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Poets of Franklin County

Poets of Franklin County: Fred Pelka

Friday, December 5, 2014

In Easthampton poet Fred Pelka’s poem “Clots,” pricked fingertips toughen as they heal until they are “hard as elevator buttons,” allowing an unusual transcendence in the poem’s last lines. “You’re nothing without your scars,” the poem asserts. Pelka’s new full-length book of poems, “A Different Blaze,” was recently published by Hedgerow Books, an imprint of Levellers Press, a publishing house formed by the worker-owners of Collective Copies in Florence and Amherst. One inspiration Pelka cites for “Clots” is a photography exhibit by Alan Brightman called “Ordinary Moments” that he saw back in the early 1980s. Brightman’s photographs showed people with disabilities doing ordinary things, Pelka … 0

“Clots,” a poem by Fred Pelka

Friday, December 5, 2014

“Clots” You say stitches limit a person but dig deeper. You’ll see how they release as well as bind. Isn’t there a tranquility in that — a lovely still presence of wounds, salty as the moon ascending, drawing each tide behind it like a skirt? You’re nothing without your scars. There’s a whole mortal world to embrace where each pricked fingertip will grow … 0

Poets of Franklin County: ‘The Light We Leave’

Friday, November 21, 2014

What happens when images and words are given the chance to interact, not in a hierarchical way — say, an image illustrating a passage of text, or a caption explaining the content of a photograph — but in a way that invites conversation? Two Bement teachers, Amie Keddy of Wendell and Deborra Stewart-Pettingill … 0

What is it to exist?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

About a year ago, one of Greenfield poet and musician Daniel Hales’ friends asked if he’d be interested in setting poems from Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice books to music for a performance she was working on. Hales was … 0

Carol Purington’s dreaming room

Monday, December 30, 2013

Is poetry fiction or nonfiction? Many people assume that poetry is autobiographical, and that a poem’s narrator is the poet. Colrain poet Carol Purington, who poses this question in the foreword of her new collection of tanka, a … 1

The poet’s poet

Thursday, August 8, 2013

OK, quick, name three important contemporary Romanian poets. Or two Spanish ones. Can you name one Italian? “It’s generally said that nothing sells worse than poetry in this country than poetry in translation,” poet and publisher Ed Foster, who runs Talisman House, Publishers in Greenfield, says with a … 0

Poets of Franklin County: ‘Clear mental space’

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poet Jody Cothey, who writes under the name Pamela Stewart, has run Tregelly’s Fiber Farm in Hawley with her husband Ed Cothey for 18 years. The farm, which Stewart describes as “winding down now,” at one time produced beautiful natural-dyed wools and yarns. “I used to have six … 0

Poets of Franklin County: Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno

Saturday, July 20, 2013

One night, as he sat on the verandah in the hill station of Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas, Montague poet Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno overheard someone call out in a language he didn’t know. Perhaps it was Hindi or Kashmiri or any one of the several hundred languages … 0

Spinning riffs

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Take a sample of 10 people who are 6 foot, 3 inches, line them up and then see how different 6 foot, 3 inches can look. That’s how poet and publisher Jess Mynes suggests thinking about the experience of reading British poet Richard Caddel’s series of poems titled … 0

Words Carry Weight

Thursday, August 29, 2013

People began to gather near sunset at 17 Miner St. on June 21, the night of the summer solstice. It was around 6:30 p.m. and folks helped themselves to chips and other snacks then wandered through the quiet backyard near the rotary in Greenfield, carrying bottles of soda … 0

Poets of Franklin County

Friday, June 7, 2013

It’s not an exaggeration to say that poet Kristin Bock grew up with a paint brush in her hand. She lives now in a beautiful Greek Revival home in Montague Center with her husband, painter Geoff Kostecki. Their home is filled with paintings, in both modern figurative and … 0

Act of creation

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When a fish falls from the sky, South Deerfield poet James Heflin knows what to do with it. Drawn to “what’s unusual,” Heflin said that when he began writing his poem “Sage” he had been thinking about an unusual phenomenon called “fish rain,” a scientifically observed event in … 0

Honoring mystery

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ashfield poet Abbot Cutler’s new book, “Say Dance, Say Night,” makes a sturdy 10th addition to the Slate Roof Press list of books by local poets. The collection gathers poems from 12 years of writing, ranging from a poem about Cutler’s experiences in Borneo in the Peace Corps … 0

Looking closer

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Conway poet Amy Dryansky came to my studio on April 16, the day after two bombs detonated in Boston, killing three people and wounding at least 140 others. I admitted that the event weighed heavily on my mind. Though we did not dwell long on the events in … 0

Poems that sing

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alice Parker takes a quieting breath and then, in a haunting voice, delivers the beginning line of an Emily Dickinson poem she has set to music. “I sing to use the waiting,” Parker begins. The melody is spare and slow and at moments uncomfortably vulnerable, not unlike a … 0