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Poet Laureate Page

Meet Old Saybrook's Poet Laureate:
Patricia Horn O’Brien

Pat2.jpgPat is a graduate of Columbia School of Social Work and has
worked and volunteered as a social worker throughout her
adult life. She’s a long time member of the Guilford Poets Guild
and in 2012 co-founded a local poetry group, CT River Poets
which now boasts of 15 accomplished and productive poets. 
She's helped in the establishment of Prison Hospice in three
CT prisons and facilitated poetry workshops at York C.I.  
Pat initiated the ongoing program, Paintings and Poetry, at
Florence Griswold Museum.  Pat and Judy Perry and Jerry Silbert
have produced and performed Getting It Together, the stories
of how painting, poetry and music helped  each of them survive
life-challenging events.

Pat's been published in several periodicals, including
CT River Review, Ct Review, Embers, Pulp Smith, Poet Lore,
Caduceus, Red Fox Review, Freshwater and Connecticut Review
and is the winner of several awards, including from Embers,
Connecticut River Review, The Almeda  Boulton Memorial
Contest and from the Acton Library in Old Saybrook CT where
she resides with her husband, John ... and not too far from
their three sons where they reside with their excellent partners.  Pat's first collection of poetry,
When Less Than Perfect is Enough was published by Antrim Books and is now in its 2nd printing.

Please Scroll down for Poetry Readings and Events!

October 4, 2017

1042017_73403_0.pngLyme Library reading on Tuesday, October 24 - 7:30pm  

The directions are:
From I-95 exit 70 (to Old Lyme), go west on Rt. 156 through Hamburg
to the well-lit complex of school/town hall/library on your left.  That's about 9 miles,
almost at the end of Rt 156 where it intersects with Rt. 82.

From the 2Wraslin Cats.  Head down Rt. 82 about 4 miles to Hadlyme (blinking light). 
Go left on Rt. 82 about 3 miles and go right on Rt. 156 about a mile. 
The library,town hall and school are on your right.

October 2, 2017

Note: Upcoming 2nd Thursday Poetry Series events presented by the Guilford Poets Guild and the Guilford Free Library include Alan Garry, the Connecticut Veteran Poet Laureate on November 8;
and a Holiday Roundtable on December 14 featuring Found Poems.

For more information, visit

The Guilford Free Library is located at 67 Park Street in Guilford. This program is free and open to all.

Please register by phone, in person, or online
(203) 453-8282,

September 28, 2017
Together We Rise will host a poetry read-in focusing on Poetry By and About Children from War Torn Countries,
on Sunday, October 8, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the community room at Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House,
374 Town Street, East Haddam.

This event, which is the ninth in the Together We Rise 2017 Poetry Series celebrating diversity, is free and open to
everyone. A selection of poetry written by children and young adults from war torn countries, as well as work by
other poets exploring this important topic, will be provided. Participants are invited to read from this selection, are
also encouraged to bring poems on this topic to read, or simply come to listen and enjoy.

Refreshments will be served. For more information contact Janine Broe at,
Edwina Trentham at 860-873-1472, or go to

September 28, 2017
9282017_50940_1.pngThe seventh poetry reading in the Clinton Art Gallery’s
2017 Sunday Series will take place on Sunday, October 15,
with a reading by poets Zelia Abbot, Victoria Murphy, and Karen Torop.

The reading, in the Laurel Ann Olcott Art Center at 20 East Main Street
in the heart of Clinton, will begin at 2:00 PM and will include an
open mic, which will give local poets the opportunity to share their work
and also to discover the many classes, which include a variety of
workshops in both art and writing, offered at the Clinton Art Gallery.

The reading is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be
served. For more information, contact Edwina Trentham

September 7, 2017

Introducing ModPo!  Free 10-week online poetry class. Begins 9/9!  Visit the website to enroll.  ModPo Link


"ModPo is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse,
from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry)
will learn how to read poems that are supposedly "difficult." We encounter and discuss the poems one at a time.
It's much easier than it seems! If you are curious about the ModPo team, watch the 20-minute introductory video
below.  You will get an overview of the course and will meet the brilliant TAs, who will be encountering the poems with
you all the way to the end."


"ModPo is for those who are new to poetry. And it is for those who have always loved poetry but not yet studied
modern and/or experimental poetry. And it is also for poets and critics and teachers who want to see what happens
when a community ofthousands come together to talk about poems such folks already know well.
In short: ModPo will work, in some way, for anyone and everyone!"

