The Argument of Time series by Teresa Carson


Teresa Carson has been working on a series of books, poetry of an experimental or inventive kind, one might say. Though there is more than one book, underneath the separate books is one unbroken thread, or one poem. This concept is explained by the author in the note below which is in book II.

The Argument of Time    {From the back matter of book II, Metamorphoses, Book XVI}

My formal education in ancient literature has amounted to little more than a sprinkling from Homer and Ovid, and my knowledge of ancient languages has been limited to phrases of response that I learned when the Roman Catholic mass was still said in Latin; nevertheless, in my fourth decade I found Ovid’s Metamorphoses and suddenly entered a genre of literature that I felt more at home in than in any other. Ovid led me to Homer led me to Vigil led me to Dante … in short, I discovered the epic form.

This deep connection to epic poetry makes sense because I am, above all else, interested in the why and how of the stories that we humans tell. Stories about ourselves, about others, about the world and the universe, about the past and the future. Stories. For more than two decades I nursed an unexpressed wish to write a modern epic.

Ostia Antica transformed that wish into reality. After having an intense experience of Time and Memory during my first visit there in 2014, the structure of a series, now titled The Argument of Time, appeared, all at once, as if in a vision. From the beginning the series was conceived as a five-book epic poem. In addition, I saw each of the five books as an epyllion, a short epic poem. Therefore, the pieces in each book connect into one poem; the five books connect into one large poem.

Now, the definition for epic in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics goes like this:

An epic is a long narrative poem of heroic action: “narrative,” in that it tells a story; “poem,” in that it is written in verse rather than prose; “heroic action,” while reinterpreted by each major epic poet, in that, broadly defined, it recounts deeds of great valor that bear consequence for the community to which the hero belongs. An epic plot is typically focused on the deeds of a single person or hero, mortal though exceptionally strong, intelligent, or brave, and often assisted or opposed by gods. Epic is set in a remote or legendary past represented as an age of greater heroism than the present. Its style is elevated and rhetorical.

On the surface The Argument of Time falls short of these requirements; while it definitely tells a story and definitely is written in verse, it does not seem to contain “heroic action,” an “epic plot,” or an “elevated and rhetorical” style; worst of all, it takes place in historical time. But what if we question the traditional definition of an epic? What if we expand that definition to allow for the actions of the community in a specific place over a period of time? What if their deeds are the stories of everyday life? What if Time itself became the hero of an epic? What if the narrative were written in a common style? All of which is exactly what I chose to do; under this new definition, The Argument of Time is an epic.

 

The first book in the series, Visit to an Extinct City is available. Even though this post may exceed a length some readers appreciate, we wanted to give a certain impression of these books and the work involved by more than just a cover and a blurb.

And those words of thine thus made to serve for the time, did the outward ear give
notice to unto the intelligent soul, whose inward ear lay listening to thy eternal Word.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, XI-VI

Visit to an Extinct City, poems by Teresa CarsonVisit to an Extinct City, the first of five book-length poems in The Argument of Time series, was triggered by my first visit to Ostia Antica in 2014. My reason for going there was simple: I was determined not to leave Italy without visiting an extinct city, and I did not have enough time to go to Pompeii or Herculaneum. Yet from the moment I stepped through the Porta Romana, the place had an inexplicable hold on me. My daylong exploration of the ruins turned into a profound experience: everything in the landscape spoke to me. By the end of that visit, Ostia was pulsing through my veins. Back in New Jersey, I wrote down the title of all five books in The Argument of Time without any idea what the actual content of each book would be, except that it would be connected to Ostia in some way and that the poems would have to exist in English and Italian. Good fortune brought Steve Baker into my life; he approached the translation of Visit to an Extinct City with the same care and attention with which I approached the original.

While there are many excellent sources for detailed information about the history of Ostia, here is a brief introduction. Unlike the resort towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ostia was a commercial center that served as the main port for goods coming into Rome from everywhere in the Roman Empire. By the second century a.d. its landscape was a densely packed mix of warehouses, apartment houses, temples (for various religions), baths, toilets, bakeries, and takeout food shops. Its decline from prosperous to extinct happened over a few hundred years; by the eleventh century its marble was being scavenged to build cathedrals throughout Italy. For centuries after Ostia’s abandonment, treasure hunters scoured its ruins for desirable artifacts that ended up in private collections, museums, and even the Vatican. Fortunately for us there is still much to find in Ostia. Today, systematic excavations undertaken by scientists continue to reveal its complexities and marvels.

—Teresa Carson

Each book is presented in both Italian and English. View previews of the books here.

And book II here.

