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.”
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.
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.
It turns out that 750 words is not much when it comes to a thorough analysis of or even simple response to a full-length collection of poems. But if it is enough to help readers filter through the many options to match their interests to the offerings, then it is a job well-done.
This question of writing about flowers is in fact very near and dear to my heart. The need arises in all of us who live close to the earth, to the heart, to what pulses through and connects all of life. As a poet, I love the idea of writing a bouquet of poems arising from a common seed. I also love the sublte metaphor and its shift through the poem. It draws me into multiple layers of meaning. [Clearly, my weeklong poetry workshop wtih Marge Piercy is still with me!] And, of course, I love how a simple experience can evoke such a powerful poetic response.
How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This,
by Hanif Abruddaqub
dear reader, with our heels digging into the good
mud at a swamp’s edge, you might tell me something
about the dandelion & how it is not a flower itself
but a plant made up of several small flowers at its crown
& lord knows I have been called by what I look like
more than I have been called by what I actually am &
I wish to return the favor for the purpose of this
exercise, which, too, is an attempt at fashioning
something pretty out of seeds refusing to make anytning
worthwhile of their burial. size me up & skip whatever semantics
arrive to the tongue first, say: that boy he look like a hollowed-out grandfather
clock, he look like a million-dollar god with a two-cent
heaven. like all it takes is one kiss & before morning,
you could scatter his whole mind across a field.
The poet writes of this poem:
I was at a reading shortly after the election, and the poet (who was black) was reading gorgeous poems, which had some consistent and exciting flower imagery. A woman (who was white) behind me—who thought she was whispering to her neighbor—said ‘How can black people write about flowers at a time like this?’ I thought it was so absurd in a way that didn’t make me angry but made me curious. What is the black poet to be writing about ‘at a time like this’ if not to dissect the attractiveness of a flower—that which can arrive beautiful and then slowly die right before our eyes? I thought flowers were the exact thing to write about at a time like this, so I began this series of poems, all with the same title. I thought it was much better to grasp a handful of different flowers, put them in a glass box, and see how many angles I could find in our shared eventual demise.