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Arts & Artists

New Hampshire Poet Showcase
From NH Poet Laureate, Walter E. Butts

At my request, the NH Arts Council is providing me with a link to the poet laureate page on their website in order that I may continue to showcase poems by a number of New Hampshire Poets. The poets will be by my invitation only, but I plan to include those who are seriously working at their craft from many areas of the state.

Featured Poet: J. Kates, Fitzwilliam

J. Kates is a poet and literary translator, whose latest book, The Briar Patch, will be published by Hobblebush Books in 2012. “Words” can be found in Metes and Bounds (Accents Publishing, 2010).

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“Words” began as a translation from a language (Ukrainian) I am able to read only through a glass darkly. It took on a life of its own at about the same time I recognized my own incompetence to make proper English sense of the original. The animal schematics I devised (earth, air, water) led inevitably to the last stanza, which alludes to an afternoon I spent fishing on the Yuzhny Bug River with the Ukrainian poet whose own poem had started these “Words.”

WORDS

after V. S. Rabenchuk

I write. I command. The word is an animal
to the truth — sometimes a flower or stone
or star, you say? — no, always a beast, and one
it's up to each of us to bring to heel.

I track words through their laughter and their tears.
I crack my whip and order them: Be divine!
Love one another! They snarl and pace the line
and ravage a carrion meal when it appears.

I watch them fly in chevrons overhead,
looking for quiet waters. I set out
decoys to bring them close enough to shoot.
After the first, even the last has fled.

I lie in wait among the quiet reeds
for a word to swallow the hook, come flashing up
like sunrise and flap gasping in the scupper.
Dying, the scales turn gray; a small mouth bleeds.

 

More from J. Kates:
http://www.english.ufl.edu/subtropics/Kates_interview.html

 


 

Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: October 30, 2012

 
 
 
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