‘Everyday Ecstasy’ poet Powell features newfound whimsy

  • Mary Clare Powell Contributed photo/Violet Walker

  • "Everyday Ecstasy" by Greenfield resident Mary Clare Powell. —Contributed photo/Violet Walker

Recorder Staff
Friday, March 23, 2018

Greenfield resident Mary Clare Powell has written five books of poetry, but she says there’s something different about her most recent work, “Everyday Ecstasy.”

The book of approximately 45 poems, Powell said, takes on a whimsical quality — a newfound quirkiness that stems from looking at ordinary experiences with new eyes.

“This one is about getting older and sort of coming to understand that life isn’t going to be as big and as full and as outward as it once was,” Powell said. “You think of aging as sort of a season of loss, and there is loss, but there’s also a shift of focus that can happen and I think that’s been powerful for me.”

Powell, who has lived in the Pioneer Valley for 30 years, is author and editor of “The Arts, Education and Social Change” and co-author of “This Way Daybreak Comes: Women’s Values and the Future,” based on interviews with women who create alternatives of all kinds in our culture. Her previous books of poetry include “Academic Scat,” which she created while a creative arts professor at Lesley University.

Powell said she’s been developing “Everyday Ecstasy” for the past three or four years as she’s felt inspired by everyday occurrences, like taking a walk or doing the laundry. The book’s title comes from the name of a poem Powell wrote about hanging clothes on a line.

“My poems always grow out of my experience,” Powell said. “I’m beginning to sort of uncover the possibilities in the small, the commonplace, the overlooked … I begin to think there’s life in everything I experience in the natural world.

“Wherever I go, there are possible poems, if I’m just paying attention,” she explained. “Its about noticing. It’s about seeing the life that’s all around us, and not just human life.”

Life is miraculous, but often overlooked, Powell said. She hopes to inspire that belief in those who hear her poems during an upcoming reading on Friday, March 30.

“I always hope that people will reflect on their own experiences and, from time to time, maybe remember a word or a phrase from a poem and it’ll cause them to open their minds or hearts,” she said.

The poetry reading will be held at the Greenfield Gallery, 231 Main St., starting at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and Powell’s readings will be coupled with music from her partner, Violet Walker, on the musical saw.

“We bring the saw in and out with some of the words and it’s very nice,” Powell explained. “(Most people have) never seen anything like it.”

Sometimes after readings, Powell noted, she also offers a brief writing experience for the audience, providing a prompt and inviting people to share with a small group.

Copies of “Everyday Ecstasy” — which Powell self-published under her own company, Extra Virgin Press — will be available at the reading for $12. She said she’s also planning several other readings, primarily at local senior centers, in the upcoming months.

Or, to purchase a copy of “Everyday Ecstasy,” email Powell at powell.maryclare@gmail.com.