Category Archives: pioneer valley poetry

Poems by Laurie Duggan

August 7th

Warm light through tall windows,
tin rooves bleached
under a pale sky,
verandah shadows.
It is the day of the Census
in which we get
to make our lives up
as though there were more
than atmosphere in the account.
Coffee, a newspaper
(the death of Christopher Skase
or should that read ‘death’
the tycoon cunningly
disguised as a funerary urn).
I read back over
poems written from memory
casting years of a life
in terms of events
and discover I’ve got
the situations wrong,
I’m out, in fact
two to three years
in one poem, between
recollection and historical event.
Should I alter the detail,
unravel what
false memory has set up?
or would this allow
too much weight to poems
as documents. The sixties
and seventies for my students
are a blur of seemingly
related events and styles
– for me they’re periodised
by year (except for this
mistake I’ve made in my poem)
so should it matter?
(should it matter to see Elvis
as sequinned from birth,
a product of Vegas, not
Tupelo: RCA Elvis,
not Sun Elvis?). This
is where duration
overrides chronological time,
the space it takes
to drink a cup of coffee
versus what goes down on paper
in parallel, but opening out;
language exiting
through lexical doorways,
living its diverse lives,
enveloping, dissolving even
the maker of mistakes,
his view of rooftops
tricks of light
over an inner suburb.
The very unsettledness
distills a great calm
as though after crawling
through ducts, one had
stepped out into
limitless space.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++August 2001

Difference and repetition

The sheet darkens
with added ink, lightens
when the contrast eases.
Enlarged, a comma
becomes a bent lake
on a map, diminished
an impurity in the paper.
From a distance a world
of ruled margins and neat
habitations, closer
it’s a mess, repeated over
and over, nearly
but not quite a replica,
a simple pattern with variations,
pier of small black crosses
invisible, almost, against
a sea of hyphens.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++January 2002

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October 27: Laurie Duggan and Patrick Pritchett

for the final All Small Caps reading

on Monday, October 27, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

lauriedugganLaurie Duggan was born in in Melbourne, Australia in 1949 and was involved in the poetry worlds of that city and Sydney through the 1970s and 80s. In 2006 he moved to England an currently lives in Faversham, Kent.  He has published some twenty books of poems together with Ghost Nation, a work about imagined space.  His most recent volumes are The Epigrams of Martial (Pressed Wafer, Boston, 2010); The Pursuit of Happiness (Bristol, Shearsman, 2012); The Collected Blue Hills (Sydney, Puncher & Wattman, 2012) and Allotments (Shearsman, 2014).

Pritchett (2)Patrick Pritchett
 is Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Amherst College. His academic work focuses on poetry, disaster, and the messianic. Among his many publications are essays on Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Ronald Johnson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Fanny Howe, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart. His books of poetry include Burn, Gnostic Frequencies, and Song X.

 

 

The End of an Era

Dear Friends of All Small Caps:

It is tremendously bittersweet to announce that All Small Caps is coming to an end. October 27th, 2014, will be our last reading. Please come out and support the reading series for our final two readings.

An eight-year run of readings for All Small Caps sprang from an impromptu conversation in a bar room. We’ve had many amazing readings that have given folks an opportunity to hear some of the best contemporary poets in their neighborhood pub. Poets from just down the street, Brooklyn, California, Milwaukee, England, and everywhere in between. We’ve provided a venue for folks to try out their new work and develop their own voice in an environment that was receptive and welcoming.

Thanks to all who contributed to making that environment. It all happened because we put in the time and effort to make it happen. We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve added to the community, both of Wendell and of poetry. Thanks to everyone for supporting the series. Please help us end our run on a high note and come to the next two readings. We hope to see you there.

— Jess, Charlie, Stephen, and Paul

Poems by Stephen Philbrick

As Though A Grocer Sat In His House

They need me, every hour they need me and I cried,
not because they need so much,
but because they need so bad.

They need me to ‘facilitate’
to call their crazy friend
not to say a word, but listen to a world.
Then there’s the mother cherishing her child
to the point of cleaning and folding and tucking his soul away
in a cedar chest,
to keep it safe from moths —
for never and a day.

How much they need.
How little it is, what they ask me to do.

It is as though a grocer sat in the morning light,
sat before he went to open up the store,
sat in his house and cried
because people are so hungry and all he has is food.

Just The Dark Of An April Moon

Passion riddles the familiar landscape.
Like some neighbor’s house turned inside-out
by police and ambulance light, by sirens and stretchers and questions.

Say you find a rusted-out Ford by an abandoned stone wall in the woods:
isn’t the body shot through with .22’s?
weren’t they pointed by some forgotten boys ?
and could the boys ever forget the thrill of the windshield
crazing and webbing and finally caving in
beneath stones cast for the sheer destruction of it?

Or: listen to the owls these nights;
what do the owls know?
The death-in-life and life-in-death that is their hunting?
Or the death-in-life and life-in-death that is their mating?