Kelly House.gif

September 6, 2017

Here are some classic and contemporary poems about school from

We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks
Calculations” by Brenda Cárdenas
American Syntax” by Ching-In Chen
Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes
1905” by Marilyn Nelson
Pledge” by Elizabeth Powell
Sentimental Education” by Mary Ruefle


John Ashbery, 1927–2017

To honor the life and work of former
Chancellor John Ashbery,
who died on September 3 at the age of ninety, has gathered
a collection of poems, essays, photos,
and historic recordings.

August 25, 2017
"On August 19th, Michele Van Epps,  Michele20.jpg  our dear and dedicated Director, died.  
On August 25 a memorial service was held to honor her life, her work, her love.  

At the service, Nathan Wise, Chairman of our Board of Directors, remembered Michele's gentle,
considerate and proficient work as our Director, and I had the opportunity to share this poem
I wrote for Michele.  I hope it serves as an expression of my thanks, my sorrow, and my love.

The poem drifted my way on the evening of August 23 at O.S.Town Beach.  And, thanks to
Michele's inspiration, I was able to spot it, catch it, and write it down."


August 24, 2017                                             Banned Books include Poetry!     

8242017_80514_0.pngPlaywright Oscar Wilde said,
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” 


Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll: Banned for alleged promotion of drug use and portrayal of anthropomorphized animals.  For more: Visit Banned Books Week...

        Be bold.   Rebel.   Read a banned book!

July 29, 2017

7292017_74116_0.pngPRESS RELEASE:  West Hartford, Connecticut
The Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate is excited to announce the release of the 1st book of poems written by its members, entitled:

Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis, Editors

The new anthology is the product of 24 poets from 17 towns in Connecticut who have been awarded the title of “Poet Laureate” in their communities. Connecticut has had a state poet laureate for many years, a position currently held by Mr. Rennie McQuilkin.

Recently, many communities have appointed poets laureate. These individuals serve as public ambassadors for poetry, bringing it into the public realm. The Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate sponsored this book, so that the general public can learn more about the poetry emissaries of Connecticut and can sample some of their poetry.

Today, poetry is a vital force in Connecticut. Poetry festivals, readings, workshops, school activities, and publications are flourishing as never before. This anthology presents the work of state and local poets laureate so that all can share in the transformative power of poetry.
Ginny Lowe Connors says, “The poets included here look at the world from different perspectives, and yet they share a common humanity. They remind us that in today’s world of instant sound bites, poetry is needed more than ever. It encourages us to slow down, observe, reflect, and engage more deeply with the world.”

Title: Laureates of Connecticut: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry
Edited by: Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis
ISBN: 978-0-998-2588-0-5, publisher: Grayson Books, Pages:120, Price: $20 or under. Available through Ingram,, or Grayson Books

July 28, 2017  
7292017_73528_8.jpg Here is a sample of memories written and shared by inmates at York C.I. who were participating as volunteers in our hospice program at the facility.  The women who have written here were volunteering to assure that their sister inmates dying in prison had the care and support they needed.  Each “I remember…”  is from a collection of entries each woman wrote in a poetry workshop I facilitated.  They each then chose one from their collection and we strung the entries together to make the group poem you see below.  
   Rereading them today, I’m reminded of our shared humanity and the universality of our experiences, prison bars or distant shores or disparate lives without standing!    POB   

             I REMEMBER GROUP POEM     

                                                          By York C.I. Hospice Volunteers      
*I remember my Mom making the best fudge.  

*I remember I couldn’t help laughing.  

*I remember when I put a gardener snake in a cookie tin
and went around the block to sell cookies.    

*I remember the first time I got behind the wheel …     
He promised to never take me driving again!          

*I remember thinking I could die on this job and    
I didn’t care because I loved the job so much.  

*I remember when $1.50 could get you 2 packs
of cigarettes, a can of Pepsi and a pack of gum …
all with a note from Mom.   

*I remember my mother’s hugs and kisses.   

*I remember the day I finally understood
the meaning of love.   

*I remember the soft breeze wisped by my cheeks   . . .    york2.jpg

*Note:  The York Correctional Institution is a high-security facility.  It serves as the state's only institution for female offenders.  It serves all superior courts in Connecticut and manages all pretrial and sentenced female offenders, whatever their security level.

The programming units at the facility have an extensive array of positive interventions for the population, including the 80-bed intensive, inpatient drug treatment unit, the Marilyn Baker House.   A Hospice program trains inmate volunteers to provide end of life care to fellow offenders.     