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New events with L.R. Berger


Zoom only

Poets L. R. Berger, Peter Murphy, and Tom Schmidt will read from their original work with Q&A to follow. L.R. Berger will be reading from Indebted to Wind, Peter Murphy from Underwater, and Tom Schmidt from Like, A Metaphor. Preregister at kellogghubbard.org/poemcity.

 

L.R. Berger was Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome.  Her collection of poems, The Unexpected Aviary, received the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry.   Peter Murphy is the previous Dean of Academic Affairs at Goddard College and author of Maps of Three Contintents  Tom Schmidt has published two poetry chapbooks, Enough to Drink or Drown (Kelsay Books, 2020) and Like, A Metaphor (Encircle Publications, June 2021). He received a PhD from Cambridge University and taught humanities for thirty years in California, Oregon, and Vermont. Her new book is Indebted to Wind.

Indebted to Wind new collection by award winning LR Berger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLORING THE SACRED & THE ORDINARY WITH FOUR WOMEN POETS
Fridays May 20, 27; June 3 and 10 from 1-3:30
Instructor: Catherine O’Brian
Guest Poet: L.R. Berger

Cost: $200

In this four-week class we will explore the “Sacred and the Ordinary” with four women poets: Gwendolyn Brooks, Jane Kenyon, Lucille Clifton and Eavan Boland. I will facilitate discussions, offer writing prompts and talk about revision strategies. Guest poet and author, L.R. Berger will join us on June 3 to share a few of her own poems, her writing process and life-long appreciation for the work of Gwendolyn Brooks.

This workshop is open to everyone. You don’t need to know how to write poems and you don’t need to know anything about the poets under discussion. Please bring a journal and pen plus your curiosity and imagination. Using the Twiggs Gallery’s art exhibits and diverse poetic styles we will generate new poems in a supportive environment.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA EVENTBRITE

or call

 

Twiggs Gallery
603-975-0015

Review of Glyphs by Rick Lupert


Today I painted the walls with the Glyphs presented in Martina Reisz Newberry’s book, Glyphs. These meditations with an acute awareness that a lot of time has passed with occasional glimpses into a fantastical world “I have wondered if he could lift / heavy objects with his mind” comes along and you wonder if it is possible. Has it always been possible? Or how about in Residue when the tree trunks are let to “…believe they are tent poles keeping the stars above us where they belong.” Yes, trees…this is your job.

There are links between these poems and pages. Witness Martina falling off the world in Cartography 101 immediately after showing us Evelyn McHale’s famous 1947 leap off the Empire State building. Martina is building connections between herself and the world presented to her, between one poem, and the one that follows it.

There are a handful of erotic departures (and as they become more frequent we realize they may be more “returns” than “departures”) including tales of her virginity going away and a third person account of how Sadie has sex with the ocean. Sadie is present throughout Glyphs. She’s a recurring muse, an inspiration, a fantastical figure in her own right who goes about “her usual miracles.” Sadie is your companion throughout the book, her songs and miracles documented as an essential component of the overall story.

So much of the human experience of Martina’s poems resonates with me personally. The story in Starlings of the boy who had his BB gun taken away after shooting at birds reminds me of an indelibly present experience from my past when I witnessed something similar. I was in middle school and there was another boy with a BB Gun (maybe the same boy?) Undoubtedly this fueled my later vegetarianism (and anti-gun-ism for that matter) and forever idea that “apple cores will do the trick.”

Ekphrastic poems such as Street Scene and Bar Room Kiss expand on the visual of the paintings Martina is responding to (be sure to visit the links to see the originals) with expanded stories that talk to the scenes the artists portrayed an provide the perfect narration. Art was meant to talk to art and these ekphrastic glyphs are exactly the conversation they should be having.

Occasionally Martina surprises you with a word you never new existed. Cocklight for example which, makes perfect sense and will now be a permanent part of my diction.

Explanations come parenthetically. For example in Slouched Against a Stair Rail, the descriptive “purple” is followed by “(purple)” in an effort to make you fully understand she wasn’t kidding about the purpleness present in the sports coat. Sometimes the parenthesis are not closed (See Welcome Mat) blurring the conversation between poem and clarification. Walls are being torn down in these poems for you to be able co-exist in multiple worlds, and perhaps not fully knowing which one you are in.

In Welcome Mat, Martina tells us “nor have I felt sin / in any of it.” There are no regrets in these poems, only confident musings about what has been done, and what has been imagined.

Like Pavarotti whose presence is only protruding slightly into Los Angeles as he sings from the greater realm of wherever he truly exists, Martina presents her elevation over this world in a way that resonates with any artist’s filter…or to the common-person who hasn’t yet discovered their inner muse. These poems shine a light for them, and all of us, into realms we are glad to have revealed.

