told me. Since I am not an art historian, I cannot offer an exact descriptive catalogue; I will instead describe both what caught my eye and what Ashbery thought worth mentioning.

There are two main floors to visit, with a brief look up to the attic. On the first floor is a large front hall, with a music room to the left, a library to the right. Off the back of the hall is a dining room, from which a left door leads to the butler’s pantry, then into the kitchen. A grand front staircase from the hall leads upstairs, as does a narrower back stair from the kitchen. A central hall upstairs opens onto six main areas: the upstairs sitting room, a second upstairs library, the master bedroom and its screened sleeping porch overlooking the garden, a guest bedroom, and the bathroom. Between the guest bedroom and the upstairs sitting room is a small but sunny study. The sixth door leads to the attic, where an attic room is also furnished for guests.

The front hall is preceded by a small foyer just past the outside doors with their great curling hinges. The alcove is floored with unglazed gray and white ceramic tiles. Between foyer and front hall is a brilliant wall of uncolored, leaded glasswork and oak wainscotings; the inner doors, too, are set with leaded clear-glass windows, with a spoked-oval spiderweb design of the sort so popular in Gothic cinema. A small Persian star-shaped ceiling lamp set with colored glass bosses hangs above. On the left are two large ceramic umbrella-stands with oriental dragon motifs; on the right, a small gilded rush-bottom chair, very squarely built but delicate-looking. It seems to say, “If you must sit down on me to take off your boots, go ahead; but don’t sit down too hard.”

After the grisailles of the foyer, the dark, richly colored front hall comes as a sumptuous surprise. The hall is magnificent with carved wood details: oak panel wainscoting, inlaid woods on the floors, carvings on the ceiling, great sliding doors off to the left and right, an ornate gilded chandelier, a grand staircase curving into the room at right, a fireplace and big mirror at the back, which reflects the foyer’s glasswork as you leave it and progress into the house. The mantel before it holds a brass clock and two Royal Teplitz porcelain candelabra figurines, shepherd and shepherdess, which Ashbery inherited from his grandparents. All of these details are usually lit only by colored sun falling from the monumental stained-glass window at the top of the first landing of the staircase, so the room is dark and glittery like an Arabian treasure cave. The Persian carpets on the floor show the concern of Ashbery’s friend David Kermani; it is also Kermani who creates and tends to the mammoth Christmas trees, covered with antique glass ornaments from his collection, which illuminate and enchant the back of this hall for a good part of the year.

The hall’s art is primarily oriental, larger and smaller prints and paintings not brightly lit, but of clear figurative designs that make their statements from the comparative dimness of the hall, or blend quietly into the shadows until studied, when they suddenly surprise the watcher: that wall’s full of life! There are a number of Chinese landscape scrolls: one of monkeys, three of birds: these are machine-made textiles. Smaller Japanese prints are grouped together on the left wall: first, a Hokusai design of moon and cherry blossoms in black and white; with it, a very blue blue jay among some very orange leaves. At the back of the hall, a three-part print tells some tale of a tempest, a demon on a rope, and a dancer with a fan under a parasol. This print oddly foreshadows the large Kitaj in the music room next door.

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Hudson: The room gives the impression of a small manmade lake. Music room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

The music room at the left of the foyer is full of a steady but not sparkling light, its fireplace and mantle painted white, with an oval mirror built in above. The room gives the impression of a small manmade lake, not because there is anything blue or skylike in it, but because of its stillness, order, and light. The mantle features a replica of a Jean-Antoine Houdon terracotta bust of a child; on a side table is an original, a 1775 terracotta of a young lady by Phillipe-Laurent Roland. The eighteenth-century French motif is repeated with marble-topped tables, inset with porcelain plaques; gilded chairs and sofa; two side mirrors; and the two front windows with a gilded mirror in between. American details include a small brass reading lamp shaded by a Steuben glass creation called “Aurene”; a hand-painted glass landscape shade enhances another side-table lamp. But the Surrealists have been here, as well, with a little playful trompe l’oeil: two ashtrays seem to hold a pipe or a nutcracker and nuts: all are of porcelain. A potted ficus tree and a grand piano draped with a red paisley shawl complete the scene.

Six large works hang on these walls. The eye is seized first by a very big genre scene, full of colorful figures, action, and violence: Susan Dakin’s painting of an assassination attempt on a general, an episode from the 1929 Mexican novel of political intrigue and corruption, La Sombra del Caudillo by Martin Luis Guzman. The wounded leader lies on the floor of a posh restaurant, behind an overturned table, his napkin still in his collar, bloodstains on his uniform, a gun in its holster at his hip; he is surrounded by the dark, concerned faces of his staff and attendants, some of whom have apprehended the gunman as he tried to flee out the restaurant’s windowed street doors in the background. Food, flowers, and blue seltzer bottles spill around in the foreground. The New World revolutionary mood of the entire piece suggests that a window from the future has opened into this eighteenth-century room; or perhaps it’s the door of a time machine from which we visitors have just tumbled.

After this canvas, the others seem quieter, deeper, even the Willem de Kooning, a calligraphic black-and-white silkscreen dated 1970. The print is numbered 27/28. Its abstract but violent squiggles recall Japanese sumi, especially after the orientalism of the hall. This work is one of the series Ashbery reviewed during his decade-long Paris sojourn, while writing for the Herald Tribune.9 Even quieter, on the opposite wall, is a huge white rose on a burgundy background, its petals highlighted with gray and yellow. I always think of Georgia O’Keefe at first sight of this painting, but it’s an early Alex Katz, 1966, not his familiar human figures, but with his recognizable, simply stated two-dimensionality.

With these works hangs a portrait, in subdued but clear colors, of the poet as a young man: “John Ashbery” by Fairfield Porter, from the painter’s Southampton home in 1957. The poet wears a blue short-sleeve shirt and tan slacks with a brown belt; he turns the left profile as he sits in a studio chair. (The image was reproduced in 2004 on the cover of Ashbery’s Selected Prose.) Another portrait hangs by the piano: “Eduard,” the head of a man from a series painted in 1943 by Jean Hélion. This abstract bust wears a black-banded fedora; his red tie is the only bright color in a gray palette; the face is reminiscent of a Léger. Painted during his American period, it shows the qualities Ashbery lists in “Jean Hélion Paints a Picture”: “clear, monumental, rounded forms and quiet metallic tones, which give an impression of tranquility and unclamorous strength.” 10

Above the piano is the print by R. B. Kitaj, an Ohio-born painter living in England, whom Ashbery has praised for his “literary qualities.”11 Entitled “French Subjects,” this collagelike work contains three line-drawn portrait heads, one labeled “A. Legros,” the others unnamed. The name “Gerard Phillipe” banners across one section of the piece; ten stylized soup bowls in two rows stand upside-down at top left; and at lower right, we are given a mysterious photograph-derived image of two people in coats, walking toward a building with an inverted horseshoe and the word “cottage” on its side. The work is inscribed by hand: “Kitaj (proof) For John Ashbery, love.”

Finally, with the bibelots and curios on the piano—some art pottery, some music books, a marble sculpture of something between a chess bishop and a lighthouse—is a stand supporting a canvas painted by the British artist and poet Trevor Winkfield. The small, strange, jewel-like images, in flat, bright colors, include a pair of dice, a fly, two jingle bells, and the lower halves of a few flowerpots. A gift from the young artist during Ashbery’s long hospitalization in the 1980s, its back is inscribed: “Fragment,” “this, my first canvas in seventeen years, for John Ashbery abed, May 1982.” Needless to say, Winkfield is another exceptionally literary painter, in fact a Roussellian, and a dear friend of Ashbery’s.

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Hudson: The library is peculiarly Germanic, in a Black Forest fairytale way. Downstairs library. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

The library at the left of the hall seems to be the forest counterpart of the lakelike music room. Where the music room is decidedly French, both antique and modern, the library is peculiarly Germanic, in a Black Forest fairytale way, Victorian and gnomic, not to say gnomelike. This impression is chiefly conveyed by the oak paneling and the large pieces of furniture: there are no fewer than five big upholstered armchairs arranged in a circle here, with carved arms and legs, leafy fabrics or figurative needlework, antimacassars and pillows. Small coffee tables between them support Tiffany lamps. The three floor lamps are carved of large wooden posts, adding to the woodland feeling, further heightened by a leafy potted palm. This room’s paneled ceiling and high wainscoting can be seen in the book American Victorian.12 The books that give the room its name—
specially bound books and journals, including an entire set of Art News—are in the background, behind built-in glass-doored shelves.

This room, too, has a special place for the American: on the mantle, Ashbery displays a select collection of American art pottery, which completes the Midsummer’s Night’s Dream spirit of the atmosphere. Small pots and dishes, mugs and vases, jars and candlesticks, in green and brown earthtones, glowing blues and turquoise, iron pinks and ochres, are reflected in the mantelpiece mirror. An old crackle-glazed blue-on-white Dedham rabbit plate rests in a stand as a centerpiece within a square niche above the dark tile of the fireplace, below the mantle. One shelf holds a Roycroft metalwork vase. These pieces are from the studios of small artisans or industries from all over the country, both older and newer kilns—Weller, Van Briggle, George Ohr, Marblehead, Gruby, Hampshire, Jugtown, Cowan, Frankoma, Fuller, Roseville, and Prang. While many can be identified by the potters’ marks, Ashbery has collected not only the pottery but also books about it for many years, and he is able to recognize the origins and value of little dishes and trays that most people would overlook in a dark thrift shop. Like Puck and his band in an Arthur Rackham illustration, the grotesque and graceful forms of the earthenware gathered on the mantle seem to dance in trees above the heads of the poet’s afternoon guests.

