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New Hampshire Poet Showcase
From NH Poet Laureate, Pat Fargnoli

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 showcase poems by a number of New Hampshire Poets. The poets will be by my invitation only, but I plan to include both the famous and the less famous ....those who are seriously working at poetry craft from many areas of the state. A different poet and poem will be presented every 2 weeks.

Featured Poet: Maggie Dietz, Exeter

Maggie DietzMaggie Dietz is assistant poetry editor for the online magazine Slate, and is frequently a lecturer in creative writing at Boston University. For several years she directed the national Favorite Poem Project and is co-editor of three anthologies related to the project, most recently An Invitation to Poetry (W. W. Norton & Co.). Her awards include the Grolier Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Her work has appeared in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Agni, and Salmagundi. Her first book of poems is Perennial Fall (The University of Chicago Press, 2006).

Of her showcase poem, Maggie writes:

The verses the title refers to, in the King James Version, are: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The poem was missing some element until I read a story in the New York Times on the anniversary of the 1980 Mt. Saint Helen's eruption, in which the geologist David Johnston (and many others) perished. It was Johnston's last words that struck me with a kind of happy pain-how thrilled and moved he seemed by the great geological occurrence (a kind of natural masterpiece) that would take his life; somehow the words, his experience, got at the heart of the question of where one's treasure is, how fiercely we cling to our terrestrial gifts and loves.

MATTHEW 6: 19-21

Hold off awhile, moth and
rust and thieves-for I love

this world, my heart is
here, where a body breathes.

I've seen such treasures, even
of your making: night's wool,

the frayed holes light comes
through. Burnt sky cracking

the corroded ocean Octobers
the sun goes. Thieves have

taken grief, and the thing
one hated most. So keep

your work up elsewhere, leave
me my store. The young

geologist radioed THIS
before St. Helens sank

him, seized in his dream: 
treasure of rupture and force.

What does one fear if not a
loss? How do days in the next

world pass? Nothing to tend,
nothing you're up against.

No moth, no rust. O Lord let
there be thieves among the angels.

Copyright © 2006 The University of Chicago Press. “Matthew 6: 19-21” first appeared in Literary Imagination.

For more information about Maggie Dietz, visit:

Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: March 5, 2008

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