Reading these poems is like walking through a city’s neighborhoods…each neighborhood with its own characteristics. You’re on the same walk and you can see the connection as you turn a corner from one poem/page/street to the next, even though the one you’ve ended up on tells a different story, and smells and sounds different.

Borders begins with “I am here to astonish you”…most of the way through the book. I’m torn at what must be the launch into Glyph’s denouement, between the idea that the book could have begun with this poem, and the realization that, this far through, I have been astonished.

Rick Lupert, author of God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express

Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990.  He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Distinguished Service Award for service to the Los Angeles poetry community. Visit his site

New titles for Spring, and those from last Autumn


Titles due to come out this spring.

Stricken; Poems in the Time of Covid by Gail Gauldin Moore. Publication, April 12

Gail Gauldin Moore’s ‘Stricken’ is truly captivating. It’s also perfectly timed for a society shaken by all manner of plagues. “Eternity,” she writes, “is a spasm in a Petri dish.” Everywhere throughout this collection, Moore’s poetry is at once prescient and inquisitive, deftly embodying the beguilement of the day.  At it’s heart, however, it is a study of personal loss, a tribute to love’s inevitable wound. “For me, the best thing now / is coping with the worst thing.” There is potent medicine here. Moore is at the height of her art.

Brendan Constantine, author of ‘Dementia, My Darling’

Gail Gauldin Moore’s new collection of poems, Stricken , takes us to the deepest places grief can touch inside our lives. The death of her son, Michael, opened a chasm of sadness and loneliness that one hesitates to look into, but look into that chasm Ms. Moore does and we look into it with her, one heartfelt poem at a time.

Gail Gauldin Moore pulls us into the embrace of poignancy, and the confusion of disbelief in the demon Mortality.

In the poem, For Michael: 1926-2020 , she says: “The unbearable cannot be borne./The deepest logic is a scream./I stand here beside myself, screaming.”

Moore’s poignancy, her search for comfort during a comfortless time, bids us look into our own fears of death, our own caves of loneliness.

In the title poem, Stricken , Moore delivers to us a feeling we know and now have permission to own: “What was this death they say you had/ My son! My son!/Call for the messenger./Call for the day when you first came.”

Stricken holds us up to ourselves. You’ll think about this book, feel it’s pain, recall the griefs and grievances of our own lives. You’ll go back to this book many times—physically and in your dreams—for a very long while.

—Martina Reisz Newberry, author of Blues for French Roast With Chicory

Stricken is literally breathtaking. Gail Gauldin Moore simultaneously shocks and caresses us. As always with this poet, her sensibility is highly refined but never “precious”–raw, even searing, while still intelligible and keenly thoughtful. Whether addressing the state of our culture during the pandemic or the loss of a grown son, these poems move with the obsessiveness, sorrow, quirkiness and unbounded passion for life that we get from the Argentine Tango. From the title poem: “Someone said you were dancing./ I wanted to be in the dance./ I wanted to bivouac with toy soldiers./ Or sleep forever—just to dream/ that life would come back.”

If I could have only five poetry books, this would be one.

—Marjorie Power, author of Sufficient Emptiness

 

Chorale; A Poetry Anthology by ten Maine writers. publication April 26th

Details on this titles will be forthcoming, but as the title suggests, this book is a chorus of voices of varied tenor and style.

Endorsed by Maine’s 5th poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum

These poets write about passages—their own and our country’s—looking deeply at the world as they find it. They investigate those profound memories that shape us throughout our lives and examine the natural world that can transform us every day. A community of writers, their poems at times become a call and response, voices joined together to create images and stories that evoke and complement each other. At a time in our world when darkness feels omnipresent, these poets remind us there is light in everything.

 

Glyphs, poetry by Martina Reisz Newberry   publication May 10th

Reading these poems is like walking through a city’s neighborhoods…each neighborhood with its own characteristics. You’re on the same walk and you can see the connection as you turn a corner from one poem/page/street to the next, even though the one you’ve ended up on tells a different story, and smells and sounds different.

Martina presents her elevation over this world in a way that resonates with any artist’s filter…or to the common-person who hasn’t yet discovered their inner muse. These poems shine a light for them, and all of us, into realms we are glad to have revealed.

—Rick Lupert, author of God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express

 

What pulses in us? asks poet Martina Reisz Newberry in her collection, Glyphs. With a sensibility reminiscent of Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska, Newberry employs a deceptively conversational tone to wield resonant insights about the spirit of nature, faith, aging and mortality, and love. She continually surprises with imagery, juxtaposition, and personification, as in “A Bargain of Earthly Delights”: Boats on dark water…seem to me like beings without a future.

