Featured Poet: Carol Westberg, Hanover
Carol Westberg’s first full-length book of poems, Slipstream, was a finalist for the 2011 New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry, and “Map of Uncertain Soundings,” within that collection, was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Prize. Carol has read her work in the Meetinghouse Reading Series, was interviewed on Write The Book, and has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, and CALYX, among other journals. She grew up on a farm in Iowa and earned degrees from Duke, Stanford, and Vermont College. Carol has worked as a book mender, teacher, writer, editor, and marketer and traveled from Ajoya to Istanbul. She and her two daughters moved to New Hampshire in 1991.
About “Tyranny of Dreams” she says, “It’s rare for a poem to come to me in one sitting like this one. The triggering incident was listening to Garrison Keillor joke about SSRIs on his radio show, thinking about the real people these drugs save. I’m especially grateful for friends who’ve shared hopes and fears for our daughters living with challenges of mental and physical health. May we honor their dreams.”
Tyranny of Dreams
I don’t mean to compete
over whose child suffers more,
yours bleeding hope away each month
or mine signed up for her first
shock treatment. The moon’s impassive
over all our children’s dreams.
As a mother I know fear
wraps its hands around the throat.
A phone call can turn the night air to ice.
Today a fire burns in the woodstove
for real, and Garrison Keillor is joking
on the radio about selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
I doubt his son ever took up a razor
and sliced line by line into his thigh
to silence voices clamoring inside himself.
But what do I know of his son,
our daughters? They all must strive
to rise each day and find
two comfortable shoes to slip into.
I’ve grown wary of the tyranny of dreams.
Just now I mean to pad downstairs
for tea and toast that I’ll spread thick
with your wild plum jam.
Published in CALYX Journal, Vol. 26:3, 2011
For more information about Carol Westberg visit:
Photo by Lia Rothstein