Tuesday, April 19, 2016

10 winning poems selected for Newton’s “Mother’s Day Poetry Walk,” one of the many events in the 2016 Newton Festival of the Arts

10 winning poems selected for Newton’s “Mother’s Day Poetry Walk,” one of the many events in the 2016 Newton Festival of the Arts

The winning poems were chosen from almost 100 poems submitted to an open competition juried by award-winning local poets: Grey Held, Doug Holder, and Clara Silverstein. Theese are not the typical “greeting card” poems. Rather they speak of the complexity, richness, diversity of motherhood.

Each selected poem will be chalked by local artists onto the grand staircase that fronts  Newton City Hall. The poems will become a temporary installation (May 8th through May 22nd) of mother-themed poetry as part of the 2016 Newton Festival of the Arts.

Three of the wining poems-- Lori Kagan’s “Other Children’s Mothers,” Wendy Mnookin’s “Walking to the 58th Street Library,” and Carol Hobbs’ “Her Days,” are written from the young child’s perspective. In her poem “Other Children’s Mothers, Kagan writes “Once in a while / other children’s mothers / lent me bits of their affection: / a smile that spread in my direction / as I sang / in the school concert / A reassuring pat / on the arm / if I was frightened by the sound / of a distant tornado siren…”

Three of the poems, Connemara Wadsworth’s “Washing My Mother’s Feet,” Margot Wizansky’s “In Assisted Living, My Mother Became Holy,” and Rachel Goldstein’s “Portrait of My Mother in Purses,” are touching portraits of mothers near the end of life. In her poem “Washing My Mother’s Feet,” Wadsworth writes “Next,  rub with fine pumice I tell her after / buying the stone for her hardened /  and fissured feet,  peasant feet she called / those size elevens she wore without /  thought, on which she ambled the souqs/  of Baghdad, Venetian calles, Manhattan’s /  grid, brick sidewalks of Harvard Square.”

In two of the poems, Pamela Gemme’s “My Mother, Speaking of Life,” and  Eric Hyett’s “in re: The Stars,” the mother’s presence enters into the home of the grown child. In “ in re: The Stars,” Hyett writes, “Next to my bed, a tin milagro my mother bought /  at the holy shrine at Chimayó. To heal my mind…”

Lani Scozzari’s poem, “Postpartum,” takes on the gritty subject matter of a new mother’s postpartum experience. And  Lee Dunne’s “For Mother” reads like a prayer: “I want her /  to go / slowly, / fall softly / as flicking silver / from the golden / rumps of apricots /  expand /  in sweetened space / as rising bread…”

Grey Held designed the project to allow viewers to experience poetry in a visual and kinesthetic way. “The Mother’s Day Poetry Walk brings poetry out into the community, honors motherhood, helps facilitate discussions of motherhood in all its richness and diversity,” says Held, “and allows people to experience poetry outside of the usual framework of books.”

These 10 poems will be viewable on the front steps (western facing) of Newton City Hall beginning on Mother’s Day (May  8). They will remain up through May 22nd.

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