Archive for the ‘Boston’ Tag

The Potomac Journal 2013   Leave a comment

The Orange Chorus

The Orange Chorus (Photo credit: FreeWine)

 

To read the poem, click here:

 

http://thepotomacjournal.com/issue13/Poetry/Peterson.html

 

My poem Greek Chorus was recently published in The Potomac Journal’s winter issue. It was great to see this poem in print for two reasons. First and foremost, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten something published. Life has been pretty hectic with the big move to Michigan and a new routine, so I haven’t been submitting as much as I have in years past. So it was a big help to jump start my motivation to get submitting and writing again to see this poem up at the Potomac.

 

This poem also reminds me a lot of what I left behind. I wrote it after a particularly bad episode during my illness last year kept me in the hospital for the weekend and prevented me from attending a Dire Literary Series event in Cambridge Mass. Joking with friends who attended, I said next time I’ll just have them escort me in an ambulance and I can read from a gurney before being wheeled back to the ambulance. A close friend of mine replied, “That seems doable, they have hospitals in Boston, right?” It was a line too good to NOT put into a poem!

 

Greek Chorus reminds me how far I’ve come personally, and how much I’ve been able to overcome in a short period of time. As difficult as the past few years have been, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s given me plenty of inspiration, as well as the strength and patience to be a better person than when I was diagnosed. I thank the Potomac Journal for picking it up when they did, and giving me the opportunity to reflect upon it.

 

Everyday Poets September 2012   1 comment

New interrobang tattoo

Interrobang tattooed on the arm of a fellow punctuation lover. (Photo credit: Emily Lewis)

Last week I talked about my recent move to Michigan. The reason for the move was because my new husband, the short story writer Gavin Broom, had gotten a job with a subsidiary of his company in that state. Gav and I have been friends for many years, both belonging to the same online writers’ workshop. A native of Scotland, he visited the US in August 2011, and we were able to meet face to face for the first time.

The attraction, which had been building gradually via email, text message, and Facebook, blossomed into a full-blown relationship.  Five transatlantic flights later, we decided our carbon footprint had grown wide enough, and he proposed in the baggage claim of Logan International Airport in Boston.

My poem in Everyday Poets on September 28th, Interrobang, deconstructs our relationship. It speaks of the questions that are brought up when one marries for the second, or even third, time. How two people used to having their own way come together as one, forging new ways of arranging a living room, folding clothes, raising children.

An interrobang is a unique form of punctuation, which is used for something that is both a question and an exclamation. I thought it summed up perfectly the feelings one has right before a move, a wedding. That feeling of excitement, with so many possibilities ahead of you that you feel the need to question every one. It’s the first form of punctuation that I’ve ever written a poem around, though I have challenged myself to write more.

To read the poem, follow this link, feel free to rate it and leave a comment!

http://www.everydaypoets.com/interrobang-by-helen-r-peterson/

New Digs   Leave a comment

Vector image of a Michigan state trunk line hi...

 

2012 has been a slow year for me as far as writing new material is concerned, partly because it’s been a very busy year personally. This year I remarried, and relocated in September from the East Coast to mid Michigan.

 

It’s apparent to me, now that we’re settled here, that I was spoiled living equidistant to Boston and New York City. It’s been difficult to find writers’ groups and readings close enough to our new home for us to visit regularly. We’ve found one, a writers’ workshop associated with Michigan State University, but it only meets every other week.  The off weeks I have of course my online workshops and social media, but I kinda miss the days I could jump in the car and find a reading any day of the week within 60 miles.

 

It isn’t all bad for the writer in Eaton Rapids. We’ve discovered the library, and have found that we aren’t the first published poets to live within the city limits. At the turn of the last century Elizabeth Rogers Kellogg was born. Having lived in Eaton County most of her adult life, her poetry gives some insight to me of the town we now call home. I can see in the buildings nearby what once was, can hear the clatter of horse and buggy on my way to Hamlin Square Coffee for my daily cup of chai, and that’s pretty cool.

 

I checked out Kellogg’s first book, simply entitled Poems. It was published in 1969 at the request of her mother. The poems were written in the 20’s and 30’s while Elizabeth was sick with tuberculosis. Many of the poems have a touch of the untrained poet about them, being simple in style and subject but having overly poetic words and turns of phrase strewn about. For example, the stanza

 

 

There is one memory of childhood days

 

Which starts the laughter still;

 

‘Tis when I helped my father feed

 

The hogs their corn and swill.

