Friday, August 10, 2012

Somerville Poet Tara Skurtu: At the cusp of med school to the depths of poetry.

Somerville Poet Tara Skurtu: At the cusp of med school to the depths of poetry.

By Doug Holder

  Somerville poet Tara Skurtu has followed an unusual path. She started out with ambitions to go to medical school, and indeed she got as far as an interview at UMASS Medical School, but didn’t get by the gates. As the old saying goes: “One door closes and another opens.” So Skurtu decided to follow her old flame: poetry. She was accepted in the very competitive MFA program at Boston University.

  Skurtu, who lives in the Union Square section of Somerville, met me at my usual window seat at the Bloc 11 Café. Tall, blond, and blue-eyed, she could pass as a fashion model. This 30 something poet counts as her mentor Lloyd Schwartz, another Somerville poet who won a Pulitzer Prize for his music criticism, and has taught at U MASS Boston for many years.

Skurtu said: “Lloyd has been the best editor I ever had. He has the rare ability of tweaking a poem without changing its essence.” Skurtu also admires Schwartz’s conversational style in his poetry, and she employs elements of this in her own work.

  Skurtu likes working either in a café work amidst the white noise, or in a perfectly quiet setting in her apartment. She reflected: " My poems start in memory or visual images or both. I eventually put them together in a skeletal structure. I do a lot of revision. A single poem can take me years to complete”.

  And in spite of being part of a generation that did not use typewriters; she still pounds out some of her work on one. “With the typewriter you are very aware of language. You think more of the moment—you feel the typing of the words. I also hand write my poems, but I finish up with my computer,” she said.

  Skurtu who has lived in Somerville, Mass. for 12 years has compiled a number of impressive publication credits. Her work has appeared in the Poetry Review (London), Hanging Loose, Salamander, and she will be a guest editor of the online literary journal Amethyst Arsenic  started by Somerville resident Samantha Milowsky.

  Skurtu expects that she will be spending the fall and winter immersed in writing projects for school.  And who knows?
 “You may see the young poet /scribbling away/ at the Bloc 11 Café/ on any given day.”  


The Art of Craft
(for Elizabeth Bishop)

The art of finding could be such disaster;
if memory restored be cumbersome,
to lose may be a better craft to master.

To conjure those things best forgotten faster:
the fear of death, love lost, an illness from
the past—this craft, it would be such disaster.

If dreams spy memories left in the past, or
startle you, fearful, paralyzed and numb,
their loss may be a better craft to master.

This morning I discovered how at last, or
perhaps it was just why or when you’d come?
Regardless, what I found felt like disaster.

You’ve come and gone. Now I long for vaster
loss—the mind be numb, speech dumb until some
memory loss becomes a craft that’s mastered.

You’ve long forgotten me yet I still clasp, or
scout for strands of your hair like beggar’s crumbs;
The art of finding could be such disaster
—if only loss were easier to master

---Tara Skurtu

…. Hiram Poetry Review

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