June 12, 2017  Old Saybrook Town Hall:  Poetry Bulletin Board [1st Floor]

OSHS Poems.jpgThanks for reading
this display of poetry
by the OS High School
Creative Writing Class.…
… the happy outcome of a
collaboration between CT River Poets,
the Creative Writing Class and
Florence Griswold Museum.
Thanks to the enthusiasm and hard
work of their teacher, Mr. Vautrain,
his entire class went on a field trip to
the museum for a guided tour of the
exhibit: Mathilda Brown, Idylls
of Farm and Garden.  

The students wrote their poems in response to a chosen work of art, and over the
following weeks, along with several CT River Poets, workshopped their poems and practiced reading out loud in preparation for our museum reading, Poetry and Painting,  on Sunday, May 21st.

The students, reading along with poets from CT River Poets, created an amazing afternoon that was enriched by incidental music provided by clarinetists David Cohen and O.S.H.S. student, Kiwon Paul.

Patricia Horn O'Brien

April 20, 2017
Image result for facebook symbol       Join our Poetry Facebook group!

Welcome to this neophyte group I'm hoping will serve as a cozy spot
to check in, chat about poetry, find out what poetry is happening
in the area. Be in touch. Post a poem. 

April 20, 2017  Visit Narrative Magazine for more poetry!


30 Poems to Stir the Heart

IN CELEBRATION of our Ninth Annual Poetry Contest, we’re spotlighting a favorite poem
each day for thirty days, leading up to the opening of the contest on May 16.

You’ll enjoy these remarkable works by both masters and emerging writers. Click here to read
poems that will surprise, provoke, delight, and inspire.

See the Contest Guidelines. Read the prior winners.


April 4, 2017

Maile.jpg"A recent graduate of O.S.H.S., Maile Chaplar has a terrific collection of poems
at the link below.  Maile was among the Creative Writing poets in Sue Murphy's
class who wrote poems for our Poetry and Painting programs at the
Florence Griswold Museum.

 Check her work out.  You'll be happy you did!"    

"Note Well:  If you open the PDF link,
above then click on the images in the
poster, you will be linked to a poem related
to the image.

Check it out and enjoy the poetic ride!  

Poetry Schedule 2017 Rev 2.jpg

March 30, 2017
Read these poetry postcards from immigrants, refugees and
others touched by migration by Elizabeth Flock
3302017_93427_0.jpgWhen a group of poetry organizations met in 2015 to talk about collaborating around a shared theme — migration — they didn’t know how timely their effort would be. But “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration,” a project that launched this month with 25 poetry organization in 15 cities, has since resonated in ways the groups didn’t anticipate, with hundreds writing in and tens of thousands reading the poems online.

“I think people naturally come to poetry in times of crisis and confusion,” said Jen Benka, head of the American Academy of Poets, which organized the effort. “But for this project we took the poetry to them"........

For more - Go to Site...

Or Follow:  #WeComeFromEverything eComeFromEverything

March 12, 2017

"The causes for dislocation and migration are devastating.  
In this poem I try to imagine myself as a mother in the
midst of urban warfare ... a scene, sadly, one might
discover in so many locations around the world."  
~  Pat

A Measure of Safety
(In Mosul, for one)
I know the map of this kitchen.
How many paces from its south wall
to its north, how many east to west.

I know the measure of its sugar
and salt.  The measure of oil
I gage by its weight.

I know, from its window, the point
our street vanishes into the rubble
of our neighborhood.  A street that once
had no vanishing point.

I know the breathing of our children
asleep in the next room.  Their
whimpering sleep.  

Awake, my children imagine I know
how to keep them safe.  In dreams,
danger seeps through every measured wall.

March 11, 2017

poets-newsletter-header0.pngBecause We Come from Everything

This month, poetry organizations across the country are collaborating on the initiative Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration. We invite you to join us by sharing these poems about migration, and
                                                                                        helping to spread the word with:                                                                                                                            #WeComeFromEverything.
Peace Path” by Heid E. Erdrich
Migration” by Major Jackson
In Exile” by Emma Lazarus
Immigrant Blues” by Li-Young Lee
Trailing Clouds of Glory” by Vijay Seshadri
Peaches” by Adrienne Su
Mannahatta” by Walt Whitman
Business” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Business  Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

     “Syrian refugees go about their business in a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan…”

Ropes on poles, jeans & shirts flapping in wind.
He sits on a giant bag of rice, head in hands.

Too much or too little, rips & bursts & furrows.
Something seared in a pan.