 

 

 

seems to try too hard, with rhyme and tis, to make pigs a subject worthy of poetry. There is self-consciousness there, either from her illness or from her upbringing in a different age from ours, that clouds the beauty of simple things. However, when her poems lean to more emotional subjects, like love and marriage, the stripped bare truth and pain of her topic shines through.  These are poems worth reading again and again, and make you want to learn more about this woman and her life in an earlier Eaton Rapids, living on the Rogers Centennial Farm, far from her parents in Goshen Indiana. For example, in the poem The Blue Bowl, she speaks of her husband’s great strength, unknowingly breaking a blue bowl on their wedding day. In the closing stanza she says:

 

I repaired things so well they were almost like new,

 

Even reveled in making them whole,

 

But I mended my heart with a costlier glue

 

Than I needed to mend the blue bowl.

 

 

 

With very little, she tells us much about their relationship and her role within it. Without complaint, without whining or pretty words, she reminds us that love has its cost. The way she swaps one thing for another, and the way her last line zings us with the truth, is very reminiscent of Dorothy Parker, without Parker’s self-effacing satire.

 

 

 

This week I’ve discovered that Rogers also wrote fiction. I look forward to reading her novels, and getting a chance to peek further into her world.

 

Dire Literary Series, June 1st 2012   2 comments

I was delighted this past month to be invited to feature at the Dire Literary Series, hosted by Timothy Gager. It’s one of my favorite readings to attend on the east coast. For good reason, the features are always well chosen, and the open mic never fails to surprise and delight. Add to it Gager’s monologues, and you’ve got the best night out in Cambridge.

Writer Tim Gager speaking at teh Out of the Blue Gallery in Cambridge Mass.

Tim Gager, warming up the audience

Tim opened the night by sharing his thoughts on the recent incident in Miami involving a man eating another man’s face. He was able to make a very gruesome story humorous and entertaining. The highlight of the open mic portion was series regular Shannon O’Connor reading from her collection of vignettes on riding the T. Shannon’s stories and her deadpan presentations of them are always engaging.

Shannon O’Connor reading during the open mic portion.

The difficult thing for me that night was to find something new to read, while still promoting my new book, Melons and Memory. I’d read a good chuck of it already at Dire during open mics last year, so the material was already familiar to the majority of the audience. I chose to begin with two new poems, The Fear of Big Words and Migratory Patterns. Big Words is especially tricky, as it begins with a word that’s 15 syllables long, and I’d never attempted it live before.

Explaining to the audience that I’m about to pronounce a really big word, for the first time.

Overall it was a fantastic night. As with Long Island, I will probably not have a chance to get back up to Cambridge before the big move to Michigan. It was a great way to end my New England career, surrounded by friends and fellow writers whose work I admire.

So long Out of the Blue Gallery!

Slow Trains   Leave a comment

Boston Red Sox Cap Logo

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.slowtrains.com/vol9issue4/petersonvol9issue4.html

Haiku is something that all poetry editors dread. Trust me. No, really.  As the managing editor for Chopper Poetry, the two things that automatically got put in the slush pile were the haiku and iambic pentameter. The  thing you want as an editor is the thing that is going to make people think, something they’ve never seen before. And the rules of haiku are so simple, everyone thinks they can write a good one. As my good friend and former co-editor Tom Weigel once said when we got a whole sheet covered with haiku, “that isn’t haiku. It’s a sentence.” Or, a Buzz Lightyear might say, “a sentence.. with style!”

All that being said, yes. I’ve published haiku. I write some haiku from time to time. And, on rare occasions, another editor publishes my haiku. Like the good folks at Slow Trains did this past spring, when they published “Sox-ku”.

Yes, haiku about baseball. Who knew such a thing was even possible? If you know me, you know about my undying love for the Boston Red Sox. NESN is a popular channel here in the Peterson residence. But one night, piling on the couch with the kids and the popcorn, prepping for a Big Papi night, we turned on the TV to discover that while the skies were blue down here in Connecticut, they were gray and pouring in Boston.

So it goes. I switched the TV to Cartoon Network, stole half the bowl of popcorn, and wrote this haiku instead. Anything can be a poem. Dieting, motherhood, and baseball. Sometimes all in the same afternoon. Who knew?

So tonight, on this sleepy Sunday, turn on the TV and write haiku, or sonnets, or even, if you’re ambitious, a sestina or two. Work those brains for tomorrow. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with something different enough to escape the slush.