Another whimsical Victorian is represented here: above the high oak panel hangs a colored print by Edward Lear, one of his sketchbook Italian scenes, labeled Ponta Pingiana. There are, in addition, three Piranesi prints: the Veduta di Franco del Campidoglio, Rome, in black and white; a 1777 scene of the Porto Orientale, showing the harbor surrounded by ornate statuary; and a vista down a curving street, the Veduta della Gran Curia Innocenziana, filled with three-story urban façades. Finally, there is another Englishman’s view of Italy, a large colored print of Venice by J. Alphege Brewer. The combined effect of the prints is light, airy, and at the same time rather literary, appropriately. Are they far-off scenes glimpsed through the forest trees, or endpoints of maps of where we might be off to next? So detailed but so unobtrusive, they invite and avoid deeper study.

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Hudson: Far-off scenes glimpsed through the forest trees. Downstairs library. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

The dining room is papered with real Lincrusta Walton, the wallpaper immortalized by Oscar Wilde as the one thing he most missed while in Reading Gaol. The room represents the sumptuous Victorian style, with built-in curved-glass cupboards and a stained-glass window. The table and chairs, as described in American Victorian, were “built especially for the room, with an edge molding of the same egg-and-dart design as the handsomely paneled woodwork and cabinets,” and other “high-style Colonial Revival flourishes.”13 The poet searched long to match a missing shade for the chandelier, which now has all four golden Steuben Aurene glass shades, like the one in the music room. The warm golden light is deepened by the oak woodwork and burnished by the stained glass above the mirror at the back of the room, with its harvest grapevine motif. In one corner, a large embossed brass plate with a tavern scene gilds the lily. This item came from a Rochester, New York, antique store at the top of the block where Ashbery lived as a child with his grandparents during the school year.

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Hudson: The warm golden light is deepened by the oak woodwork and burnished by the stained glass. Dining room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

The ceramics on the shelves and enclosed in the cabinets of the dining room include Czech pottery, blue willow, a large collection of French matchholders that the poet gathered during his years in Paris, plates with scenes from Roman history and captions in French, and a Little Orphan Annie mug with the balloon, “Didja ever taste anything so good as Ovaltine? And it’s Good for yuh, too—.” There is a blue-transfer plate featuring American poets: Bryant, Holmes, Lowell, Whittier, Poe, and Emerson, with Longfellow in the center. On the back stands a pair of pouter pigeons by Goldschneider; on a side table are pieces of glassware: a Dorflinger spiral-stem candy dish, a Daum potpourri bowl, and a mottled yellow Loetz dish.

Over the mantle, which is full of Teplitz amphorae and German art glass vases, a portrait shows a rather beefy sea captain, no relation to the poet, painted perhaps by Samuel F. B. Morse. He’s there because he’s supposed to be there, one of the elements in Ashbery’s exquisite Victorian parody, if it is a parody. There is also the requisite still life of sliced fruits and open pomegranates, with an indecipherable signature. A print of Guido Reni’s Aurora hangs above the left cabinet, and there is a convex mirror at head-height as you turn left into the butler’s pantry. That mirror, of course, is tantamount to Ashbery’s signature on the room, which is one of his favorites in the house.

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Hudson: A rather beefy sea captain is there because he’s supposed to be there. Dining room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

A doorway at the back of the left wall leads to the butler’s pantry, a narrow room or a very wide hall between the dining room and kitchen. There are counters on either side of the passage, a window onto the backyard at the right, and cupboards at the left that reach straight up to the high ceiling. On these shelves are more ceramics and glassware; on the walls, a wonderful William Morris print paper in brown and rust tones, his “Tobacco Leaf” design. The Fiestaware is stored here, as well as a number of Czech ceramics and a collection of fake food: clay vegetables and breads; wooden, wax, and plastic fruit. There is an old black plastic handset telephone—with a real dial—on a phone shelf just before the kitchen door.

Under the window, a marble counter with a copper sink is covered with bottles: this side is the bar. And there are appropriate paintings: a still life of Bombay gin bottles by Archie Rand, and a small piece by J. Shannon, a 1979 portrait of Walter Hopps (1932–2005; a curator of twentieth-century art at the Menil Collection museum). Hopps wears rolled-up shirtsleeves and a bright tie, and stands with a drink in one hand, the other hand in his pants pocket. A cartoon from 1924 is also framed, showing two cute urchins and a pup with a bow, entitled “L’heure du cocktail.” A tin advertising sign reads “Drink sunspot / bottled sunshine.” And there is a coaster from Harry’s New York Bar, Munich: two dancing grasshoppers in top hats.

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Hudson: “Drink sunspot / bottled sunshine.” Butler’s pantry and kitchen. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

In the kitchen, the warm light from side and back windows and the back porch door is complemented by the yellow and white paint of walls and ceiling. The room is full of useful things and of less useful but more interesting collections, including at least nine tin fish molds on the walls and several yellowware bowls of all sizes on a stand. There are two walk-in pantries, a smaller one with china dishes and glassware, and a huge one for cookware with an entire wall of shelves full of cookbooks. The house’s original woodstove stands at the left side of the kitchen table; painted a shiny black, it now supports the microwave, and its belly is full of boxes of tea as well as a blue glass jar holding peppermint grown and dried by the poet himself. On the refrigerator, a magnet shaped like a pack of Dentyne chewing gum holds up a coloring-book picture of Jim Henson’s Muppet Miss Piggy, reading a book to her dolly; it has been colored by Sarah Megan Williams, a six-year-old friend. Old advertising art dominates the walls: a poster for “Genuine Butter-Nut Bread” features white slices floating in an arc through the air down to a silver platter. And a placard for “Uncle Wabash Cupcakes” may be a subliminal early booster for integration: two white-frosted, five chocolate-iced cupcakes together on a plate, with old Uncle Wabash, a grizzled African-American, playing banjo in the lower left corner. Over the sink, a large metal sign, unframed, in yellow, red, and black, reads “Clabber Girl, the double-acting baking powder.”

There is a back staircase from the kitchen to the second floor, but for the proper way to go upstairs, we retrace our steps through the dining room so as to proceed up the formal front stairs to the upstairs hall. This staircase is stunning, not only for its showcase stained-glass window, but also because of the twenty Japanese prints purchased by Ashbery in the fifties in Paris. Their style is mostly after Hiroshige, and they depict bridges in rain, seashore, snow on sea and hills, street scenes, green mountain paths, a house on a sea cliff; there are two of Europeans, and there are “Yokohama prints” with geisha, as well as a view of Mount Fuji. There is also a typical ukiyo-e triptych of four figures. Glimmering lushly from the shadows at either side of the window, on two small built-in corner shelves, are two vases of what is known as Goofus glass: these shimmery painted objects, the poet says, are “really basically junk, although now of course there are books on them.” The window, which dominates and illuminates both downstairs and upstairs halls, has a landscape motif, with a design of mallows in the foreground and the purple Catskills in the background, all encircled by blue ribbons and wreaths.

The upstairs hall has a large travel poster of the town of Carpentras, a detail from a nineteenth-century painting of this walled city of North Provence in the south of France, a Jewish center in the Middle Ages. Ashbery visited there long ago, and again with Francis Wishart, son of the painter Anne Dunn; they saw the old synagogue and subterranean mikvah baths. Views of two German towns, Andernach and Neuwied, by the painter Schutz, hang here as well. A very small landscape view of Chillon, with a butterfly ship below the citadel, came from Ashbery’s grandparents’ home. Of its provenance, he says only, “I don’t know who did it or where it came from.” There is an old mirror topped with yet another reproduction of Reni’s Aurora, hanging above the round table with the phone—again, a nice heavy old-fashioned black 1950s dialer. On the table is also a dome-shaded Tiffany lamp, featuring a geometric pattern of circles and lines in monochromatic tones of pale gold.

This is not to say that the back stairs have been neglected: on the contrary, there’s not an inch of wasted space here. An amazingly eclectic gathering of prints and images carpet the cottage-style green-flowered wallpaper. At the foot of the stairs is a large frame holding the separate sheets of a “Tom Thumb’s Alphabet” by Edward Dalziel, from an 1867 publication entitled The Child’s Coloured Gift Book (the entire book can be viewed online at The Open Library). Each letter has a figure or two in caricature, and a rhyme, as below:

A was an archer,
who shot at a frog.
B was a Butcher,
who had a great dog.
C was a captain,
all covered with lace.
D was a drummer,
who played with a grace.
E was an Esquire,
with pride on his brow.
F was a Farmer,
who followed the plow.
G was a Gamester,
who had but ill-luck.
H was a Hunter,
who hunted a buck.
I was an Italian,
who had a white mouse,
whom John the footman
drove from the house.
K was a King,
so mighty and grand.
L was a Lady,
who had a white hand.
M was a miser,
who hoarded up gold.
N was a Nobleman,
gallant and bold.
O was an Organ-boy,
who played for his bread.
P a Policeman,
of bad boys the dread.
Q was a Quaker,
who would not bow down.
R was a Robber,
who prowled about town.
S was a sailor,
who spent all he got.
T was a Tinker,
who mended a pot.
V was a Veteran,
who never knew fear.
[U is missing forever from here.]
W was a waiter,
with dinners in store.
X was expensive,
and so became poor.
Y was a Youth,
who did not like school.
Z was a Zany,
who looked a great fool.

As we climb the stairs, when we can finally tear away from that extravagant and scary children’s alphabet, we find a print of Edward Burne-Jones’s Galahad and his steed; a lonesome pine on a trail in a 1920s colored photo of Yosemite; a photo of Nita Naldi wearing pearls and a high, pointed headdress, not the Theda Bara clone she appears to be but, says Ashbery, “someone in her own right”; a print of Hans Holbein’s Erasmus; several etchings, including two landscapes, one of a cloister with oxen on the road, signed by H. Toussaint; a geyser from Watkins Glen, which Ashbery calls a “childhood haunt”; a color poster of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe Puss in Boots; and as a grande finale over the stairs, a large color movie poster of Rin-Tin-
Tin, Jr., a German shepherd posing vigilantly on a mountain ledge at sunset.

