Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Poet Laureate Wants to Inspire: Somerville's Nicole Terez Dutton

Nicole Terez Dutton


 Interview with


Somerville, MA, Feb. 11 – Somerville recently opened its arms to the city’s first new Poet Laureate. Poet Nicole Terez Dutton hopes to expand poetry through various venues and programs around the city.

“For me personally, it means I have the opportunity to bring attention and to bring my passion to more people,” Dutton told Somerville Neighborhood News (SNN).

With the help of the City and the Somerville Arts Council, Dutton will have support to network and build programs, but she must be the one to carry out projects.

“The first thing I want to do is to implement an apprenticeship program so that youth have the opportunity to have workshops and tutelage in poetry. My hope is to implement poetry into the schools and implement a mentorship program where I work with,” she said.

At a very young age, the Cleveland, Ohio native was impressed by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, whom first met while in grade school. Dutton recalls the experience to be “incredibly inspiring.”

“Mary Oliver is a fantastic poet who came to my school,” she remembered. “She’s from Ohio and she sat with us and read her poems and she talked about her life as a poet and that was incredibly inspiring. I remember as a young person how you can be really compelled by someone just taking the time to share themselves. I hope to bring other poets into schools to do that as well.”
Dutton began her teaching career in 2007 and currently works at the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. It’s one of the programs Dutton takes pride in, mostly in part of helping writers build their poems through their life experiences.

“It’s a treat and a privilege for me to work with people who are really invested in their own growth as writers, to have those types of intensive conversations with them and be able to watch them grow and learn and work so hard towards their own goals,” she said.

In 2011, Dutton won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her collection If One of Us Should Fall. She has recited her collection in open mic events, poetry slams, and poetry salon series. Her work has been well respected among those in poetry in creative writing.

“I have always felt that her poetry reflected a greater imagination, a greater capacity for the kind of use of language that to me makes for a great poem, the kind that cracks the reader into a new understanding of reality and teaches a reader how words can be used in new and breathtakingly innovative ways,” Tom Daley, poetry writing instructor at the Boston Center for Adult Education, told SNN during a “Round Robin” Poetry evening in Boston.

Dutton was the featured poet in January meeting of salon series, led by Daley. The event gives the opportunity for poets to recite and discuss thought-provoking poems. Her participation in the series sparked another goal for her to accomplish as Poet Laureate, and that is to expand the salon series in Somerville.

Somerville resident Jason Henry Simon-Bierenbaum was at the evening.
“I have read her books a few times; I’ve used it to teach. It was just really nice to see her reading from it, and her warm presence and just hearing some of her approaches,” he said.

 Dutton  is happy to be in a community that supports “growing young poets.”

“I want people to know that I am open and I am available,” she said. “I am an accessible person and I’m really interested in working with people to get things accomplished, so if people have ideas or if people want to invite me to come to the classroom or they have a notion for other poets to come to where they are to set up events, we can make that happen.”

Joanna Fuhrman’s "The Year of Yellow Butterflies"

Joanna Fuhrman

Joanna Fuhrman’s "The Year of Yellow Butterflies"  ( Hanging Loose Press-2015)

Review by Amanda Gnau

Joanna Fuhrman’s "The Year of Yellow Butterflies" takes profound elements of surrealism accompanied with a feeling of pure nostalgia, that allows for a mind boggling read. Each poem in this book is able to captivate the reader and create a desire in their mind to understand the purpose and motive. Each poem tells a part of her story growing up and figuring out what life is all about. At  first glance, the meanings and messages hidden in the work can seem uncanny and improbable to grasp. Fuhrman’s writing  displays a large command of vocabulary and unconventional ways of describing people, events, places, and objects around her. 

Fuhrman’s poetry in this book represents the impact of technology, gender stereotyping, and varying cultures on people. The subjects written about in this collection are aspects in life that typically have a strong effect on the mind and the body in various ways. The bouncing back and forth between the mind and body can be seen in Fuhrman’s style of writing, evidenced when she turns back and forth from reality to a sort of illusory world. In an untitled poem she writes, “So many people forgot their babies that year they needed to open baby libraries across the country…I liked to go to the baby library at my lunch break. Under the mounds of congealing drool, I could finally remember my own lost babyhood – how blurry it was, how loud.”  Her diligent choice of descriptions and images is able to lure the reader in to learn more about these issues. With the use of repetition, consonance, outstanding imagery, and personification, this book can be seen as one of Fuhrman’s best. Her poems such as “New Eyes for the New Year”, “The Letter”, and “Dear November”, are just a few examples in which Fuhrman uses these literary devices in order to create a read that is enjoyable in terms of  the sound it creates in the reader’s mind. Fuhrman’s choice of utilizing euphemisms for serious topics so that the reader feels more comfortable addressing important issues is a wise choice that has worked to her advantage.