—Terry Wolverton, author of Ruin Porn and founder of Writers at Work-a creative writing center

 

One delightful feature of this collection is that Martina Reisz Newberry can sing to the wind, the sea and the stars then turn around and write a tribute as strikingly specific and sharply observed as “Small Spring on the Property,” which tells the tale of “Hazel,” who resided in “a trailer in Bentonia, Mississippi/on an acre of land owned by a great-uncle…” where she hid “…from her ex/who threatened to kill her if he ever found her/for taking their big screen t.v. with her/when she left him for the last time,/while he showered.”

Whether shadowed by doubt or traced with a feminist sense of injustice, whether wistful or exultant or humorous, however various the subject matter, the poems of Glyphs have this in common: a sense of wonder at existence and Martina Reisz Newberry’s generous and forgiving passion for life.

—Suzanne Lummis; lives in Los Angeles where she is the director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, award-winning teacher with UCLA Extension Her most recent book is “24 Hours.”

 

 

Publication May 20th

In addition to her marvelous craft and her patent relish of language, Dawn Potter impresses by the sheer range of her enterprise. She can write about Paganini and Otis Redding, compose wrenching narratives (“Mr. Kowalski”) and witty conceits (“Love Poem from a Tiny Husband”), terse, almost haiku-like lyrics (“Dooryard”) and gritty realist observations (“Walking into Town”). But whatever her approach, the poet is marvelously and rightfully self-assured, and the reader is immeasurably schooled in what our world is about in all its facets. A brilliant collection!

—Sydney Lea, Vermont poet laureate (2011–15)

 

In Accidental Hymn, Dawn Potter masterfully demonstrates how opposites can be counterparts and how poetry can rise from that tension/partnership. Potter bends syntax into distinctive harmonies and bangs songs loose from the everyday world, as if it were a can she’s playing with the stick of her resolute gaze. This is a fascinating and engaging collection, full of immediate pleasures and the deferred joys that visit a reader long after reading such a book as this. Accidental Hymn is a serious delight, virtuosic and welcoming at once.

—BJ Ward, author of Jackleg Opera

 

I’ve long been familiar with Dawn Potter’s work, and I knew this collection would showcase her careful tending of the poetic craft, would express the singular view that is present in all of her books. What I was not expecting was this explosion of power—all of it contained, just enough, to keep the covers of the book in place. This is the poetry collection I have been waiting for. As Robert Frost said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” Accidental Hymn is alive with power and surprise and thrums with the energy of complex life in the time of the pandemic.

—Maudelle Driskell, author of Talismans     view a preview of Accidental Hymn

 

Metamorphosis, Book XVI by Teresa Carson, the second book in The Argument of Time series. June 9th publication.

There is information on Deerbrook Editions Website about this book

 

View a preview of this book here.

 

 

 

 

In case you haven’t noticed, three great titles from last Autumn

Indebted to Wind new collection by award winning LR BergerFirst out in August,  view a preview

Indebted to Wind, the new poetry collection by L. R. Berger had a successful launch at Main Street Bookends of Warner, N.H.

L. R. Berger’s work has been supported by The National Endowment for the Arts, The PEN New England Discovery Award and The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.  She was Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome, and has been granted residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Blue Mountain Center, Hedgebrook, Wellspring House and The Hermitage. Her collection of poems, The Unexpected Aviary, received the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry.

From the back cover

The wind in these eloquent, elegant, tensile poems is present as spirit, of course; as spirit it can manifest as the longing or fate of the body (it expires), as intellectual momentum (it inspires), as power for social justice (it aspires). In all these modes, L.R. Berger both controls the energy as form, and honors the charge of the moment—perception by brilliant perception, breath by mortal breath.

—Stephen Tapscott

In this beautiful new book, words are unusually alive and active in the poet’s capable hands. A whispered finale meaning finally, a riff on up, an exploration of the letter P: these are among the linguistic players that address both personal loss and political realities, which L. R. Berger explores with searing honesty, emotional depth, and lyric grace. No precious word is wasted here; you will read carefully and gratefully, and want to read again.

—Martha Collins

 

Poisons & Antidotes is a new collection by Andrea L. FryAlso in August, preview this book

Poisons & Antidotes, a new poetry collection by Andrea L. Fry. On October 7, there was a reading at the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge. Andrea read with Sarah White, author of Iridescent Guest, also from Deerbrook Editions.

In Poisons & Antidotes, life is inhabited by things that kill us and things that save us. But it’s never black and white, because poisons exist on a continuum, each increment representing some gradation of toxicity. Sometimes poison is clearly recognizable; other times it sits side by side with the innocuous and the borders are blurred. In this collection, poison is a metaphor for the degree of human connectedness to the world. The delirious voices in the poems are trapped in their own subjectivity, unable to see beyond their own strange stories. Just as poison becomes less virulent across the continuum, the poetic voices acquire a gradual awareness of themselves in relation to their world. By the end of the collection, it is as if human experience also exists on a kind of continuum. The expression of this vast range of experience—with all its subtleties, contradictions and ironies—is the antidote to human disconnectedness.

From the Back cover

Many of the poems in Andrea Fry’s new collection Poisons & Antidotes elicit a frisson as the poet, clear-eyed and with precise description, depicts plants, situations, people where the extremes of beauty and toxicity, allure and danger mingle and test us. As a practicing oncology nurse, she looks at life without sentimentality but with intense compassion, knowing that while there are no simple choices, it is the ambiguity of life that makes us fully human. Using her medical training as well as her extensive knowledge of the natural world, Fry with deft language creates pictures and tells stories that provoke our emotions and linger in the mind.

—Peggy L. Fox, President and Publisher Emerita, New Directions Publishing Corp.

Caution: this book may upend your expectations about what is fit subject matter for poetry. From mothballs to toxic machismo, Fry takes on the perils that lurk in the dark corners of the world and brings them into the light of frank consideration. These poems have their “arrows of truth” aimed straight at you. They will reshape your thoughts. They may deepen your insights. With larger doses, your imagination may experience an expansion. You may feel yourself craving more and more of the poetic artistry of Andrea L. Fry. You’ve been warned.

—Jeanne Marie Beaumont, author of Letters from Limbo, Burning of the Three Fires

Many of Andrea Fry’s poems have become my favorites, e.g., “The Renderer” and “The Secret.” I don’t know if these are the Poisons or the Antidotes of the collection. I just know they are poems—startling, fluent, and precise. They avoid overdosing us with sweetness, but they are deeply heartening. This poet seems to think (and I agree) that accurate observation is better for us than sweetness. So is humor. So is love.

—Sarah White, author of Iridescent Guest and Wars Don’t Happen Anymore

In September   preview this book

A new title of short fiction  by Jefferson Navicky, could be prose poetry—here is what Jefferson Navicky says about his book: “Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments in Short Prose is a collection that flickers between the surreal and the recognizable, between poetry and fiction, between this world and another.”

From the back cover

Among the many delights awaiting the lucky reader of this book, perhaps the greatest is the utter unpredictability of its language. In these pages, one encounters a diverse array of familiar figures, from pop singer Justin Beiber to legendary literary critic I.A. Richards. Like the elements of a dream, these personages are both themselves and not themselves, and as one reads one begins to wonder if one isn’t also becoming not-oneself, but someone wholly else, perhaps a character in the book’s pages. Antique Densities is a joyful counter-spell to the curse of disenchantment, a long, beautiful string of unforeseeable sentences. And as Gaston Bachelard asks in The Poetics of Space, a book that bears some secret kinship with this one, “if we render speech unforeseeable, is this not an apprenticeship to freedom?”

—Kristen Case, author of Principles of Economics and Little Arias

Antique Densities is a wild story-map of glowing imaginations, surreal hallucinations and timeless contemplations. There’s a dream-sequence to these winding narratives, one that reveals itself in layers of strange and beautiful meaning. In creating this collection, Jefferson Navicky has done that magical thing that so many writers and artists fear: he’s let his deepest literary influences wander rampant through the pasture of his consciousness, and the result is a stunning alchemy of authenticity and homage.

—Jaed Coffin, author of Roughhouse Friday

Antique Densities, short prose poems, “parables and other experiments,” are rarely more than a page in length, yet there is nothing miniature about them. First, there is the beauty of the writing: page after page of the coziest, most unsettling characters and situations thus far found, in Maine, in the 21st Century. Libraries open their doors on each page of this slim volume. You’ll see what I mean…These pages interlock, like ancient paving stone…all stories here will be found to serve each other, deeper and finer than I have known. Jefferson Navicky mentions writers he admires – Kafka, Borges, Cortazar, Yourcenar – “elders of influence.” They are no longer merely his models. With Antique Densities, Jefferson Navicky is their peer.

—Stephen Petroff, author of Philosophosphorescence

Maine Writers push out


Deerbrook Editions has published Maine writers for going on 20 years. This video gives a short hit on each author and shows book covers. Go to Deerbrook Editions for more info, or to order a title, and remember, shipping is free in the USA.

Enjoy!