Friday Miscellany.

The Marine Honor Guard attended Uncle Joe’s funeral — “Taps” is the most devastating music — you respond viscerally, instantly. Even as we mourned, though, I was glad that they came, that they honored him, that he was remembered.

Funerals, memorial services — they’re important. That kind of communal grief is comforting, the communal recognition that this person’s life mattered. Funerals dredge up old griefs as well, as the new loss comes to stand for and encompass all the losses that came before. But that’s not a bad thing — we carry our griefs just below the skin every day — it’s a relief to wear them freely, to cry and feel freely, once in a while.

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The Collected Poets Series reading last night with Kimberley Rogers and Ellen Doré Watson was tremendous and also cathartic — while their styles are different, they both write passionate, forceful poems. I hope to be able to share one of Kimberley’s poems before too long, so check back. She’s a voice not to be missed.

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I finally have my copy of Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play, and I’m happy to report that while many of the essays are reprints, they’re reprints from a variety of journals, and there are original essays also, so I’ve only previously read one essay, Tony Hoagland’s, out of the bunch. I’m especially excited to see Chris Forhan in the table of contents — his book of poems, The Actual Moon, the Actual Stars is a favorite of mine. It came out 5 whole years ago, practically a lifetime! I’ve been wondering what he’s up to — while a new book is my heart’s desire, I can settle for an essay on poetry. For now.

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Vincent is officially 2 — we did have a cake at my mother’s yesterday after the funeral, but it was a very small affair. This Sunday we’re going to have another, because you can never have too much chocolate cake, and though Vincent has very specific ideas about what’s good, he most wisely concurs. And he sings a sweet Vincent-y version of “Happy Birthday to You” sure to cure whatever ails you!

Ellen Doré Watson

I’m pressed for time, so here’s just a taste of Ellen’s newest book of poems, This Sharpening:

House, the Verb

The body houses what the heart won’t let loose

Loosening gives way to love

Oh birds happy in their feathers

Something sometimes happens

The heart’s lurch, stop-and-go traffic

A crash course in tighten

That the house of us was an assumption!

Later houses what we never imagine

The way you flew from me

Wounded of wing, dusting chicken

What the I housed in belief

Unhoused, bereft of body

Collected Poets Series

For those of you in the area, it’s that time again: the next reading in the Collected Poets Series is this Thursday, 7:30pm at the usual spot, Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls. This month, our featured readers are Ellen Doré Watson and Kimberley Rogers.

Ellen Doré Watson serves as Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College and poetry editor of The Massachusetts Review. She is the author of four books of poems, including We Live in Bodies and Ladder Music, winner of the New England/New York award from Alice James Books and, most recently, This Sharpening, from Tupelo Press. Among her honors are a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Grant, a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, two Pushcart nominations, and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. Watson has translated a dozen books from the Brazilian Portuguese, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems of Adélia Prado (Wesleyan University Press), and also co-translates contemporary Arabic language poetry with Saadi Simawe. She makes her home in Conway, MA.

Kimberley Rogers is a Northampton native and winner of the Ruth Olin Corbin Prize for Poetry (2007). Rogers has been published in several local and national magazines, including American Writing, and she won Pulp City Magazine’s Short Story Prize in 2000. Rogers’ poems center on woman’s issues — often exploring mother-daughter relationships, social issues, especially Native American concerns, and women-focused historical narratives.

I’m not familiar with Ms. Rogers’ work, but I particularly love Ellen’s latest book. If I get a chance this week, I’ll try to post a bit from it.

We expect another great turnout, so come early to get a seat — last time it was standing room only!