About sarahwbartlett

voice midwife and advocate for marginalized women; creative spirit seeking space; lover of dark chocolate, gardens, my family and words; visual, tactile, kinesthetic learner; world traveler, homebody

another marathon behind me

For the fourth year – the last three, consecutive – I have enjoyed the challenge of writing 12 poems in 12 hours. I was surprisingly relaxed this time around, even to the point of considering pushing myself to do the full 24. But my new puppy had other ideas about my availability. So in addition to providing her own prompt, she has challenged me/us to be ready to tackle the longer marathon by next year. In addition to offering a wide variety of prompts (and this year, each hour’s prompt included at least two options – one verbal, the other visual – which I sometimes combined in my response), the marathon offers an immediate community of like-minded poets writing, reading, commenting on and most of all, encouraging one another on a private Facebook page during the process and in the days following. It is in the days following that the reading/feedback starts in earnest. Some connections made during this intense period of time continue over the months until the next year’s marathon. Others exist in the bubble of this single week in June. Some are utterly transient, the chance comment seen or responded to when someone is hurting, frustrated, jubilant.

No matter what, the challenge leaves participants with 12 -24 new writings to ponder, revise, scrap, repurpose. It’s all good. Raw material, yes. But more, it awakens something inside. In particular, after this pandemic year of isolation and inner-dependency, those 12 hours opened up possibility and connection. I was reminded of how much shared interest and curiosity there is in the international writing world. At some point I’ll get the statistics – how many participated from how many countries. For now, I am basking in the microcosm of lives shared on my tiny computer screen, spanning the globe, time zones, ages and every/anything else you can name. We shared favorite snacks, music selections, memes, tears, side stories, background stories, what was working and what was not, photos of our space or view or first draft … All of this, plus all the original poetry. No matter what, the challenge leaves participants with a lot more than they started with.

Huge gratitude to the annual organizers, Jacob Jans and Caitlin Jans, for their tireless devotion to furthering creativity around the world, And for their transparency in sharing their own limitations, enlisting the support of others to continue this fine tradition of poem-making and sharing.

rebirth

The Westport Art Group is having an in-person gallery show in its beautiful space, marking a slow re-emergence into public life. The theme, appropriately enough, is “Renewal.” For the first time, members of the WAG Poetry Group offered copies of their work to be included in the show. They hang in the lobby where a more intimate atmosphere allows a guest to stand quietly, read, then sit and ponder the words. The gallery is of course more visually enticing, with over 40 works vying for attention.

Of my three poems gracing those walls, I share one here called “Rebirth.”

REBIRTH

Connections grow slowly
where you cannot see
the alchemy of souls

interweaving their words
of love and despair,
of hunger and joy

rooting themselves within
one another as tangled vines
mingle stalk and leaf

the new sprung from the old
dancing step-in and let-go, sprouts
from the nodes of prior years’ blooms

splitting in new directions
even as our roots spring
from shared soil.

swb

latest review of a poetry chapbook

Aside

Diane's chapbook is now available from Kelsay Books

I continue to love reading and reviewing new poetry collections. As Mary Oliver wrote, “you never know where a sentence will lead,” I find all kinds of new ideas, unexpected connections, even familiar tales retold in language ranging from comforting to startling – and everything in between. And this latest collection, titled “Coronary Truth” by Diane Elayne Dees is no exception. The review, as most of the others I do these days, is posted on MomEggReview.

life lines reboot

Two years following its initial publication, “LifeLines: Re-Writing Lives from Inside Out” – our second collection of writings from Vermont’s incarcerated women – is getting a second printing and renewed publicity. This week my author’s note appeared in MomEggReview.

While the note covers the usual content of a book review – focussing on intent as well as content – it goes further to describe the process involved in bringing the book to print. It is our hope to re-introduce this important piece of work to a wide audience to include academic departments of criminal and social justice studies; social activist organizations; community organizations working toward restorative justice; and the general reader moved by these from-the-heart accounts of women, many of them young mothers separated from families and imprisoned for addiction and mental health issues far better treated in facilities designed for that purpose.

“LifeLines: Re-Writing Lives from Inside Out” remains available from both Amazon and Ingram. It is a moving read in its own right; but as a discussion vehicle for involvement and change fulfills its true mission.

spring birdsong

Spring Birdsong

I have been seeking words
for birdsong pouring full-throttled
from small feathered throats
pulsating strands of layered tone
neither drifting nor wafting
but tumbling, lifting, braiding
rhythmic clarity that spring
is not arriving but here
anticipating
unencumbered walks
into coatless sun.

Emerged from winter’s dark
over-long cold, I unwrap the fur pelt,
stretch heart to warming sun grateful
for the open sky of birdsong returning
after long silence, rising free
on nature’s urgent rhythms.

swb