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.


Poisons & Antidotes, a new collection of poetry by Andrea L. Fry

Poisons & Antidotes is a new collection by Andrea L. FryAbout Poisons & Antidotes

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.

Visit the author’s Website

Endorsed by Peggy L. Fox

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,  or 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.

Endorsed by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

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

Endorsed by Sarah White

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

Endorsed by Daniel P. Sulmasy

The 16th century physician-philosopher Paracelsus famously wrote, “All things are poison. The dose alone makes a thing not a poison.” Advanced practice oncology nurse Andrea Fry is the poetic voice of Paracelsus in the 21st century. Poisons & Antidotes is not just a work of medical humanities. Fry uses her clinical skills to diagnose and treat the human condition. Her dosing is measured, exacting, and precise. At times witty, at times disturbing, these poems span the countryside and the city, exploring innocence and shame, delight and pain, the sublime and the mundane. Fry is an important new voice in American poetry and Poisons & Antidotes is required reading for anyone serious about poetry.

—Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, PhD

    Acting Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

New poetry collection by L.R. Berger

Indebted to Wind new collection by award winning LR BergerEndorsements 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 through 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, and 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

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.

available now for early orders

Praise for The Unexpected Aviary

The quality of persistent attention in Berger’s work constitutes, I think, the heart of the poetic act. It matters that her attention is paid to such endangered objects as human love and the extra-human natural world; to the intricate connection between our conduct of love and that imperiled world.

—Mary Baine Campbell

Prose poem collection is frank but also dreamy

Daybook II by Toni OrtnerThe most recent title, published last month, is from Toni Ortner of Vermont. The second in a series of prose poem collections.

Toni Ortner was an English teacher at the University of Connecticut, Monroe College, and at Bronx Community College, as well as at various high schools in New York state.

She has had 26 books published by small presses. Her most recent is Daybook II by Deerbrook Editions. She lives in Vermont where on the fourth Sunday of each month from 5- 6 PM, she hosts the Write Action Radio Hour on l07.7 FM and interviews writers and has them read their work. She is Vice President of Write Action which is a nonprofit group that supports writers in New England through a variety of events. Her recent work can be seen at at Old Lady Blog along with reviews of her published books. She gives readings in bookstores and libraries in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Praise for Daybook II

Toni Ortner’s Daybook II is charred in the rubble of memory, and the surreal runs through it. Like Anna Kavan’s Ice she gives us a disturbed interior landscape that haunts our visions for the future with lamentation and dissonant song.

—Terry Hauptman, author of On Hearing ThunderThe Indwelling of Dissonance, and the Tremulous Seasons.

Visit Toni’s blog on vermontviews

View a preview of Daybook II

Some poems from A Rising & Other Poems by David Sloan

Available now

















View/listen to David Reading on YouTube for a virtual book launch 4/23.