Meet Old Saybrook's Poet Laureate:
Patricia Horn O’Brien
Pat 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
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!
November 27, 2017
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, with its special time with friends and family, I was reminded how lucky we are
when our everyday loves are made easily accessible … when we mull around in the kitchen, dish towel or
oven mitt in hand, take a walk together in the leaf-blown day, play Scrabble before the fire, and, at some point
in the bustle of the day, gather around the dining room table!
We gather to express our gratitude for our lives and for each other … and all in the fabulous landscape
of the changing seasons!
I think Jane Kenyon’s Poem, Otherwise, helps to capture the importance of being awake to these blessings …
those blessings highlighted, of course, on Thanksgiving Day … but, more importantly, present in all
their simple glory every single day!
Happy Days, everyone! Pat, O.S. P.L.
Otherwise - Poem by Jane Kenyon
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
Jane Kenyon was born May 23, 1947, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the Midwest.
She earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972.
Jane Kenyon published 4 books of poetry: Constance, Let Evening Come, The Boat of Quiet Hours, and From Room to Room as well as a book of translation, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova.
In December 1993 she and husband, Donald Hall, were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.”
In 1995 Kenyon was named poet laureate of New Hampshire; she died later that year from leukemia, on April 22.
November 20, 2017
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.
Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ’em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.
In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.
Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.
The seed burrs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.
A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.
The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.
The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.
Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.
Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
November 1, 2017
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month
Celebrate by reading and sharing these poems from Poets.org.
For more, visit their Native American Heritage Month
by Sherwin Bitsui
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.
August 25, 2017
"On August 19th, Michele Van Epps, 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."
July 29, 2017
PRESS 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:
LAUREATES OF CONNECTICUT
AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY
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,Amazon.com, or Grayson Books
July 28, 2017
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 . . .
*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.
April 4, 2017
"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!
March 30, 2017
Read these poetry postcards from immigrants, refugees and
others touched by migration by Elizabeth Flock
When 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"........
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."
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
Awake, my children imagine I know
how to keep them safe. In dreams,
danger seeps through every measured wall.
March 11, 2017
Because We Come from Everything
“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,
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
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
"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
" ... 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
This 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 Falstrom, 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, email@example.com, Perennial Designs, 860-434-3194 or Mary Guitar, Connecticut River Poets, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-326-1351