POETRY MONDAY: June 6, 2016

We have news this month about a number of our featured poets – some of it very sad and some quite happy indeed.  The dates in parentheses after their names show when they appeared on these pages.  If you look them up in our archives, you will be able to see their photos, learn a bit more about them, and read or re-read a few of their poems.

First, the sad news. Two more are no longer with us.  Joan Peronto (October 2009), died of heart failure last month, still young at 85.  Michelle Gillett (November 2012), only 68 years old,  also died recently, and very suddenly, of cancer. These two poets and friends from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, who contributed strongly to our poetry lives here and elsewhere, will be greatly missed.

The happy news is almost overwhelming, also.  Perhaps you will remember Ross Gay (September 2008).  Some of you were even at a poetry reading here at my home, sponsored by CavanKerry Press, when he gave a wonderful reading with two other poets published by CavanKerry.   Well, now – and not surprisingly, considering how wonderful his newest book, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, is – he has gone on to win a slew of awards, the most recent of which is (and for this we practically need a drum-roll) The Kingsley Tufts, $100,000 for the best book by a mid-career poet.  This book has also already won the National Book Critics’ Circle award and is a finalist for the National Book Award.  These are all richly deserved.  I remember thinking – and even saying to him – “All your poems are praise poems.”  They are.  Read his other books too, but by all means, this one.

The other happy news is that many of our featured poets also have new books and awards.  We won’t list all the titles here, because there are so many, and also because you can easily Google them or find them on the poets’ web pages.

Chard de Niord (March 2010) not only has a new book but was named Poet Laureate of Vermont.  We were also happy to read his fine introduction to a book of  translations of the poetry of Polish poet Mieczyslaw Jastrun by Jeff Friedman (July 2008) and Dzvinia Orlowsky.

Richard Berlin (August 2008) has a fine new book to add to his growing list of titles dealing with his medical training and psychiatric  practice.  Some of us were privileged to attend the launch for this book at The BookStore in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he gave a sensitive, nuanced reading.

Mihaela Moscaliuc (October 2011) has come out with two new books, one translated from the Romanian poems of Carmelia Leonte and the other a collection of prose tributes to poet Gerald Stern.

Michael Waters has two new books, a Collected Poems published in the U.K. and a collection of his new poems, as gorgeous as ever and brought out recently by BOA Editions.

David Giannini (March 2011), who seems to have a new collection everywhere we look, has a lovely new, illustrated chapbook.

And finally, two of our featured poets, Alice Kociemba (September 2012) and Lisken Van Pelt Dus (April 2013) have just brought out their first full-length collections.  Lisken‘s new book will be launched at the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, MA. on Saturday, June llth, in case any of you will be in the Berkshires that weekend.

There now, everyone.  All of these ought to be enough to hold you for awhile.  I hope you’ll pick up some of these delicious goodies to add to your beach bags and backpacks for the summer.

 Have a happy one, despite the roar of our current political campaign.

                       Irene Willis

                       Poetry Editor





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