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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: Alice B. Fogel, Acworth

Alice FogelAlice B. Fogel’s book, Be That Empty, was #8 on the national poetry bestseller list in 2008. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, her work has appeared in the Best American Poetry series, and many other anthologies and journals. Currently on the faculty of Colby-Sawyer College, she also teaches privately and for other venues.  Her new book, Strange Terrain: A Poetry Handbook for the Reluctant Reader, is a guide for readers, teachers, and others who want to be more comfortable and confident with poetry.  She lives with solar and wind power in Acworth, NH, and is also a custom clothier specializing in “refashioning” clothes out of reprised materials (  Visit her there or at

About “Variation 18: Baker”: "In my full-length project based on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, each poem speaks from a different being or state of being, on a related theme of spirit and embodiment. Bach uses a double 16-measure structure, each meant to be played twice;  I use the same structure—2 16-line stanzas—with couplets to mimic the two-fold aspects of both the form and the content. For #18, a canon with overlapping, rising and falling “voices,” this baker from some past century, and his rising bread, came to me.  I’m sure some bakers, then as now, are just plain business minded and not all that spiritual about getting up every morning to punch dough, but that’s why this one got the job."

Variation 18: Baker
Always daily in darkness deeper
than the former lit room of my dreams

I rise to predawn. By daybreak already
the bread side by side like cobblestones

baking in the great black womb,
its spirit scent ascending:

that sweetness that bitterness
absorbs and then sets free. Always already

the wheat in the field, hunger, rain.
The stalks in the bleeding

hand, grain
in the mill, chaff on the ground.

Grain ground until
all air’s banished, all spaces fill

with the lighter heavier
powder of flour:


Then once more in the solid
dough, pushing, breath-infused, inspired,

the yeast singing from the heart
always already wine-alive,

releasing, like some tiny muse being
compressed, so the more I press, the more

it rises up--soprano prayer
returning to God and soon to be

folded into well-oiled forms. And by day
always already I have swallowed

steaming the broken
wholeness of fresh-grown loaves,

the aboriginal substance a language selved
warm in my throat, another

expanded breast’s intake of air
firmed in the famished flesh.

from Interval: Poems Based upon Bach’s Goldberg Variations & the Predicament of Embodiment
Originally published in the Massachusetts Review




Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: February 4, 2010

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