Straw Dog Writers Guild releases poetry compilation

  • “Compass Roads” Contributed image

For the Recorder
Published: 4/11/2018 4:04:45 PM

It’s no secret that the Pioneer Valley is a haven for writers, many of whom moved here because they thought it would be a good place to live. And in “Compass Roads,” dozens of writers take to verse to describe what makes the area special to them.

The poetry anthology is the work of the Straw Dog Writers Guild, the nonprofit group that holds a monthly open mic night in Northampton and represents both established and new writers. Not all the contributors to the collection, published by Levellers Press of Amherst, are members of the group.

Jane Yolen, the prolific poet and children’s book author from Hatfield, served as editor of the project, something she said she enjoyed both because of her love of her adopted home and for the chance to read the work of so many local writers.

“In the course of choosing poems for this volume, I looked for pieces not just to showcase the Valley’s different towns,” she writes in an introduction, “but to parade different seasons, different attitudes, different strengths — in other words, showing off both the glories and the warts.”

The poems — short, long, and mostly in between — offer a range of voices, from the lyrical to the droll. The pastoral appeal of the region is a consistent theme, as Christine Ann Pratt, for instance, explores in “Quabbin, February.”

“Across the reservoir coyotes romp / on ice and snow by the shore, / their mating game the only movement / on this vast, white plain — so solid / and unyielding but for those two / black dots spinning.”

Meanwhile, F.D. Kindness, in “On Location in Shelburne Falls,” charts the exciting chaos and civic pride of a small town suddenly being used to stage a Hollywood film: “When your town becomes a movie set, you meet neighbors / you haven’t seen in years, with cameras and cell phones, / primed to photograph lead star Josh Brolin.”

Some of the participating writers will read from the collection at the Easthampton Bookfest on Saturday, April 14, at 4 p.m. at White Square Books, 86 Cottage St.


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