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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: Sara Willingham, Concord

Sara WillinghamSara Willingham lives and writes in Concord, New Hampshire.  Her poems have been published in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Poetry East, Spoon River Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, Lullwater Review, Nimrod and several others.  Sara is a member of the NH Writers Project and a former poetry editor for The Granite Review.  She is a longstanding member of the Concord-based “Yogurt Poets” and through that group, has performed in readings and has had the opportunity to study in master workshops with many of our remarkable New England poets, including the current NH Poet Laureate, Walter E. Butts.  Sara is also a fine arts photographer and often incorporates visual imagery from her photographs into her poems.

How I came to write “Photographing the Sunset”

Some years ago I spent a week in the Allagash at a wilderness location accessible only by boat.  One evening I sat by myself on the graying dock that leaned out into the lake, and I watched the entire sunset from the first hint of color until I was wrapped in the darkness.  I had never taken the time to watch an entire sunset before, and as a photographer I was fascinated by how many changes took place within the span of only a few minutes.  When I sat down later to work on “Photographing the Sunset,” I was thinking about the owner of the camp where I stayed that week.  He had recently lost his father and had described to me how he’d scattered his father’s ashes out on the lake.  This poem, like many or perhaps even all poems, is also about the act of writing: sometimes, after shooting a few hundred photos, we come up with a single great image.  Sometimes, after rewriting many drafts, we write a poem that leads us to a discovery both universal and particular to our own mythology.

Photographing the Sunset

Chamberlain Lake is huge this year,
the gray shale beach
is buried under water,
so I sit on the bank
beneath a circle of birches,
dangle my feet
and take portraits of the sky.

All around me, like grief
which never goes away,
are the photographs I don’t take:
the bent silhouettes
of pewter trees,
a scrawl of moose tracks
spilling over with rain.

I shoot another roll of film
and hope for an epiphany.

It takes hours.

Above Mt. Katahdin
clouds break into ruddy imaginings,
the aging sun hangs in the cove
like an empty sleeve.

Out on the deepest part
of the lake, where amethyst swells
release their hold
and turn back toward shore,
a man gives his father’s ashes
back to the wind.

                           Nugent’s Camp, the Allagash




Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: September 7, 2010

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