If you knew a mother, any mother, you would care
for mothers, yes?  No.

What it is to be lonesome for stacked papers
on a desk, under glass globe,

brass vase with standing pencils,
new orders.

How quickly urgencies of doing disappear.
And where is the child from the next apartment,

whose crying kept him awake
these last terrible months? 

Where do you file this unknowing?
Learn More about Poetry & Migration

Take a look at our curated collectionof audio recordings, essays, books, poems, lesson plans, and other resources on migration, presented as part of the Poetry Coalition’s inaugural effort.

And keep an eye out for a special week of poems by contemporary poets related to the theme of migration in Poem-a-Day, starting March 20.

January 17, 2017

One day last summer, while under the breezy and spectacular spell of Founders Landing, I heard the long-forgotten but unmistakable sound of wagon wheels squeaking their way up the road to the park. 

When the red wagon arrived bearing Noah, pulled by Christopher Listorti, his dad, I was sure we had all been transported to a magical kingdom ... one right off Main Street, Old Saybrook!

The magic continued when Noah scrambled onto one of the park's boulders and took his superhero pose.  I knew we should memorialize the moment and with his father's permission, took the picture you see here.

Christopher and I have stayed in touch, have exchanged thoughts and ideas about poetry and music, and, with his permission I am sharing this photo and poem.  Noah and Christopher and I hope you enjoy sharing in the fun.     Pat O'B.

                        When Noah Shows Up       Calvin.png
        From a safe distance, we watch you unfold
        up and out of your Wheeled Steely Red,
        threatening the air, knuckles first. Noah,
        we know the risk. We've heard all about

        the rugged drums you pound down your block.~
        Heard how your grand-eloquent speech wakes
        sleepyheads, street-after-street, those wheels
        creaking the road, your sweet smile, your
        bright eyes no ease to the fear that quakes us.
        Noah, you don't need one rough beast,
        no less two-by-two, to ride with you. We'll
        make way for you, your super-strength enough

        to assure you're safe from us! We are at
        your beck and call. Not that you ever doubted it.
                        Patricia O’Brien, 1/17/17



A poem by Roger Keys, inspired by the painting by Hokusai, reminds us to stay awake
to the world around us … and your world will be full of I Remembers!

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa-oki nami ura, "Under the wave off Kanagawa"),is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai. It was published between 1830 and 1833.



Alice & Queen.jpg

"There is no use trying, said Alice;
"One can't believe impossible things." 
"I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. 
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. 
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things
before breakfast."
                                         Lewis Carroll



Kurt Vonnegut  Quotable Quote....


" ...  The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”  

October 1st, 2016
bookcover0172.jpgThis newly-published book, Poetry and Art along the Connecticut River, unites the talents of local poets and artists in a small, beautiful volume produced for those who love both words and images.

The idea for this collaboration originated with John and Angie Falstrom, owners of the publishing company Perennial Designs in Lyme. ~After several meetings with poet and artist friends, they conceived of a collaborative project that would showcase the works of both.
Fifteen local artists agreed to participate and each contributed an artwork that they felt might inspire poetry.~ Fifteen poets from the Connecticut River Poets were then matched with a piece of art in a random drawing. The artwork became each poet’s muse in the creative process. The results were delightful and surprising, illustrating the idea that the juxtaposition of images and words are often more than the sum of their parts.

The following poets contributed poems: Patricia Barone, Barbara Batt, Jane D’Arista, Margaret Gibson, Marilyn Nelson, Patricia Horn O’Brien, Mary Guitar, Gwen Gunn, Nancy Meneely, Sharon Olson, Lana Orphanides, Lorraine Riess, Kate Rushin, Edwina Trentham and Mary Buell Volk.

Artists represented are Helen Cantrell, Ashby Carlisle, Catherine Christiano, Angie Falstrom1012016_102537_2.jpg, Judy Friday, Laurel B. Friedmann, Sandy Garvin, Gray Jacobik, Ralph Levesque, Jodi Muench, Kim Muller-Thym, Judy Perry, Deborah Quinn-Munson, Hilary Seltzer and Lori Warner.

The book is also available at various local stores including the Florence Griswold Museum Gift Shop in Old Lyme, the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester, H.L. Reynolds Store in Lyme, and Hadlyme Country Market. It can also be ordered through the website Perrenial Designs. For more information, please contact Angie Falstrom,,  Perennial Designs, 860-434-3194 or Mary Guitar, Connecticut River Poets,, 860-326-1351

Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 PH: (860) 395-3184