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 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.
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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
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.
"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.”
November 9, 2016
"Please stop by to see the Town Hall bulletin board display posted 11/8 of the poetry and art included in the book Poetry and Art Along the Connecticut River [see additional book information below.]
Thanks for taking a moment. We think you'll be happy you did! Pat, O.S.P.L." email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, Perennial Designs, 860-434-3194 or Mary Guitar, Connecticut River Poets, email@example.com, 860-326-1351
The CT River Poets are grateful to the O.S. Historical Society for their proposal to join with them in the creation of this publication -
"Soulful Grace: The Past in Poetry."
Book designed and printed by Essex Printing