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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: 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).


“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.”


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:



Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: October 30, 2012

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