Look at the big hole in the woods
where once there was a small hole
where hornets passed in and out of their underground nest.
Then the skunk — who else?
impenetrable fur and fell claws and impossible smell: awefull! —
the skunk dug up the nest and ate the larvae.

Something is running through the swamps these nights,
tongue out, tail flat out, claws out,
testicles descended, territory defended,
eggs flecked and flocked and ready to drop;
hot on the scent, smelling like heat;
too deep in the dark to hear; too deep in the swamp to see;
but too deep in the blood to ignore.

The ridge resounds with it, through the feet;
the heart hears what the ears can’t and waits and hopes;
and all the quiet earth pricks up and heaves itself open.

Now, that’s passion.
It’s what we inherit;
it’s how we inherit.

And that’s just the dark of an April moon;
that’s just the spurt of spring,
the holy ghost of Easter passing through the husk of tomorrow
and the dry leaves that last year shed.

Poems by Patrick Pritchett

Beginning with a Line from Peter Riley

This is where love fastens us to the earth, undoing us as dust, long fade to anonymity, of a thousand evenings in which the one thing that matters most is not the end of day, but the abolition of beginnings.

Because living is impure light, stolen from a darkness that commands it, & what is lost haunts us with the promise of another, truer disaster.

The mute globe of breath in the heart trembles – lallation & echo, subsidence on a gray shore.

Out of the pulp of matter sublimity, then senescence. Late fall to planet, the grinding hour of prayer. Ardent or faltering, a star wipes a face in a grainy photo. The yellow ivories, the smoothed woods. Listless.

The Death of the Author

for Jane Gallop

If I were a writer, and dead, then how bright the sky at evening when evening is a word for making other words.

And how I would love to be dispersed across the sky, ashes thrown to the wind and someone’s beautiful eyes reducing me to a few precious details. Travelling outside whatever my life had been, joining me to a future that cannot know me, except as a toy that resurrects the destroyed.

If I were a writer and no longer a part of my story, but given over unseen to the birds at evensong, returning to the same life, the very same and yet different. Speaking warmly with strangers at the gate, skirting the paths through the park, spying on the couples who are kissing in their sleep, a part of the larger night where everything has already happened without me.

If I were a writer, and dead, I would enter the room of sudden desires. The one with salty foods and glasses of whiskey. The book there where I had left it. Your eyes, your voice.

Whatever pierces me. Speeches me. Even now, dead, writes me.

The history of helplessness is the wish for lyric.

Song X

If the soul could —
If the soul were butter
or if the soul were dirt
it could see you better

and then where on earth
to take the spoon from sorrow?

If the drift were bigger
the weight of it, hefted —
If the slow ink of its death
dropped clear the way

then bells, after.

If the ride to the station
in winter, at night —
if the night blazed carillons
then how we’d want to

want to be bitter —
Glory of stars saying under stars.
The saying of stars is litter.

Then the soul dives —
Then the soul all under
its coat of shivers shivers —

September 29: Stephen Philbrick and Patrick Pritchett

on Monday, September 29, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5


Lumberjack_1Steven Philbrick was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. He moved to the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts 35 years ago, where he still lives with his wife, the potter Constance Talbot. He was a shepherd for many years and nineteen years ago became the minister of the West Cummington Congregational Church. His books include No Goodbye (Smith), Up to the Elbow and THREE (Adastra Press), and a prose book,The Backyard Lumberjack (Storey Publishing), co-written with his son, Frank. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, New Letters, Mudfish, Key West Review, and We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For, among others. He writes, “I have been fortunate enough to make my living in the Hilltowns for many years. This means that I have received more than I have given. And I have given all that I have, although sometimes that was not too damn much of very good. The city boy has become a country preacher, because life in the Hilltowns is slow enough, steep enough, sharp enough and soft enough that I can apprehend some of it (I don’t worry about comprehending, just yet). All of these poems are love poems, if you know how to listen.”

Pritchett (2)Patrick Pritchett
 is Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Amherst College. His academic work focuses on poetry, disaster, and the messianic. Among his many publications are essays on Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Ronald Johnson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Fanny Howe, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart. His books of poetry include Burn, Gnostic Frequencies, and Song X.

August 25: Rebecca Hart Olander and Gerald Yelle

on Monday, August 25, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

rebeccaRebecca Hart Olander teaches writing at Westfield State University and is working toward her MFA in Poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has recently been published in Common Ground Review, Naugatuck River Review, Connecticut River Review, Silkworm, and Lemon Hound. Earlier this year, Rebecca’s manuscript received “Honorable Mention” from Hedgerow Books, and she won the Women’s National Book Association poetry contest judged by Molly Peacock. She serves on the board of Perugia Press and on the advisory board of the “30 Poems in November!” literacy project for Center for New Americans.
Gerald YelleGerald Yelle teaches high school English in Greenfield, MA. His poems have appeared in numerous journals in print and online. The Holyoke Diaries is his first published collection. A second collection, Mark My Word and the New World Order is scheduled to be published later in 2014 by The Pedestrian Press. He is a member of the Florence (MA) Poets Society. Notes, comments and links can be found at geraldyelle.blogspot.com.