Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 13
 
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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Apples, Cans of Raid, Grandchildren: U.S. 1 Poets Launch a New Worksheets

Ellen Gilbert

“Start again!” exclaimed members of the poetry-loving audience after a raucous cell phone interrupted Ruth Ramsey’s reading of her poem “In Baja” at the Sunday book launch of the latest issue of U.S. 1 Worksheets.

Ms. Ramsey obliged, and listeners in Princeton Public Library’s Community Room were treated to a smoother rendering of a poem describing an outing during which “the fishy, oily vapor” of gray whales “drifted over” the author and her companions on a whale watch.

Contributors to the 55th volume of Worksheets turned out in numbers for the event, reading their own and others’ works, and thanking Managing Editor Nancy Scott and Poetry Editors Betty Lies, Linda Arntzenius, and Wanda S. Praisner for their work on this annual publication of the Princeton-based U.S. 1 Poets Cooperative. Louis F. Slee, author of “Andean Song,” thanked the group itself for “helping me make my poems better.” The U.S. 1 Poets meet weekly to discuss each others’ work (see http:/us1poets.com).

After reading her husband John Setliffe Bourne’s poem “The Professor Who Wanted Apples,” Adele Bourne complimented the poems she’d heard that afternoon by likening them to apples. “In a world full of orange groves, one does not stumble across large numbers of apples,” the poem observed.

April may be Poetry Month, but the pleasure of listening to poets and their poems was already in evidence on Sunday as the audience murmured appreciatively as each offering came to its sad, funny, quiet, noisy, complex, or simple end. Bruce W. Niedt’s reading of his poem, “Trivia,” was particularly apt: his voice rose in volume and degrees of indignation as he went from the poem’s opening lines, “Who was the first/How many/What is the word for,” to its outraged conclusion, “Why should I/How am I supposed to/ Who do you think you are?”

Robert Rosenbloom portrayed himself as “a one-man entomological Gestapo” wielding cans of Raid in “Point Blank,” and, in “Cecorpia,” Jane McKinley recalled how “The year we turned eight/we studied metamorphosis.”

The aging of both people and things was on a number of poets’ minds. Shanti S. Tangri extolled the pleasures of wearing old clothes (“They are me”) in “In Praise of the Old,” while Winifred Hughes conjured the mysterious sadness of being “a stranger/in this body” in “Meditations of an Old Woman,” and Jan C. Grossman contemplated “Falling Home” (“They say he’s lived too long”).

Not all of the pieces were new; David Worrell expressed pleasure that his poem “Out of Whack,” written in 1967, had finally been published. Nancy Scott apologized for writing about her granddaughter yet again, but what parent or grandparent could disagree with not wanting “to be anywhere else/except on the path that has brought us both here”?

The issue’s cover photo of “The Writing Desk, Northeast Harbor, Maine, 1987” by Thomas P. Bivin perfectly suits the theme of poets at work. A newcomer to poetry, Mr. Bivin said that he enjoyed the poems he heard Sunday afternoon, and that he was “very happy when Nancy Scott contacted me to do the cover.” Mr. Bivin’s work can be seen at http://pa.photoshelter.com.

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