There are also a couple of pieces by Maxfield Parrish, “Interlude” and “Daybreak,” both from 1922; this Parrish collection continues in the bathroom, where three more enhance the paneling: “Circe,” 1907; “The Rubaiyat,” 1916 (originally art for a Crane’s Chocolates box); and a Collier magazine cover of 1908, a landscape with a figure, a gift to Ashbery from the poet Bill Berkson.

And there’s more on the stairs: “Liszt’s Matinee,” which Ashbery says is the famous print of Liszt and his circle by Joseph Kriehuber; “The Very Last Polka” by Francois Bernard, an 1800s sheet-music cover with a city evening scene and horse-drawn carriage; two tinted photos, “The Garden Gate” and “The Swimming Pool,” maybe by Wallace Nutting, a northeastern photographer popular for garden scenes and ladies in nineteenth-century dresses. There are ruins of the Roman Forum; Zurich’s bridges; the Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, again from his grandparents’ home; a “Boy in Orchard,” which seems to be a three-dimensional embossed print of a child in a hat; one of those comic prints with the legend “Ne buvez jamais d’eau”; a Raphael Madonna and Babe; and the Uneeda Biscuit boy in his yellow slicker, carrying a box with the Nabisco logo beneath his arm.

We are rewarded at the top of either staircase by an invitation to the upstairs sitting room, actually the very important location of the television, VCR, coffee table, and six-o’clock news. Today there is an electronic remote-control whoopee cushion on the round Formica-
topped table in front of the main Potato Couch, as well as a wind-up metal duck on a motorcycle with a whirligig on its head, a gift from the poet Ed Barrett (this same duck can be seen in a mail-order catalogue called Russian Dressing); a porcelain gnome with a pipe, inscribed “Dingle”; and a plastic windup walking Christmas tree about two inches high. The table also holds the usual collection of magazines (Gourmet, Old-House Journal), Michelin guides, the latest Book Barn finds, poetry journals, biographies of musicians, and movie guides, especially The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film by Michael Weldon.

On the mantle opposite the couch are more serious, or at least older, porcelains: Staffordshire figurines of dogs and lovers, a miniature bust of Byron. The William Morris wallpaper here is again “Tobacco Leaf,” in a bittersweet color. A bibelot shelf in the corner holds a good-sized collection of miniature shoes, fashioned in glass, porcelain, metal, and other media. There is a Nordic Track indoor ski machine. There is a miniature table that seems to be made of buttons. The bookcase is full of cassettes of cartoons, old B films, lots of “Mad Movies” from San Francisco, and old SCTV reruns, as well as books about Hollywood, music, and cinema.

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Hudson: Detail of a Rodrigo Moynihan painting to which Ashbery is particularly attached. Upstairs sitting room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

Despite the wealth of pop culture here, the nine paintings in the room elevate the atmosphere even with the television on. Many are pieces to which Ashbery is particularly attached: a Jane Freilicher still life with a copy of ARTNews; Anne Dunn’s “Orchard” of 1989; an Elaine de Kooning garden, Casale Sonnino, watercolor on paper, inscribed “Happy birthday 9/20/81”; and a Rodrigo Moynihan painting of light bulbs. Over the mantlepiece is a large print, captioned “Grand Theatre Chalet.–Fond.” It shows a mountain house with a brook on the right: Ashbery identifies it as an image d’Epinale, the town in eastern France famed for its colored chromo illustration industry. There are three Hélions: a sketchbook leaf showing a Paris street scene of people walking between parked cars; a watercolor study for a large oil painting of three figures, 1937; and one piece inscribed to Ashbery, showing the studio where the painter’s wife lived, the flat space of the roof, chimneys in the background, a bridge leading over to his studio. Above the couch is one of Jim Bishop’s huge colorfield paintings, whitish blue, blue, red, and green.

In the upstairs library across the large central hall, white bookshelves rise from floor to ceiling along three of the walls, interrupted only by windows and a fireplace. Once a bedroom, this study is now the main repository of reading material in the house, and the working office for Ashbery, holding both the computer and the stereo equipment. The titles on the shelves are mostly fiction, philosophy, mysticism, and biographies, as well as records, tapes, compact discs, and books about music.

The Morris wallpaper here is the Iris pattern, a deep turquoise floral, not much of which is visible behind the bookshelves. It harmonizes with the faux-malachite marbleized fireplace and with the Larry Rivers double portrait of Ashbery and Kermani, “David and John,” 1977. The painting incorporates as background several lines from the poem “No Way of Knowing” from Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, beginning with “And then? Colors and names of colors.” There are old family photos here—actual family this time—on the mantle and above the computer desk: one shows Grandfather Ashbery and the soccer team he coached at a Pennsylvania school where he taught in the 1880s. The closet of this room holds Jane Freilicher’s unfinished portrait of Ashbery, painted about 1965, and another piece of French antique ephemera, the backdrop for a puppet theater, a set of scenes including railroad, towns, and a cityscape. On the walls hang Anne Dunn’s red flower/phallus image, 1962; a poster of Gentileschi’s “A Sibyl,” circa 1620, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; a small canvas by Hélion of Belle Isle en Mer, showing a port scene at Amici, with two white brushstrokes like a heart or dove in the sky, tethered boats, and boxy houses; and a modern New York cityscape by Darragh Park, entitled “Freeze,” set near the poet’s apartment on 22nd Street in Chelsea.

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Hudson: And then Colors and names of colors. Upstairs library.Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

There is another small office upstairs, in a bright windowed alcove between the sitting room and the guest bedroom. The desk in this office faces three small stained-glass panels set into a large bay full of potted plants. Another small bookshelf holds odds and ends, children’s books, gardening titles. There are four more pieces here by Winkfield: one mysterious puzzle featuring a 1920s-garbed lady, a gagged but pointing boy, and a leopard in a cage; two from his series “Marine Architecture”; and one mandala design of a bearded face, hardware nuts, and mirror, multiplied on a quadrant. On the right wall are three small nineteenth-century landscape drawings by minor artists, pale sketches: an Adolphe Appian of a fisherman in a mountain stream; an Antoine Chintreuil shoreline; and a seascape by Antoine Vollon. In contrast is the abstract piece by the Texas-based painter Robin Utterbach, behind the desk.

The master bedroom is a deep lagoon, a place for a lorelei or a kraken to dream. As Descartes and Proust did in their rooms, Ashbery spends a good deal of time in his large brass bed here, especially weekend mornings, with the classical radio station out of Albany and the New York Times. “White Pimpernel” Morris wallpaper dominates the walls with cool greens and creamy white flower petals in Celtic swirls. There is a flowered chaise longue and wall of books, mostly art history and art catalogues, collections of classic comics, travel, antique magazines, and the histories of various cities and locales, especially New York, Paris, and the Hudson Valley. A white door leads outside to a screened sleeping porch, furnished with white-painted wicker chairs and old rockers, hung with baskets of ivy, spider plants, and bleeding-heart or fuchsias. The porch looks west: the poet sits out there during summers and watches his garden, the sunsets, and in particular one huge old arabesquing elm tree way down the block. There are three large Victorian houses along the street and alley, rising over a new glass solarium built in the appropriate Gothic style.

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Hudson: A place for a lorelei or a kraken to dream. Master bedroom. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

The paintings in this room again include Hélion, a small sketch made for Ashbery in 1962 of a garden with a wheelbarrow; and Freilicher, a painting of a basket of Queen Anne (oxheart) cherries, inscribed “Happy Birthday John, July 1977”; another Freilicher, “Sunset,” shows her penthouse view, painted some time between 1969 and 1988. There is also a funny Red Grooms, titled “Summer Still Life,” featuring a can of Barbasol, razor, screen with seven hooks, a sailboat, and a fly, dated 1978; a very small piece by Danny Moynihan of two white stones; the Alex Katz portrait of Pierre Martory with a pipe, from about 1969, made from a metal cutout print, of which this image is a silkscreen detail. James Schuyler refers to this piece in his poem “Letter to a Friend: Who is Nancy Daum?” from The Crystal Lithium.14 There is also a sketch of Ashbery’s grandparents’ summer home in Pultneyville, New York, given to him in 1985 by Philip Bornarth, a painter who taught at Rochester Institute of Technology (he retired in 1999), and his wife Sylvia. “This was a summer cottage, remodeled for winter after his retirement,” says Ashbery.

There are two paintings by Neil Welliver: both Maine landscapes, one entitled “Drowned Cedar,” with a dead bough in the water; the other a view from his home. The latter is a small version of a larger painting that Ashbery once arranged to appear on the cover of ARTNews, when the original cover fell through and left editor Thomas Hess strapped, thereby jumpstarting Welliver’s career. Welliver painted this small version and gave it to Ashbery to thank him.

A Color Chart over the radio by the bed features several natural and manmade objects to illustrate the colors of the spectrum; it was acquired from the same Paris shop as the puppet-theater backdrops: “a shop full of wonderful old toys,” says Ashbery. The Joseph Cornell poster for a 1977 show features the print that appears on the cover of Ashbery’s collection Hotel Lautréamont. On the dresser, with a photo of his mother, is another of Ashbery in suit and tie from 1956 at an aunt and uncle’s; and what he calls a “daub” inscribed “Happy birthday,” by Mary Abbot, a friend of the poet Barbara Guest.

Adjoining the master bedroom—connected, in fact, by a walk-through closet—is the guest bedroom, papered with a truly eye-teasing Morris floral of white, yellow, green, blue, pink, gray, and other fresh, clear hues just a bit away from bright, with a pattern just short of busy. If the other bedroom was a lagoon, this one is a summer meadow. White-painted bookcases, woodwork details, and the yellow tile fireplace harmonize with and calm the excitement, which is, however, revived in miniature with a collection of “end-of-day” glass on the mantle, primarily vases with swirling color-dot patterns in every shape and size. Ashbery is justifiably proud of this room’s faux-
bamboo bedroom set of birds-eye maple; he has seen the same in a museum. A little ceramic lady with a fan kicks up her leg on a swinging hinge on the dresser top. The bookcase holds a collection of poetry: whether the poet stores these titles here because he likes the thought of these books in this particular room, or because he doesn’t want all those other voices right next to his own bed, I am not sure.

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Hudson: If the other bedroom was a lagoon, this one is a summer meadow. Guest room. Photo by Ahndraya Parlato.

Given the energy of the backdrop, the walls here have been hung with an appropriately quieter collection of smaller images: a Currier and Ives print of Saratoga Lake; an atypical Freilicher, from her short-
lived abstract period, captioned “Near the Sea”; a black and white Corot print, “Une matinee,” of dancing nymphs and sirens; a 1979 painting by Susan Shatter, “Scarlet Sunset,” showing a view of Lake Wesserunsett, Maine; another print, the “Horse Fair” of Rosa Bonheur; a drawing in pen and ink over pencil of loopy calligraphic figures, made by Raymond Mason, an English artist living in Paris and inscribed “1984, for JA”; another Bishop, this one a dark abstract gouache, 1960; by Nell Blaine, a 1953 ink sketch of a forest pond; by Joe Brainard, a wonderful flowery collage and watercolor entitled “Garden IV,” of about 1969; a framed oval print of a young girl after Jean-Baptiste Greuze—called “The Broken Pitcher,” it is a late eighteenth-century French allegory of lost virginity. “He did a lot of these!” remarks Ashbery. With the kicking lady on the dresser is a Hélion sketch of three musicians from 1968, when, caught up in the student movement, the artist made many such street scenes.

The guest bedroom is the last of the main rooms on the second floor; the bathroom is the only one I have not described, although, with its Rookwood tiles, cast-plaster ceiling moldings, and eight-foot tub supported by plump little caryatids, it certainly holds its own with the other rooms. It is, obviously, a most magnificent antique bathroom, one of the delights of which includes a bottle of Acacia Violet cologne given to the poet by Schuyler.

There is one last place to view: a doorway between the entrances of the two bedrooms leads up another flight of stairs. The attic staircase, unpapered, offers an illusion: its old painted plaster seems to be hung with one solitary frame about two feet square. But when we approach it, we discover that, no, it is not a frame, not a picture within a frame, but an air vent, nicely made and finished as if it were a glassless window. I am fond of this error, which I always make: expecting to see a work in a frame, I find only space through which I can look down and see the images hanging in the hall of the back staircase. I find it surprising, funny, mysterious, serendipitous, and literally absolutely clear: like so much of Ashbery’s poetry.

A little guest bedroom, once a maid’s room or nursery, opens at the top of these stairs. Two old twin beds have handwoven navy and white wool-and-cotton coverlets, one of which was woven by an Ashbery ancestor and dated 18-something. Here, on another wall of bookshelves, are the poet’s collection of French titles and the entire Anchor Bible. There is a large Hélion poster from 1980, published by the Galerie Karl Flinker, of a nude woman, with a baguette on a tableclothed table. Between the two beds hangs a large, handsome Kovac Star Map, a dark blue rectangle with white circles sprinkled with stars, and in a small frame on the right side of the room is the cover of Childlife Magazine from Christmas 1937.

1Contemporanea (January 1990), pp. 52-57. With photographs by Ken Schles.
2New York (May 20, 1991), pp. 46-52.
3Sienese Shredder (2008), pp. 20–23.
4“Slaves of Fashion,” The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of
Experience (New York: Viking, 2005), p. 180.
5“Outside the Shady Octopus Saloon,” New York Review of Books XLI. 10 (May 23, 1993), pp. 32-33.
6Complete Works, trans. Wallace Fowlie (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 193.
7“And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name,” Selected Poems (New York:
Penguin, 1986), p. 235.
8“Guest Speaker: John Ashbery, The Poet’s Hudson River
Restoration,” Architectural Digest (June 1994), pp. 36–44.
9Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957–1987 (New York: Knopf, 1989), pp. 181-187.
10Reported Sightings, p. 59.
11Reported Sightings, p. 300.
12Lawrence Grow and Dina von Zweck, American Victorian: A Style and Source Book (New York: Harper and Row, 1984).
13American Victorian, p. 129.
14Selected Poems (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), pp. 85-90.

Rain Taxi Online Edition, Summer 2008 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2008

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2.)

The Sea Shell Game

Do you enjoy finding which of two similar things is the better? Do you like to learn by observing how two poems compare? Would you like to see a poem of yours compared to one by someone else?
For centuries part of the training of Japanese children to be sensitive to beauty and the different levels of it was accomplished by a game. Even adults, in their lighter moments, will start a game with shells, or leaves or flowers. Perhaps you, too, have done the same process in order to find the best or loveliest in a collection.

From a pile of, let us say, stones one person draws two stones at random. The stones are compared and then judged to say, “This stone is lovelier than that one.” The *winners* go in one pile, the *losers* in another until all the stones have been compared. Then the process is repeated with the *winners*, again and again, until one stone remains.

When poets would gather for poetry contests, often sponsored by the emperor, even in times before Japan’s written history (764 AD), this same process of elimination was used. The prizes then were bolts of silk or, if a poem was really special, the emperor would give one of his possessions — a musical instrument or his fan.

When Basho was a young teacher of renga (the linked poetry form) he felt that the first verse of a renga (then called a hokku) was so important that his students should be made aware of the difference between a *good* hokku and a great one. Basho would organize contests built on the old principles of comparing things. Thus, in 1672 he commissioned scribes to write down records of his judging comments to be saved and these he collected under his title of “The Sea Shell Game.” This was the only book he published in his lifetime. Other books that he compiled or advised were all published by his patrons or students. Translations of “The Shell Game” give us a peek into what and how he taught.

WHAT THE SHELL GAME IS AT AHA! POETRY

For the first time, we are playing the Japanese Sea Shell Game in English. Poems which are called haiku are compared, commented on, and sorted out until one poem remains as *winner*. Various persons who are active haiku writers will be invited to do the judging. Your own haiku may be submitted for the contest.

Your poem will be printed without your name but with a pen name if you so chose. These will be picked, two at a time, at random. The judge will display the poems, comment on each and choose one over the other. This process will continue until one haiku is left. This one will be declared winner, the author’s name will be revealed and a prize awarded. A list of the winning haiku will be kept so that people who are new to the game can read the winning poems and authors’ names. The judges’ comments, as well as the poems discussed, will be archived in the AHA!POETRY Archive for reference and downloading.

Here are some examples of the game (there are many others as well) – by reading through the games that have already been judged, you can learn what it is that makes a good haiku, a winning haiku. Read on.

Sea Shell Game #1

JUDGE: Jane Reichhold
DATE: August 1, 1995
PARTICIPANTS: Anonymous

ROUND ONE – A

1.

ripples
on calm waters
sailors’ dreams

2.

artist’s diet
how lovingly she traces
the sandwich

Even though #1 is an excellent poem and completely without a flaw, I could not pick it for a winner because it is too close to Basho’s famous poem, “summer grass / the dreams / of warriors” which was possibly read by the author. There is a strong suspicion that having once seen wind rippling long grass on hill so that it looked as such a scene must have to Basho, that ghostly warriors were storming the rise. One of the ways of learning how haiku works is to take the Old Masters’ works into a new situation, as was done here. However, the question is, does one enter such an exercise in a contest? It is an excellent haiku and if Basho had not beat the author by his arrival on earth 300 years earlier, it would be a winner. So, I pick “artist’s diet” as winner of this round.

ROUND ONE – B

3.

dimples in a spa
the fat lady
and the rain

4.

still asleep
everyone but bald monks
praying at dawn

Though #3 is hardly profound, it does contain a comparison of the dimples rain would make in an outdoor (which is not clear, and here is only assumed) with those which one could see on the fat lady’s skin. And, there is a good chance that no one in haiku history has made that comparison! The poem is built on the very simple technique of using a phrase that encompasses both parts of the comparison.

It is almost like a riddle: where are the dimples in the spa? The word “dimples” could lead one to think “fat person”. The bit of nature “the rain” comes along as a bit of a surprise. It causes the reader to think: how do drops hitting water look? and how does a dimple look? and are they really that similar.

What bothers me in this poem is the phrase “the fat lady”. It moves the poem into an area of poetry the Japanese call “senryu” (SEND-JEW or SEN-YOU-ROO) which uses the haiku form to criticize others or make cruel jokes about them. The poem may make some readers smile, but it could be offensive to large women.

The poem “still asleep” has some problems in it, but because of the potential cruelty in “fat woman” I will pick #4.

ROUND ONE – C

5.

candled egg
the moon too seems full
of new life

6.

a binge
and two aspirins
poems arrive

“Haiku” similar to #6 make the hairs on the back of my neck to rise. Whether the poem is short and haiku-like or a long modern free verse work; there is something about this kind of bellyaching that makes me feel the writer is wasting the opportunity to be a poet. “Poems” complaining about how hard it is to be a poet or get a piece written is not about *vision* or *seeing*. No. # 6 tells us too much about the author. I would rather read the poems. Just looking at the shape of the two poems, however, it *feels* as if #5 is too long or too full and #6 has the traditional/modern (you got that?) look. But the content in #6, in this case, turns me against the work — a case where a personal prejudice of the judge can ruin a perfectly good poem.

ROUND ONE – D

7.

on the path home
cold frost darkens
children’s ruddy cheeks

children’s cheeks
windfall apples in a sack
still the tree is huge

Here we can see an author trying to work through what s/he would probably call “a haiku moment”. By reading both the poems one gets a pretty clear picture of what it was that was found to be touching. The poem #7 sets up a very interesting riddle. Something unknown which is “on the path home” is *darkened* by frost. Most often in haiku (which stressed the light in life), frost is thought of whitening everything it touches. As one contemplates the phrase “frost darkens” the reader is forced to look at the other side of frost and to see that it does, later, cause vegetation to turn dark. So what is the answer? — “children’s ruddy cheeks”? That is not what the reader expected to read! How great! A surprise! (it wakes the reader up!). When I was at the end of line two I expected to read “tomatoes” with the sad thought of those awful black globes on the plants the next morning. How welcomed it was then, to read “children’s ruddy cheeks”. To have used the old man’s ruddy cheeks would have spoiled the joke. It seems the word “cold” is not needed. Most frost is cold enough, unless the author needed another word or two to lengthen the second line. This is known as “padding” and is a questionable procedure. It is like a hem on a dress. One needs it but if the technique shows it was not done well. Rewrite. Thus, in this round, #8 wins.

ROUND TWO – A

2.

artist’s diet
how lovingly she traces
the sandwich

4.

still asleep
everyone but bald monks
praying at dawn

The poem #2 has some of the qualities of “a binge” as above, as it speaks of the *agony* of being creative. However, here the *picture* is somewhat clearer. It is easier to *see* a woman who is very hungry, not because of poverty but from dieting, bent over the drawing board idly drawing around the sketch of a sandwich while waiting for it to be time for lunch. There are reverberations regarding the drawn image and the real thing, and the *work of art* relating to the inner needs of the artist. I would question the use of the word “lovingly” in a haiku; it tends to be judgmental and attributes an emotion which may or may not be felt by the actor in the poem. If one could find a synonym for “lovingly” which could also be applied to both drawing and eating (none come to mind at the moment, but there must be one!) the writer could bump this poem into the winners’ list. Until then #4 “still asleep” will win.

ROUND TWO – B

5.

candled egg
the moon too seems full
of life

8.

children’s ruddy cheeks
windfall apples in a sack
still the tree is huge

Both of these poems use the comparison technique. In #5 the candled egg is compared to the full moon and I wonder how many people still know what a “candled egg” is. Still, if you have ever held a fertilized egg up to the light and have seen the dark shape of the chick within, you can appreciate the comparison. The last line bothers me since “of life” is a phrase fragment. It would feel better to have “full of life” be the third line. The words “too seems” are *weak* words and “seems” as too close to “as” or “like” — the dead giveaways for English metaphor. Just to say “candled egg” and “the moon” and “full of life” are all too close. There is no mystery or leap. No. #8 has the fault of not having one grammatical stop. It has two — at the end of both the first and second lines which causes it to sound choppy. But the poem does contain a comparison and the mystery is there because of the puzzle in the third line. No #8 wins by default.

ROUND THREE – END

4.

still asleep
everyone but the monks
praying at dawn

children’s ruddy cheeks
windfall apples in a sack
still the tree is huge

No. 4 contains a puzzle that results from the way the poem is written. Does it mean everyone is asleep except the monks who are praying at dawn? or does it mean all those who are asleep are praying — accepting the idea that sleep is a type of meditation? or a different kind of prayer? Would the poem work without the word “still”?

No. 8 has too many breaks. If it were possible to put a verb in this haiku that applied to “cheeks” and a sack of apples (maybe bulge?) the poem could be rescued. The idea of putting the comparisons together “ruddy cheeked children” “apples in a sack” coupled with “the tree is huge” sets up a tension the mind cannot quite comprehend but want to think about with the hope of finding an answer. That is one of the secrets of an unforgettable haiku — when the mind thinks there is a connection but cannot solve the riddle. Since neither poem is perfect, for this contest I would call it a draw.

Ready to play? Then go to http://www.ahapoetry.com/ shelgame.htm#GAME. Good luck!

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3.)

Listen to a wonderful interview of Jane Reichhold, a master of haiku, about Basho (THE Master) and about her latest book on Basho. Many interesting facts about Basho are presented. All you need to do is click on the “Haiku Basho interview” below or go to http:// www.ahapoetry.com/ and look for this on the page that pops up (bottom, left side).

Listen to
Haiku Basho interview conduced by Fred Adler
on Oct. 5, 2008

ocean breezes
the white sail fills
with summer

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4.)

While we’re at it, here is what I believe is the best site on the internet for short forms of poetry – technique, theory, etc.:

http://www.ahapoetry.com/h_info.html

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5.)

Did You Know?
That there was such a thing known as: POEMS Syndrome?

Background

Polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes (POEMS) syndrome is a rare multisystemic disease that occurs in the setting of a plasma cell dyscrasia. The pathophysiologic link between the constellation of symptoms and the underlying disease is not well understood, but the link may be related to changes in the levels of a cytokine or a growth factor. POEMS syndrome was first described by Crow in 1956 and then by Fukase in 1968. The syndrome was termed Crow-Fukase syndrome (by which it is known in Japan) by Nakanishi in a study of 102 cases in Japan.

In 1980, the acronym POEMS was coined by Bardwick et al based on the 5 main features of the disease, namely, polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes.

No specific case definition exists for POEMS syndrome; however, most authors agree that patients with POEMS syndrome should have 3 or more of the 5 features. Some authors have proposed that the presence of 2 major criteria, including a monoclonal plasma-proliferative disorder and polyneuropathy, in addition to the existence of 1 minor criterion, is sufficient for diagnosis. The suggested minor criteria include sclerotic bone lesions, organomegaly, edema, endocrinopathy, papilledema, and skin changes. However, the findings of a retrospective analysis of 629 patients using these criteria suggest that this approach may be inadequate for excluding other disease processes that may account for symptoms and that atypical presentations of POEMS may be misdiagnosed.1, 2

The polyneuropathy associated with POEMS syndrome is a bilateral symmetric disturbance. It involves both motor and sensory nerves, begins distally, and has a progressive proximal spread. Associated cranial or autonomic nerves are not involved. Both demyelination and axonal degeneration are noted.

The liver, the lymph nodes, and the spleen are the organs most frequently involved. Enlargement of the lymph nodes and spleen is secondary to changes consistent with Castleman disease (giant angiofollicular hyperplasia, multicentric plasma cell variant) in most patients. Approximately 15% of patients with POEMS syndrome have concomitant evidence of Castleman disease. Hepatomegaly is not associated with any defined histologic or pathophysiologic changes.

Multiple endocrinopathies have been associated with POEMS syndrome, and most patients have more than 1 endocrine abnormality. Many of the abnormalities noted can be explained by elevations in estrogen levels. Impotence and gynecomastia are common among men. Amenorrhea is common among women. Diabetes mellitus and glucose intolerance are also noted in many patients. Other associated endocrinopathies include hypothyroidism, hyperprolactinemia, and hypoparathyroidism.

POEMS syndrome is seen in the setting of a plasma cell dyscrasia. Although many plasma cell disorders have been reported in patients with POEMS syndrome, most patients are seen with osteosclerotic myeloma or monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance.

The M proteins most frequently found are the immunoglobulin A (IgA)– gamma and immunoglobulin G (IgG)–gamma light chains. In a case report of one patient with POEMS syndrome,3 serum electrophoresis demonstrated an M-band with isolated IgA heavy chain but no abnormal light chain, which could suggest abnormal secretion of monoclonal protein or the rare possibility of coincidental heavy-chain disease in association with POEMS syndrome. A single case of POEMS syndrome in association with Waldenström macroglobulinemia,4 characterized by immunoglobulin M–kappa paraproteinemia, has been reported. Classic multiple myeloma has not been associated with the disease. The type of plasma cell disorder has not been shown to be correlated with the constellation of symptoms noted in patients with POEMS syndrome.

Multiple dermatologic changes have been associated with POEMS syndrome. The most common changes include hyperpigmentation, skin thickening, sclerodermoid changes, and hypertrichosis. Other skin changes, including whitening of the proximal nail (Terry nails), peripheral edema, hyperhidrosis, clubbing of the fingers, Raynaud phenomenon, and angiomas, have been observed.

Other signs and symptoms associated with POEMS syndrome include papilledema, anasarca, pleural effusions, ascites, fever, thrombosis, renal insufficiency, and diarrhea.

(So that’s PAPA FeThiRD if you’re looking for another acronym!)

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6.)

‘The poem is a little myth of man’s capacity of making life meaningful.
And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see —
it is, rather, a light by which we may see —
and what we see is life.’

Poetry Quote by Robert Penn Warren

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7.)
In Memoriam:

Adrian Mitchell, British Poetry’s Voice of the Left, Dies at 76

By William Grimes
Published: December 23, 2008, New York Times

Adrian Mitchell, a prolific British poet whose impassioned verse against social injustice, racism and violence was often declaimed at antiwar rallies and political demonstrations, died on Saturday in London. He was 76.

He had been hospitalized for pneumonia, which may have brought on a heart attack, said his agent, Nicki Stoddart.

Mr. Mitchell, a spiritual descendant of William Blake, Walt Whitman and Bertolt Brecht, combined ferocity, playfulness and simplicity, with a broad audience in mind, in his poetry, plays, novels, song lyrics, children’s books and adaptations for the stage. His voluminous output included white-hot tirades against the Vietnam War, rapturous nature poems, nonsense verse and children’s tales of a wooly mammoth who returns to the modern world.

“Mitchell is a joker, a lyrics writer, a word-spinner, an epigrammist, a man of passion and imagination,” the art critic and novelist John Berger once wrote. “Against the present British state, he opposes a kind of revolutionary populism, bawdiness, wit and the tenderness sometimes to be found between animals.”

Mr. Mitchell was born in London and attended private schools. In 1952, after completing his national service in the Royal Air Force, an experience that, he said, “confirmed my natural pacifism,” he enrolled at Christ Church, Oxford. His original plan to train as a teacher fell by the wayside as he was drawn into a circle of poets that included George MacBeth and A. Alvarez and became literary editor of the magazine Isis.

After leaving Oxford in 1955, Mr. Mitchell worked as a journalist for The Oxford Mail and The Evening Standard in London. He also began performing at poetry readings and taking part in left-wing political work. “I think a poet, like any other human being, should recognize that the world is mostly controlled by political forces and should become politically active too,” he told the magazine Contemporary Poets in 1991.

His early poetry, nearly all of it political, in highly structured verse forms, relied on simple, democratic language. “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people,” he wrote in the preface to his first substantial collection, “Poems” (1964). His later poetry, often loose and improvisatory, included more personal subject matter. Much of it was written for children. Poems like “To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam),” which he first read at a rally in Trafalgar Square in 1964 and has updated over the years to suit changing events, helped establish Mr. Mitchell as British poetry’s voice of the left.

The poem begins:

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

In 2003, the socialist magazine Red Pepper anointed him Shadow Poet Laureate, an appropriate title for the author of the collections “Peace Is Milk” (1966), “Out Loud” (1968), “Love Songs of World War III” (1988 ) and “Heart on the Left” (1997).

He wrote many plays and adaptations for the stage, for adults and children. Most notably, he collaborated with Peter Brook on two productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peter’s Weiss’s “Marat/Sade” (1964) and the antiwar play “US” (1966), for which he wrote seven song lyrics.

He also wrote “Tyger” (1971), a play about William Blake, and the song lyrics for Peter Hall’s stage version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” And he edited “Blackbird Singing” (2001), a collection of Paul McCartney’s poetry and lyrics.

At his death Mr. Mitchell had just completed three works to be published next year: “Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008” (Bloodaxe Books), the children’s collection “Umpteen Poems” (Orchard Books) and “Shapeshifters” (Frances Lincoln), a retelling of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”

His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Celia Hewitt; three daughters, Briony, Sasha and Beattie; two sons, Alistair and Danny; and nine grandchildren.

In a 2005 poll conducted by the Poetry Society, Mr. Mitchell’s “Human Beings” was voted the poem that people most wanted to send into space in the hope that it would be read a century later. “It is about the joy of being human, but that doesn’t mean that it’s against animals or alien beings,” Mr. Mitchell said. “When it goes into space and it’s read by aliens, I’d hate for them to think that it’s anti-alternative life forms.”

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8.)

Does anyone want to get Poetry magazine for half-price? A gift subscription is available during the holiday season, so I’m looking for someone to purchase the 2-for-1 subscription with me, essentially getting this wonderful publication for half-price. Call me if you want to go partners – Ron – 247-5913.

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9.)

Linebreak is an online journal with a bias for good poetry. Here is a poem from their web site this week:

Falling
By Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall is the current Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds degrees from Florida State University and Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, Harpur Palate, and Pebble Lake Review.

For the 141 in the Triangle Waist Shirt Factory, Union Square, 1911

falling

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10.)

Here’s a poem from Copper Canyon Press, not in its “Reading Room” (http://www.coppercanyonpress.org/) as I usually reprint in the Newsletter, but from another source. It was such a find that I felt you should read it in this space usually reserved for a Copper Canyon poem.

RATHER THAN PROVIDE THE USUAL COPPER CANYON PRESS POEM, GO TO THE SITE BELOW AND SEE THE BEAUTIFUL BROADSIDE OF M.S. MERWIN, AS HIS OFFERING TO THEM FOR THEIR ANNUAL APPEAL. YOU CAN PRINT IT ON ANY QUALITY PAPER, IN ANY OF 4 SIZES, TO PROVIDE A LASTING BROADSIDE FOR YOUR OWN COLLECTION.

http://www.coppercanyonpress.org/yearendappeal/

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11.)

American Life in Poetry: Column 197

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

I suspect that one thing some people have against reading poems is that they are so often so serious, so devoid of joy, as if we poets spend all our time brooding about mutability and death and never having any fun. Here Cornelius Eady, who lives and teaches in Indiana, offers us a poem of pure pleasure.

A Small Moment


I walk into the bakery next door
To my apartment. They are about
To pull some sort of toast with cheese
From the oven. When I ask:
What’s that smell? I am being
A poet, I am asking

What everyone else in the shop
Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn’t;
I am speaking on behalf of two other
Customers who wanted to buy the
Name of it. I ask the woman
Behind the counter for a percentage
Of her sale. Am I flirting?
Am I happy because the days
Are longer? Here’s what

She does: She takes her time
Choosing the slices. “I am picking
Out the good ones,” she tells me. It’s
April 14th. Spring, with five to ten
Degrees to go. Some days, I feel my duty;
Some days, I love my work.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 1997 by Cornelius Eady, from his most recent book of poetry, “Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems,” A Marian Wood Book, Putnam, 2008. Reprinted by permission of Cornelius Eady. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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12.)

KEEP PAST VERMONT POETS ALIVE! SOLICITING YOUR HELP:

POETS OF VERMONT

PAST AND PRESENT

PROJECT

If you have any books of poetry, chapbooks, or just poems written by Vermont poets, dating 1980 and earlier, famous or not, I’d like to know about them. I’m beginning a project that deals strictly with Vermont poets, from Vermont’s past, with summaries of the poets themselves, a portrait photo or drawing of the poet, along with a small sampling of poems. If you think you can help, you probably can! Please contact me.

Ronald Lewis

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13.)

If you ever have a need to contact me, here’s how to go about doing so:

Ronald Lewis:
Phone: 802-247-5913
Cell: 802-779-5913
Home: 1211 Forest Dale Road, Brandon, VT 05733
Email: sshortpt@verizon.net

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14.)

YEAR-ROUND POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

MIDDLEBURY

1) The Otter Creek Poets offer a poetry workshop every Thursday afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00; this workshop has been meeting weekly for over 10 years. Bring a poem or follow their weekly assignments/ suggestions. For additional information, contact Ronald Lewis (see above).

2) The Spring Street Poets. By invitation only. More on this group in the future.

BELLOWS FALLS

1) Great River Arts Institute – See details elsewhere in this newsletter

2) Poetry Workshop at Village Square Booksellers with Jim Fowler (no relation to owner Pat). The goal of this course is to introduce more people to the art of writing poetry and will include a discussion of modern poetry in various forms and styles. Each week, the course will provide time to share and discuss participant’s poetry. Students should bring a poem and copies to the first class. The course will be limited to 5 to 8 students to allow adequate time to go through everyone’s poetry contributions and will meet in the cafe at Village Square Booksellers. James Fowler, of Charlestown, New Hampshire, has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a major in Nature Writing. He was the editor of Heartbeat of New England, a poetry anthology. Fowler has been widely published since 1998 in such journals as Connecticut Review, Quarterly of Light Verse, and Larcom Review. Fowler is a founding member of the River Voices Writer’s Circle, and a regular reader at Village Square Booksellers-River Voices Poetry Readings. The fee for this 6 week Workshop is $100, payable to Mr. Fowler at the first class. Pre-registration for the Poetry Workshop is suggested and may be made by calling Village Square Booksellers at 802-463-9404 or by email at vsbooks@sover.net or jfowler177@comcast.net.

GUILFORD

The Guilford Poets Guild, formed in 1998, meets twice a month to critique and support each other’s work. Their series of sponsored readings by well-known poets which began at the Dudley Farm, continues now at the Women and Family Life Center.

WAITSFIELD

The Mad River Poets consists of a handful of poets from the Route 100 corridor. More on this group in the future.

STOWE

There is another poetry workshop happening in Stowe, but unfortunately I know nothing much about this group. If you do, contact me!

NORWICH

This group meets on the first Sunday of every month at the Norwich Library, 6:30 p.m.
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15.)
OTHER POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

BURLINGTON

Scribes in the making put pen to paper as part of an open verse- writing session at the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College Street. Three consecutive Thursdays, starting January 8, 2009, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Free. Contact information: 862-1094.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

Thinking Like a Poetry Editor: How to Be Your Own Best Critic
(“The Ossmann Method” Poetry Workshop – Crash Course)
Instructor: April Ossmann
The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Saturday, January 17th OR Saturday, February 14th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$45

Learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. Participants will receive written editorial suggestions for both poems from the instructor. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8. Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com

The Ossmann Method Poetry Workshop: Building Your Tool Kit
Instructor: April Ossmann
The Writer’s Center, 58 North Main Street, White River Jct., VT 05001
Sundays, 8 weeks, January 18th – March 8th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
$200

Build or improve your poetic techniques tool kit and learn how to think like a poetry editor! In this workshop we’ll turn the usual workshop model on its head and not only allow the poet being critiqued to speak, but to speak first and critique their own poem, discussing correlations between the criticisms s/he has for other participants’ poems and her/his own before group discussion begins. This will offer a taste of what it means to be both poet and poetry editor, a position in which it becomes easier to objectively assess your own work; to spot dull vs. energetic syntax, generic vs. original imagery and other strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. It also empowers the poet in the process, and engenders an unusually positive and congenial workshop atmosphere. This workshop will be both critical and generative, so I will assign reading and generative exercises meant to teach or improve writing skills. Pre-registration required; enrollment limited to 8 (minimum enrollment for the course to proceed is 4). Info: (802) 333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and www.aprilossmann.com
Note: If you know of any others, or have personal information about the workshop in Stowe and Guilford, please send me that information. I realize that there are several smaller groups or workshops around the state. However, because of their intimacy, they are not posted above, allowing them to offer “memberships” to close friends or acquaintances that they feel would be most appropriate.

