The Poetry Porch



Dear Friends,

It might not be healthy to be found in one’s burrow quaking in fear, frozen in time, like the rabbit (by K. E. Duffin, after Audubon) on the title page, and whether the creative state is suffocated or nourished by hiding underground is open to debate. But a certain degree of distance and caution is necessary to comprehend the world around us these days. An assessment of stimuli requires rumination, engagement with their repercussions takes time, and the process of internalizing abrasive grains and smoothing them into pearls is often slow.

For this issue of The Poetry Porch, the organizing theme of “sheltering” emerged spontaneously and originated with the poems. In January, I had announced an open forum for the next issue, including an aside, or what I thought was an aside, about my obsession with abandoned buildings. Some of you responded to this as a suggestion and submitted poems on structures and loss. After the February blizzard, poems about storms came in, and storms were certainly on my mind. I contacted some of you to see if you had more poems on violent weather. As I was organizing acceptances, the Boston Marathon was hit by two homemade bombs. A city-wide manhunt followed during which the metropolitan area of Boston was shut down for a day, called “sheltering in place.” Some more poems came in reflecting on this incident.

The idea of sheltering seemed problematic to me at first. As a way to keep the many confined, the order “shelter in place” was imposed for a good reason, and all but the very few obeyed. But to take shelter or retreat to the shelter of my own design suited to my own purposes is a state of being I seek out with determination as often as I can. One needs shelter to find solitude to organize thoughts, make plans for the day, reconcile the contradictions between what has happened and what you want to happen. It is important to keep active in the wake of the deaths and injuries inflicted by the bombs near the finish line of the Marathon on April 15, but it is also important to keep in mind the need for shelter of heart and mind.

In this issue of The Poetry Porch, you will find poems that respond to the impact of violent storms, explosions in a busy city square, and the general noise of a jittery spring that made seeking shelter seem both futile and necessary. Sharon Portnoff relies on the element of surprise as a key ingredient for reflection; Ted Richer presents “figurations” of scenes that bring back the immediacy of the horror on that day of the Marathon; Dubrow evokes the beauty and chaos of storms and the process of inquiry; and Piercy shows how one storm’s destruction strengthens ties between communities.

In addition to all this winter-into-spring “weather,” the AWP conference arrived in Boston in March, bringing 13,000 poets and poetry enthusiasts to the shelter of the convention center. The literary landscape was, for the duration, transformed, and then the streets and sidewalks outside received another accumulation of snow.

The Poetry Porch is not always as dedicated to the region of Boston and New England as it is this year. In light of this, I will make a concerted effort to expand our area of expression to include a broader vision in the future.

Joyce Wilson
July 2013

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