Bedlam Reading Series
Friday, March 20th, 2020
Bedlam Book Cafe in Crompton Place
138 Green St.
Free and open to the public
Join us as local poets Carol Hobbs and Pamela Gemme read their latest work. Carol's first book of poems New-found-land was the winner of a New England PEN Discovery Prize. Her work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies in Canada and America. Pamela is a poet, artist, activist, and child protection social worker whose work has also appeared in several journals. Both poets live and work in Central Massachusetts.
Wednesday, March 16
6pm - 8pm
Princeton Public Library
2 Town Hall Dr., Princeton, MA
Free and open to the public
Poet Susan Rooney O'Brien hosts this reading showcasing the strong work of women in poetry. Each of the twenty readers has about three minutes to stun us all with incredible images.
The poems in Carol Hobbs’ debut collection, New-found-land, detail a life by centering on precisely described moments that turn toward mystery. They unfold slowly like flowers drawing us into their centers. What seems simple is not: A child wants to believe what she’s told/not what she glimpses in the two-step swing of days, the poet writes. Rooted in place, these poems move from precise description—Sweet myrrh/and spruce needles tangled like worms/in the knot of sweaters...—to the enigma of those glimpses. Can poems be both gentle and unnerving? Address the quotidian while evoking the mythical? Yes, if the poet is Carol Hobbs.
- Kathleen Aguero is the author of several collections of poetry including After That, Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth, Daughter Of, The Real Weather, and Thirsty Day. She teaches in the low-residency M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College and in Changing Lives through Literature, an alternative sentencing program. She also teaches Creative Writing for Caregivers Workshops in community and institutional settings.
Themes of memory and exile, of the drifts and shifts of time, are strikingly realized in New-found-land. Ferocity and beauty, the numinous and the visceral – Carol Hobbs’ poems capture the interpenetration of these, both in the beloved Newfoundland of her childhood and youth and in Massachusetts where she has spent most of her adult life. Hobbs has a distinctive lyrical voice; this book makes a significant contribution to the corpus of Newfoundland poetry.
- Mary Dalton is poet-laureate of St. John's, Newfoundland. She has published numerous poetry collections including The Time of Icicles, (1989), Merrybegot (2003), and Hooking: A Book of Centos (2013). She is a professor of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland and founder and director of the SPARKS Literary Festival.
These poems are bursting with marvels harvested from a hardscrabble childhood in a remote land of icebergs, caribou, and gannets --- the little narwhal lingers… its eye oily in the dark cup, me mirrored in the eye-slick. The rich imagery and music will lure you and lull you into a mysterious, almost mythical world that resonates with deep wisdom earned by exile.
- Grey Held is author of three poetry collections, Two-Star General (2012), Spilled Milk ( 2013), and WorkaDay (2019). He founded and facilitates the PoetryRoundtable Workshops in Newton, Massachusetts.
Carol Hobbs has published widely in journals and anthologies in Canada, Ireland, and the United States.
Her first published collection, New-found-land, is now available through Main Street Rag Press.
Hall’s Bay is a china plate.
I skate far out to the breathing hole
where the men chop the ice away.
The echo of auger and axe
grapples the lip of hills.
They are building a lung for whales –
a pair of humpbacks, a narwhal
surfacing through the slush.
The little narwhal lingers,
mottled backed, steaming.
Its eye oily in the dark cup,
me mirrored in the eye-slick,
the horn spiraling into brittle air.
with bright mustard and black beads of pepper.
Considering also the beets, I stand in the pantry
while something famous happens outside.
My brother has climbed the ladder one story to the roof.
His running gait shakes the shelves and jars.
He leaps and flies, following the geese, south.
And in the brief silence,
I take out of the bottle
a silver rod of herring from its brine.
Everyone pities our mother,
commends her longsuffering and good sense
and speed in brushing him off –
Stand up! Walk!
Mothers speak in this biblical way.
And in the known world, I am
lost among steady goods, the labeled bottles –
the preserved moose, seal (oily and black as loam),
jams in amber and garnet bakeapple partidgeberry damson –
a white rabbit in its perfect cardigan of fur,
hanged by the wire snare.
My father says they are so pretty, caribou. And they are.
I smooth one's head around the muzzle, splay of white
above the mouth, back toward the soft cheek.
The caribou's eyes are open so I sing to it
hush-a-bye, don't you cry
I have a pretty voice. My father hums along,
and cuts away the skin from the severed hind quarter,
or rather cuts, then lifts the skin back as if he were helping
a woman remove her coat when she's come in from the cold.
They say when you become cold
enough your body pretends it has slipped
into your mother’s bed and you are
looking anew at the slatted wood ceiling.
The curtains wave like exotic finches,
bright yellow apparitions you do not fear.
They wing through the lilacs of the wallpaper.
You dream of the beginning of things
and the race to be four-legged and velvety,
and master of every season, the days
retreating beyond all saving
grace. Your mouth opens without
words, a hollow hinge. Your skin forgets
it is cold, and you are happy again.
I have not forgotten how
to read the old topography,
rocks that jutted in the breadth
between abundance and fear.
I dredge new silted beds
where the sea is torn, bone-seeded.
My past is poured out like water
on the slate of ice.
Even my youngest brother has gone
west to the mountains.
On this winter beach,
the ravenous moon
snail trawls its own skewed orbit,
I am part of the wave of Newfoundlanders who left the island in the mid-1990s after the cod moratorium and the collapsing economy that followed close on its heels. My older brother described me and my far-flung contemporaries as a lost generation. Perhaps. Leaving Newfoundland has certainly been marked by loss, and by a yearning to find myself back among my people in a place I’ve often felt exiled from. But exile is a tricky term as I did leave of my own choosing, but it felt less like a choice and more like a struggle to keep afloat.
I’d always written poetry and began publishing my work while still at university. I’ve continued to write and publish in Canada, Ireland, and the United States in journals, and anthologies including The Backyards of Heaven, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Riddle Fence, Crab Orchard Review, The Comstock Review, Ibbetson Street, Meat Paper, and Appalachian Heritage,among others. I’ve read my work in venues in Newfoundland, and on CBC Radio, and in New England including a featured reading at Emerson College in Boston in recognition of my book manuscript receiving a New England PEN Discovery Prize. Most recently, I presented work at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in May 2018 in company with the 3 Nations Anthology and poets from New England, Atlantic Canada, and from First Nations/Native American populations. Along with my work as a poet, I teach high school English and creative writing in Hudson, Massachusetts. I’ve become part of a wonderful group of poets in the Boston area, PoemWorks – the Workshop for Publishing Poets.
My book New-found-land spans my early experience in Newfoundland among my family and in the beauty and risk of that place. The poems also delve into emigration and life as both a native returning to the island, and as an outsider longing for some crumbling concept of home.