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16.)

YEAR-ROUND POETRY WRITING CENTERS IN VERMONT

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

The Writer’s Center is for serious writers and nervous beginners. It’s for procrastinators who could benefit from regular deadlines – and for the prolific who could benefit from quality feedback. It’s for anyone with a manuscript hidden in a drawer, or a life story or poem waiting to be written. It’s for people who don’t know where to start or how to end. And for writers who are doing just fine on their own, but would like the company of other writers. The Writer’s Center is for anyone who is writing or wants to write. One of the Center’s consultants is April Ossman (www.aprilossmann.com). Founded by Joni B. Cole and Sarah Stewart Taylor, the Writer’s Center offers instruction and inspiration through a selection of workshops, discussions, and community. We would love to see you – and your writing – at The Writer’s Center! For more info, http:// www.thewriterscenterwrj.com/.

UNDERHILL

Women Writing for (a) Change supports the authentic experience of women who honor themselves through creative writing. Our community supports reflection as we move into our questions and awaken to change. Participants enhance expressive skills, strengthen their voices, deepen themselves as women as writers for positive change in all spheres of life. Creative writing in all genres is our shared vehicle. Women Writing for (a) Change is for women who, 1) dream of writing for self-discovery, for personal or social healing, 2) hunger for creative process in their lives, 3) yearn to explore their feminine voice, 4) crave reflective, space, and 5) are in transition. For more information, go to their web site at www.womenwritingVT.com/ or contact Sarah Bartlett at either 899-3772 or sarah@womenwritingvt.com.

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17.)

POETRY EVENT CALENDAR

Below please find the most current list of poetry happenings in Vermont for the near future. Please be aware that these events can be found on Poetz.com, but there is usually additional information that is typed here that would be cumbersome to place on Poetz.com. Please note all events are Vermont-based unless they are of extreme importance or happen to lie just outside our borders. If you would like to save on paper and ink, please just highlight what you need, or perhaps only events for the coming month, and print that information.

2009:

Thu, Jan 8: Salisbury Library, Salisbury, 3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Children’s poetry workshop in Middlebury. Children’s poet Ted Scheu will share some of his own fun and funny poems and then lead children in writing their own poetry, reminiscent of Robert Frost’s. Info: 388-4014.

Sat, Jan 10: Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Open Mic Poetry Reading. Hear local poets from the River Voices. Bring your own original work to share or read from a favorite author. Listen to poetry. Contact to participate as a reader or let them know that you’ll be attending as a listener. For info, 463-9404.

Mon, Jan 12: Grafton Library, Main Street, Grafton, 7:00 p.m. Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose. First of three-part book discussion series led by Dr. Deborah Luskin from the Vermont Humanities Council. For info, Linda Montecalvo at 843-1444.

Wed, Jan 14: Howe Library, Mayer Room, Hanover, NH. Reception and book signing by the authors of the literary magazine, Bloodroot. Bloodroot Literary Magazine is a nonprofit publication released each December. Their mission is to provide a journal of high production values and quality material by established and emerging authors. The 2009 issue of Bloodroot features cover art by Christy Hale and poems, short stories and creative nonfiction by 28 outstanding authors, many of them familiar names here in Vermont – Regina Brault, Carol Milkuhn and Nancy Means Wright. The book is scheduled to be out and about in mid-December 2008.

Wed, Jan 14: Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Hayes Room, 135 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Why I Love Mountains and Rivers. Poet and translator David Hinton will speak on his passion for mountains and rivers. His new book, Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology, will be available for purchase and signing. For info, 223-3338, www.whyilovewhatilove.com.

Fri, Jan 16: Outer Space Café in the Flynndog Gallery, 208 Flynn Avenue, Burlington, 7:00 p.m. Poet’s Night. First of this year’s series.

Tue, Jan 20: Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Charles Barasch. Celebrate Inauguration Week with UVM linguistics teacher and the Plainfield town moderator, Charles Barasch, who will present Dreams of the Presidents, a collection of dream poems – one for each American president. Humorous, and laced with events of historical interest, each poem gives insight into the presidents’ lives. This book offers a well-timed look at politicians, as well some much-needed laughs. For info, 229-1069.

Wed, Jan 21: Robert Hull Fleming Museum, UVM Campus, 61 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Art and Poetry: The Painted Word featuring poets Myronn Hardy and Matthew Miller. The Robert Hull Fleming Museum presents a poetry series hosted by Major Jackson, associate professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of English. This reading series highlights established and emergent New England poets whose work represents significant explorations into language, song, and art. Info, http://www.uvm.edu/~fleming/.

Co-sponsored with the English Department and funded in part by the James and Mary Buckham Fund.

Thu, Jan 22: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too”: Winter with Robert Frost. Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s winter poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served; free. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Thu, Jan 22: Briggs Carriage Bookstore, 16 Park Street, Brandon, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Charles Barasch. Celebrate Inauguration Week with UVM linguistics teacher and the Plainfield town moderator, Charles Barasch, who will present Dreams of the Presidents, a collection of dream poems – one for each American president. Humorous, and laced with events of historical interest, each poem gives insight into the presidents’ lives. This book offers a well-timed look at politicians, as well some much-needed laughs. For info, Peter Marsh at 247-0050.

Sun, Jan 25: Red Hen Baking Company & Café, Route 2, Middlesex Village, 6:30 p.m. Poetry reading. Celebrate Robert Burns’ 250th birthday with our own Scottish Poet Len Irving! Come and read poetry – your own or your favorites – or listen to others. Info, Earline Marsh at 223-6777. (Red Hen readings are quarterly).

Mon, Jan 26: Grafton Library, Main Street, Grafton, 7:00 p.m. Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose. Second of three-part book discussion series led by Dr. Deborah Luskin from the Vermont Humanities Council. For info, Linda Montecalvo at 843-1444.

Mon, Jan 26: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eileen Myles to read. Of Sorry, Tree Eileen Myles most recent volume Chicago Review says: “Her politics are overt, her physicality raw, yet it is the subtle gentle noticing in her poems that overwhelms.” Eileen Myles is among the ranks of the officially restless, a poet who writes fiction (Chelsea Girls, Cool for You) an art writer and journalist whose essays and reviews have appeared in Art Forum, and Book Forum, The Believer, Parkett, The Nation and a libretticist whose opera “Hell” (w composer Michael Webster) was performed on both coasts in 2004 and again in 2006. Her first full collection of nonfiction writings, The Importance of Being Iceland, for which she received a Warhol/Creative Capital grant will come out in spring 09 from Semiotext(e)/MIT.

Thu, Feb 5: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Cleopatra Mathis to read. Cleopatra Mathis was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana. Her first five books of poems were published by Sheep Meadow Press. A sixth collection, White Sea, was published by Sarabande Books in 2005. Her work has appeared widely in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tri-Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women, and The Practice of Poetry. Various prizes for her work include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, in 1984 and 2003; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poems in 2001; the Peter Lavin Award for Younger Poets from the Academy of American Poets; two Pushcart Prizes (1980 and 2006); The Robert Frost Resident Poet Award; a 1981-82 Fellowship in Poetry at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts; The May Sarton Award; and Individual Artist Fellowships in Poetry from both the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey State Arts Council. She is the Frederick Sessions Beebe Professor of the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College, where she has directed the Creative Writing Program since 1982.

Fri, Feb 6: Firehouse Gallery, 135 Church Street, Burlington, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Poetry Reading and Drumming. As part of the Burlington Art Walk, poet and artist Terry Hauptman will provide a poetry reading accompanied by Jerry Geier’s drumming on his sculptural slit drums will entertain all. While you’re at the Firehouse Gallery, you can visit these two artists’ exhibits, titled Veiled Lineage. It features two Vermont artists investigating concepts of ancestry, heritage and tradition; using sculpture, painting, and installation. Jerry Geier’s assembly of sculptures, or totems, feature carved faces of wood and clay derived from indigenous and modern societies. The totems are hollowed and act as functional drums. Terry Hauptman’s Songline Scrolls feature colorful multi-cultural processions on wall-sized scrolls of paper. These scrolls are a metaphor for life, representing a continual unfolding revelation of change and celebration. In this 400th anniversary of European arrival in the Champlain Valley, this exhibit highlights our evolving notions of cultural and spiritual identity, and exposes the paradox of searching for meaning in the very same cultures that were supplanted by our own colonialist history.

Mon, Feb 9: Grafton Library, Main Street, Grafton, 7:00 p.m. Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose. Third of three-part book discussion series led by Dr. Deborah Luskin from the Vermont Humanities Council. For info, Linda Montecalvo at 843-1444.

Sun, Feb 15: Warming hut log cabin at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, 54 Elm Street, Woodstock, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Winter Readings in the National Park. Join a park ranger in sharing short stories and poetry about winter at the ski shelter warming cabin. Bring your own stories and poetry to share or just listen to others readings while enjoying the warmth of the cabin’s woodstove. Hot chocolate will be provided. Cost: $5.00 trail pass from the Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center. For info, Tim Maguire at 457-3368 X22 or Tim_maguire@nps.gov.

Wed, Feb 18: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too”: Winter with Robert Frost. Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s winter poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served; free. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Mon, Feb 23: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Waters to read. Michael Waters’ eight books of poetry include Darling Vulgarity (2006—finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems (2001), and Green Ash, Red Maple, Black Gum (1997) from BOA Editions, and Bountiful (1992), The Burden Lifters (1989), and Anniversary of the Air (1985) from Carnegie Mellon UP. His several edited volumes include Contemporary American Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois UP, 2003). In 2004 he chaired the poetry panel for the National Book Award. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Foundation, Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, and four Pushcart Prizes, he teaches at Monmouth University in New Jersey and in the Drew University MFA Program.

Wed, Feb 25: Peabody Library, Route 113, Post Mills. Reception and book signing by the authors of the literary magazine, Bloodroot. Bloodroot Literary Magazine is a nonprofit publication released each December. Their mission is to provide a journal of high production values and quality material by established and emerging authors. The 2009 issue of Bloodroot features cover art by Christy Hale and poems, short stories and creative nonfiction by 28 outstanding authors, many of them familiar names here in Vermont – Regina Brault, Carol Milkuhn and Nancy Means Wright. The book is scheduled to be out and about in mid-December 2008.

Sun, Mar 8: Warming hut log cabin at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, 54 Elm Street, Woodstock, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Winter Readings in the National Park. Join a park ranger in sharing short stories and poetry about winter at the ski shelter warming cabin. Bring your own stories and poetry to share or just listen to others readings while enjoying the warmth of the cabin’s woodstove. Hot chocolate will be provided. Cost: $5.00 trail pass from the Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center. For info, Tim Maguire at 457-3368 X22 or Tim_maguire@nps.gov.

Sun, Mar 9: Plymouth State University, Smith Recital Hall, Johnson, NH, 7:00 p.m. Poet C.D. Wright. 2008 – 2009 Eagle Pond Author’s Series. A compelling and idiosyncratic poet, C.D. Wright has twelve collections including Rising, Falling, Hovering (2008), a weaving of deeply personal and politically ferocious poems; Deepstep Come Shining and Cooling Time. Her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana was awarded the Dorothea Lange-Paul Tayor Prize. Her new and selected poems Steal Away was on the shortlist for the Griffin Trust Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the Israel J. Kapstein Professor at Brown University. Free. (603) 535-5000 to reserve spaces.

Thu, Apr 2: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Rosanna Warren to read. Rosanna Warren was born in Connecticut in 1953. She was educated at Yale (BA 1976) and Johns Hopkins (MA 1980). She is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981), and three collections of poems: Each Leaf Shines Separate (Norton, 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993, Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets), and Departure (Norton, 2003). She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, among others. She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

Sun, Apr 5: Plymouth State University, Smith Recital Hall, Johnson, NH, 7:00 p.m. Poet Wesley McNair. 2008 – 2009 Eagle Pond Author’s Series. Wesley McNair is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations and a United States Artists Fellowship to “America’s finest living artists.” Other honors include the Robert Frost Prize; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry (for Fire); the Theodore Roethke prize from Poetry Northwest; the Pushcart Prize and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal. McNair is currently Professor Emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine at Farmington. Free. (603) 535-5000 to reserve spaces.

Mon, Apr 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eric Pankey to read. Eric Pankey is the author of six books of poetry: Reliquaries, Cenotaph, The Late Romances, Apocrypha, Heartwood and For the New Year. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a NEA Fellowship, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, and an Ingram Merrill Grant. His work has appeared in many journals, including Partisan Review, The New Yorker, Triquarterly, DoubleTake and The New England Review. He teaches at George Mason University and lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Thu, Apr 23: Middlebury College, Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. A talk by Adina Hoffman, on her new book, My Happiness Bears no Relation to Happiness: Poet Taha Muhammad Ali and the Palestinian Century, (Yale University Press), the first biography of a Palestinian poet, and the first portrayal of Palestinian literature and culture in the 20th Century. Sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Middle East Studies Program. For info, 443-5151, E-mail: schine@middlebury.edu.

Thu, May 14: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Harper to read. Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1938. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from what is now known as California State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Brown since 1970. Harper has published more than 10 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985). A new poetry collection, Use Trouble, is forthcoming in fall 2008 from The University of Illinois Press. His other collections include Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History Is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979). Harper was the first poet laureate of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Harper is also a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, and the recipient of numerous distinctions, including the Robert Hayden Poetry Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Melville-Cane Award, the Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award.

Mon, Jun 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Eamon Grennan to read. Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated at UCD, where he studied English and Italian, and Harvard, where he received his PhD in English. His volumes of poetry include What Light There Is & Other Poems, (North Point Press, 1989), Wildly for Days (1983), What Light There Is (1987), As If It Matters (1991), So It Goes (1995), Selected and New Poems (2000) and Still Life with Waterfall (2001). His latest collection, The Quick of It, appeared in 2004 in Ireland, and in Spring 2005 in America. His books of poetry are published in the United States by Graywolf Press, and in Ireland by Gallery Press. Other publications include Leopardi: Selected Poems (Princeton 1997), and Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century, a collection of essays on modern Irish poetry. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in many magazines both in Ireland and the US. Grennan has given lectures and workshops in colleges and universities in the US, including courses for the graduate programs in Columbia and NYU. During 2002 he was the Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University. His grants and prizes in the United States include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Leopardi: Selected Poems received the 1997 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and Still Life with Waterfall was the recipient of the 2003 Lenore Marshall Award for Poetry from the American Academy of Poets. His poems have been awarded a number of Pushcart prizes. Grennan has taught since 1974 at Vassar College where he is the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English.

Thu, Jul 9: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Michael Ryan to read. Michael Ryan has published three collections of poetry, including In Winter, Threats Instead of Trees, has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and God Hunger, as well as A Difficult Grace: On Poets, Poetry, and Writing, and the memoir Secret Life. His work has appeared in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, New Republic, and elsewhere. Ryan has been honored by the Lenore Marshall Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and a Guggenheim. Ryan is Professor of English and Creative Writing at UC, Irvine.

Mon, Jul 27: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Doreen Gilroy to read. Doreen Gilroy’s first book, The Little Field of Self (The University of Chicago Press, 2002), won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. Her second book, Human Love, was published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2005. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Slate, TriQuarterly and many other magazines.

Mon, Aug 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Cole Swensen to read. Cole Swensen is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver. She is the author of five collections of poems, including Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Poetry Prize; Noon (Sun and Moon Press, 1997), which won a New American Writing Award; and Numen (Burning Deck Press, 1995) which was nominated for the PEN West Award in Poetry. Her translations include Art Poetic’ by Olivier Cadiot (Sun & Moon Press, Green Integer Series, 1999) and Natural Gaits by Pierre Alferi (Sun & Moon, 1995). She splits her time among Denver, San Francisco and Paris.

Thu, Sep 3: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Marge Piercy to read. Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and most recently her 17th volume, The Crooked Inheiritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently SEX WARS in Perennial paperback now. Her memoir Sleeping With Cats is also in Harper Collins Perennial. Last spring, Schocken published Pesach for the Rest of Us. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD Louder We Can’t Hear You Yet contains her political and feminist poems. She has been an editor of Leapfrog Press for the last ten years and also poetry editor of Lilith.

Thu, Oct 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Pattiann Rogers to read. Pattiann Rogers has published ten books of poetry, a book-length essay, The Dream of the Marsh Wren, and A Covenant of Seasons, poems and monotypes, in collaboration with the artist Joellyn Duesberry. Her 11th book of poetry, Wayfare, will appear from Penguin in April, 2008. Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2005 Literary Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation, and five Pushcart Prizes. In the spring of 2000 she was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. Her papers are archived in the Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community and the Natural World at Texas Tech University. She has taught as a visiting professor at various universities, including the Universities of Texas, Arkansas, and Montana, Houston University, and Washingon University. She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University’s MFA in Writing Program. Rogers has two sons and three grandsons and lives with her husband in Colorado.

Tue, Oct 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Major Jackson to read. “Jackson knows the truth of black magic. It is a magic as simple as the belief in humanity that subverts racism, or the esoteric and mystical magic of making jazz, the music of hope and love.” —Aafa Weaver. Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, Hoops (Norton: 2006), a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry. and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Poems by Major Jackson have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, Post Road, Triquarterly, The New Yorker, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. In 2006-2007, he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Tue, Nov 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet Sebastian Matthews to read. Sebastian Matthews is the author of the poetry collection We Generous (Red Hen Press) and a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps (W. W. Norton). He co-edited, with Stanley Plumly, Search Party: Collected Poem s of William Matthews. Matthews teaches at Warren Wilson College and serves on the faculty at Queens College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry and prose has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, New England, Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Seneca Review, The Sun, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Writer’s Almanac, among others. Matthews co-edits Rivendell, a place-based literary journal, and serves as poetry consultant for Ecotone:
Re-Imagining Place.

2010:

Mon, Feb 22: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined. Poet David Shapiro to read. David Shapiro (born January 2, 1947) is an American poet, literary critic, and art historian and . Shapiro has written some twenty volumes of poetry, literary, and art criticism. He was first published at the age of thirteen, and his first book was published at the age of eighteen. Shapiro has taught at Columbia, Bard College, Cooper Union, Princeton University, and William Paterson University. He wrote the first monograph on John Ashbery, the first book on Jim Dine’s paintings, the first book on Piet Mondrian’s flower studies, and the first book on Jasper Johns’ drawings. He has translated Rafael Alberti’s poems on Pablo Picasso, and the writings of the Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Shapiro has won National Endowment for the HumanitiesNational Endowment for the Arts fellowships, been nominated for a National Book Award, and been the recipient of numerous grants for his work. Shapiro lives in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York City, with his wife and son.

Again, if you become aware of an event that isn’t posted above, please let me know. My apologies if I have left off anything of importance to any of you, but it can always be corrected in the next Vermont Poetry Newsletter.

That’s about it for now. Again, keep your eyes peeled for poetry events. I hope this email finds you all with good health and sharp pencils.

Your fellow Poet,

Ron Lewis