Celebrating Six Seasons of Reading Local in Vermont: WINTER
Winter poetry from “It could be verse”
“It could be verse” began as a monthly poetry column first published by The Chronicle of Orleans County in Barton, VT in April 2007. Each column features a poem of season and place by a Vermont writer. The purpose of both the column and this website is: to put poetry where people can find it. Another goal is to help Vermonters to “Read Local” (as a natural continuation of the “Buy Local” and “Eat Local” campaigns). Because there are so many extraordinary writers in our communities, the column serves as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse poetic voices in this state, our literary terroir. This website features a selection of 18 of the 50 original columns (published in The Chronicle from 2007-2011). In January 2012, the monthly poetry column became a syndicated project issued from this site, offered gratis to all Vermont newspapers to publish at their discretion.
by Julia Alvarez
It’s snowing hard in the Green Mountains,
In the commotion of the fleecy air,
To the small town where friends might take me in
In the poem, ‘Storm Warning,’ poet Adrienne Rich writes that “…weather abroad /and weather in the heart alike come on regardless of prediction.” In her memoir Dakota, Kathleen Norris intersperses chapters of unfolding narrative with flash chapters, one- page passages of emotionally charged scenes, which she calls, “weather reports.”
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on January 20, 2010
by Bob Arnold
Here you are again
Hardly faraway from home
I’ve spent the better part
Stand with me
When my friend Paulus asks, “Who else is here?” – even though he happens to be sitting alone behind his house next to the mountains of western North Carolina– he induces himself to become aware of the more than human life around him. “Sycamore, Carolina Wren, Rhododendron, Redbird [--that's what they call Cardinals down south],” his extended attention might reply.
In The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, the author proposes: we are never alone. He calls this “the reciprocal nature of direct perception.” In more accessible language, he points out, “To touch the coarse skin of a tree is…to feel oneself touched by the tree. And to see the world, is also at the same time, to experience oneself as visible, to feel myself seen…we can experience things – can touch, hear, and taste things…because we are ourselves included in the sensible field…our sentient bodies are entirely continuous with the vast body of land.”
Now I’ll bet my left snowshoe Guilford, VT poet Bob Arnold was not attempting to make any statements about interrelated sentient attention when he wrote ‘Scout’, a poem in his book, Where Rivers Meet. And I’ll bet my remaining snowshoe that his verse was born from simply catching himself in mid-joy, at midnight, in mid-life, having just made another loop around something he loves, sort of like the terrestrial equivalent of a wedding ring.
Last week I learned the word, Soliphilia – a fancy term for the belief that the sanity of a landscape and the sanity of the human mind are entwined. If so, this makes proceeding “in a mile wide circle/ enjoying the measure of going nowhere” “wasting time” amid the snow, valley, and trees, as Dickenson would put it, Divinest Sense.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on March 3, 2010
by William Mundell
Did you see flame
Where now can we graze
Asters have moved to stars.
Shall we knock our hoes
Thoreau wrote in his journal in January, 1854, “While the milkmen in the outskirts are milking so many scores of cows before sunrise these winter mornings, it is our task to milk the winter itself… It took the cold bleakness of November to ripen a walnut, but the human brain is the kernel in which winter itself matures…Then there is the great harvest of the year, the harvest of thought.”
Poet William Mundell, raised in a farm in Newfane, VT might have agreed with Thoreau on this matter. In a poem from his collection, Ploughman’s Earth, first published in 1974, Mundell asks a series of questions about a farmer’s field work, which concludes when the snow takes hold. His questions begin with elegant exasperation, as if, used to continuous physical labor in the terrestrial world he is lost for what to tend next. By the poem’s third stanza, Mundell has begun to eye a new field to cultivate through the winter months, and though preposterous, for of course he can’t make hay in the Milky Way, the limitless space above invokes the work of the imagination. Perhaps he seeded, tended, weeded and harvested this poem through the days and months when nothing else would grow.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on December 16, 2009