Dick Allen, Connecticut State Poet Laureate and Professor Emeritus at the University of Bridgeport, is one of our greatest living poets. He has taught me much, even though I never knew him while he taught at UB. His work continually astounds me. He has read for UB’s Lecture Series, Necessary Voices, and at hundreds of other venues across the state. He is devoted to the arts and serves enthusiastically as the state’s laureate.
I’m honored that he took a sneak peak at Reconnaissance (to be released officially in April by Homebound Publications). Here’s what he said:
Poem by poem, year by year, Amy Nawrocki’s work has expanded in reach and confidence. Its fruition is here in her new collection, Reconnaissance—a wonder of seeing, painting, photographing, eavesdropping, thieving (“I stole van Gogh’s sadness and painted it on my shoulder”), spying, finding a way through a world that alternately stuns her, saddens her, delights her. Nawrocki is particularly in love with describing paintings and painters (in “Poem for Salvador Dali. . . ”, “I dreamt last night of a mustache”), with fitting past history to current life (“Toward a New Deal,” about the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.), with jazz (“a slow / trombone slithers and hands skim the wood torso / of an upright bass, leaving the bow behind / for the kinesthetic of the body”), teaching writing (“Bless the first day of class”) and sometimes even whimsy (as in ”Ode to My Brain,” which begins “How you itch inside my skull. . . . Stop itching, you silly brain”). Most aptly named, Reconnaissance is a welcoming collection of excursions from the inner self to the outward presence. Nawrocki over and over convinces us that the observed and the felt—be it painting, place or person—forever clings to and changes the observer. A warm, rich, valuable and important collection. I most highly recommend it for buying, reading and rereading. What a pleasure it is to have followed this poet on her path to such true accomplishment.
Dick Allen is the author of This Shadowy Place: Poems and seven other prize-winning poetry volumes. Add Dick Allen to your library and help me thank him for his generous words. Order your copy of Reconnaissance today for early shipping from Homebound.
To celebrate National Readathon Day and to get ready for the release of Reconnaissance, check out Goodreads and Homebound Publications for a chance to win a free copy of the upcoming collection.
Click here for details and to enter. Get reading!
This poem was first published in Nomad’s End, Finishing Line Press, 2010
On the long way home from the bus stop,
kicked-up leaves gather in the trenches
along the side of the dirt road
pushed together by moving cars and people walking.
Overhead, camouflaged by their uniformity, birds
meander the sleek birches as a girl, goofy and marvelous,
ambles past the Wilson’s house and mica rock
making up characters and acting out moon stories.
In the earth’s penumbra, her circle of playmates
holds hands, not minding when the rain
discovers their marathon, hoping the cross winds,
full of tea parties and bittersweet chimes,
will sweep them away to the company of trees.
There is no sound like this ample baritone
which echoes a young girl’s thinking. In solitude
there is always singing, always voices
saturated and golden, sublime
waltzing through perfect shadows pianissimo.
This poem originally appeared in Lune de Miel, published by Finishing Line Press, 2012.
Two battered boots wait
near the sloped steps that tilt
toward Vincent’s room in Arles.
On the back of a wobbly chair
hangs a solitary straw hat glimpsing
handprints thickly smeared
on the doorknob. Curled tubes
of cadmium spill the last beads
onto a dried palette, and a few
brushes soak in a tin bucket
of turpentine. In a frenzy,
flax, goldenrod, and chartreuse
pile onto canvases, sunflowers
left to dance in the dark melancholy
of the studio, petals falling from
the stretched linen as Vincent
storms into a black and starry night.
This poem first appeared in Potato Eaters, published by Finishing Line Press in 2008.
On the nights she went out
to PTA meetings and Tupperware parties,
my mother would leave
a pressed ruby imprint of lips
on a square of toilet paper.
left on the counter,
by the time I was fourteen,
I had hundreds saved
in her crimson pump shoe-box
under my bed. Weighed down slightly
by a perfume bottle, those kisses
were left for me to find,
until I grew out of snug, cotton dresses.
Now, my best moments recreate
those toilet-tissue touches,
those sanguine emblems,
of beauty, and generosity,
those most sacred tokens
of any world.
I had a great time at Saturday’s book signing with David K. Leff and Eric D. Lehman. The booth was part of the Danbury First Congregational Church Fall Festival. If you missed all the local authors (we were just three of many), head over to Byrd’s Books and catch up on your reading list.
Here’s me reading from Four Blue Eggs in March at Byrd’s Books in downtown Bethel (126 Greenwood Avenue). If you can’t get there in person, you can order online! Support your local independent bookstore. Byrd’s is one of the state’s best.
Join Eric and me Tuesday, Sept. 16 at the Miller Memorial Library. We’ll be discussing Literary Connecticut in the historic Thornton Wilder Hall. Learn more about Wilder and his fellow Connecticut authors.
Check out the Autumn issue of the Wayfarer. New England writers are featured, and you’ll find two of my villanelles as well as an essay by Eric D. Lehman.
Click the cover to pre-order your copy. While you’re there, order your copy of Four Blue Eggs from the bookstore.