The middle section of this collection, with the same title as the book, is what makes The Year of Yellow Butterflies exceed any set expectations the reader may have had before diving in. Fuhrman twists from childhood to the more serious times of her life where she tried to be a mature adult. Her poems reflect her years in existence when perhaps she was not able to grasp or cope with certain issues occurring right before her eyes, and was left to produce these pictures and zones that seem to be derived from some sort of make believe era in time and space. Her interpretation and ability to place conflicts in a light that is easier for the everyday person to understand is one of her strongest traits as a poet and author. One untitled piece in the collection compares the layers of the life that we are all living, to the layers of clothing a woman would wear, “holes revealing leggings,…little rips, glimpses of neon paisley tights…through the holes we could see little patches of perfect skin-colored knee-makeup…a gap where the real skin would peek out…another hole and in it a surgically implanted transparent window reveling veins…muscles, predictable bones”. This comparison, although unconventional, is considerably concrete and hits the reader abruptly with a feeling of grief and confusion.

It seems that this book is a complete success for Fuhrman and will grab the attention of a wide range of audiences. Her style of writing can be best described as fresh, innovative, suspenseful, and most importantly, thought provoking. The Year of Yellow Butterflies is recommended to those who wish to have their opinions and minds altered with while enjoying a systematic syntax of poetry.


Amanda Gnau is a sophomore English major at Endicott College. She has taken courses in advanced poetry, creative writing, and literary criticism and interpretation. Along with having a passion for new and contemporary works, Amanda also enjoys earlier poets such as John Milton and Alexander Pope. Her plan for the future is to continue writing poetry in her spare time and attend law school in the near future.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bouncy House by Michael Estabrook

Michael Estabrook

Bouncy House
by Michael Estabrook
Green Zone Editions
Copyright © Michael Estabrook
softbound, no price given

Review by Zvi A. Sesling
This poem in the middle of Michael Estabrook’s new poetry chapbook made me laugh when it should not have, which is a positive indicator of his poetry.

The Boston Strangler

I’m at my desk at work
finishing up a poem about frogs
(everything in my life ends up
in a poem it’s a sad yes
but what can you do?)
when one of my co-workers
sticks his shiny bald head
into my office and says
“hey I heard this great joke
on TV last night about a frog…”
of course I’m stunned by the coincidence
but can’t say anything about it
because nobody at work knows
I’m a poet when I’m not at work
like the Boston Strangler was a strangler
when he wasn’t driving a cab

I get how Estabrook thinks. Some of these poems are nostalgic and other humorous. Each is based on something in his experience. The poem “Flashback” for example begins with a young engineer explaining something that reminds Estabrook of his father in a kind, warm way, while in “Bigfoot” there are a dozen other names for the legendary character and Estabrook writes from Bigfoot’s perspective.

Then there is his poem “Peter Sellers” which speaks for itself:

When I woke this morning
I was surprised to see how much
my wife looked like Peter Sellers.
Maybe it was the way her nose
came out from her face
or the way her hair lay flat against
the side of her head or maybe
it was because the light
was so dim. I’m not certain
but I was worried because I know
peter Sellers is dead.

Okay I’m not supposed to laugh at this one either, but couldn’t help myself because
if anything, Michael Estabrook has a terrific sense of humor which he is able, unlike
many poets, to make leap off the page and slap you silly.

He has also written one about himself, his grandchildren, earlobes, feeding ducks, eating lobster rolls and a number of other subjects any reader can breeze through and enjoy – hopefully as much as I did.

Zvi A. Sesling is author of King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street, 2010), Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva, 2011) and the soon to be published Fire Tongue (Cervena Barva). He is Editor of Muddy River Poetry Review, Bagel Bards Anthologies #7 and #8.
He regularly reviews for the Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene