Our June Poetry Hoot
Wednesday, June 3rd 7 to 9pm. Doors open
What a great way to
close the 2014-15 season ~ with Pat Parnell and Ryan McLellan!
McLellan is a nationally touring poet, educator, editor, singer
/songwriter, and lover of punk rock music. He is the author of six
collections of poetry and the spoken-word album Last-Second Changes
to the Set List.
He is a three-time recipient of the Esther Buffler
Poetry-In-Schools Fellowship. He is a National Poetry Slam
semi-finalist, the 2012 Maine Grand Slam Champion, a two-time Maine
representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam, and a two-time
top-five finisher at the Arkansas Grand Slam.
He currently lives on Vinalhaven Island, off the coast
of Rockland, Maine, where he teaches English.
Parnell, of Stratham, is a poet, teacher, and journalist. For
years she edited the monthly “Poems from the Hoot” column for
“Spotlight” magazine – now edited by John Simon.
She is author of Snake Woman and Other
Explorations: Finding the Female in Divinity as well as
Talking with Birches, Poems of Family and Everyday Life.
Pat is Professor Emerita in the writing program of the
former Chester College of New England (now closed).
In her 91st year, Pat is a loyal Poetry Hoot attendee,
a strong encourager of new poets. She continues to offer
writers her wise editorial counsel. Plan to attend.
Ceremony & Celebration
September 2014 marked the 10-year
anniversary of Cafe Espresso's hosting our monthly Hoot. Better late
than never we want to honor Dave Hadwen and his team. If you
are planning to read during the open mic, please consider writing a
poem that in one way or another celebrates the Cafe Espresso
Kate Leigh Our New Portsmouth Poet Laureate
An primary element of the Passing of the Quill
tradition is this: after the outgoing Laureate passes the
quill, the new Laureate reads a poem. Here follows Kate's
poem. Blog-style, Tammi Truax's introduction appears after the
by Kate Leigh
We're fond of the common lilac over
As children we played beneath her branches with our toys.
We love the way she drapes her weight, forming scented bowers.
Now adults, we cut her blooms to grace our homes with poise.
Lilac, no wonder you are named flower of our state.
Weddings planned so brides can stand, cradling your bouquets.
It’s for all your varieties and exhaled breath we wait.
Your white and purple fragrant bunches, favorites of displays.
I hold with Celia Thaxter’s abundant love of flowers.
She basked in joy of tending, from seeds to fully risen.
Her gardens beamed with splendor, both single buds and showers,
Her bliss sustained by those beds, radiant as prisms.
On Smuttynose the Island’s stand of lilacs has gone wild.
For whom is shrub pruning more a pleasure than a duty?
These may be the oldest boughs New England has on file.
Whence springs the caring soul that cherishes their beauty?
Celia says, 'true lover of flowers is born, not made’
May pure ‘joy…..tranquil, innocent, uplifting, unfailing’
Visit our gardens, and while near lilacs’ corsaged glade,
Persuade us always to adore loveliness unveiling.
Obama recently remarked a barren world would be,
One which we will not allow, one void of poetry.
As Portsmouth keeps expanding, let us hope to revere
Lilacs grown by historic homes, and lyric poems sincere.
City Hall Ceremony, May 4, 2015:
Introduction by Tammi Truax
I met Kate Leigh, appropriately
enough, at a poetry reading, I don't know how many years ago. We
have been shepherding each other's work ever since. For example,
she is currently reading a hefty manuscript of mine that I can't
get anyone else to touch. And I know she will give me thoughtful
and intelligent feedback.
Writing, particularly poetry, appears to come easy to her. It's
in her blood, her DNA. She descends from a long line of proud
poets. Going back at least as far as her Grandfather, a poet who
chaired the English department at Phillips Exeter Academy when
she was a child.
She maintains a quiet and focused daily practice of reading and
writing the likes of which most artists only manage during the
first few weeks of January. Poetry, the beautiful expression of
carefully chosen words and thoughts, is simply part of who she
But in addition to being a poet, Kate is many other things. Most
notably; a mother, gardener, and healer. They too are strong
parts of who she is. You're likely to see these attributes
during her term. Like a shepherdess, she will lead us, softly
and gently, to a new place, a safe place, where we will feed.
I am certain that we, this little city that she loves flaws and
all, will benefit in ways now unimaginable. I am certain her
project, whatever it will be, will also have the mother's, the
gardener's, the healer's touch to it. It will come to us, I
expect, in soft and subtle ways, and we will find ourselves fed
in ways we didn't know we hungered.
It will be peaceful. It will be profound. It will be poetic.
I'd like to close by reading a brief poem written by Portsmouth
very first poet laureate, Esther Buffler, chosen because this
poem reminds me of Kate. Probably because both are/were
by Esther Buffler
like removing one's bra in relief.
Things that bind the spirit,
now no one's looking, nothing to fear;
Old established patterns
have no meaning;
Lifted, arising into an unfettered,
unbothered clear, I am free.
images from the Ceremony and Celebration
Learn about our
previous Laureates here.
~ ~ ~