December Readers: Terry Karnan and Jane
Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program, as we note at each Hoot, is an
all-volunteer organization. As hard as Board members work on behalf
of the PPLP, they largely do so unnoticed and invisibly. You don't
have to be a poet to be a Board member. But we don't get to hear
those Board members who are poets all that often. This December we
was educated in
Philadelphia and published poems in small
press journals there. She retired from a career with the US
Department of State and lives in
Portsmouth. She notes: After a decade's
hiatus, her poems are being published locally.
With her husband, she enjoys foreign travel in pursuit of exotic
vegetarian food. Jane is a relatively recent PPLP Board member
pleased, indeed to welcome
our Hoot Co-Host, as one of our featured readers. Terry has been
actively attending the Hoot since early days -- which goes back to
the time when attendees sat on plastic milk crates! Terry also
serves as a PPLP Board member. With all her excellent open mic
hosting, we are glad at last to switch gears and experience her
Among other things, December is gift giving time. Give
yourself a gift this season. Set aside the first Wednesday
evening to her two fine local poets
Ceremony & Celebration!
2015 we celebrated the 10-year
anniversary of Cafe Espresso's hosting our monthly Hoot.
Actually, it was actually ten years ago September, 2014 - but who's
counting? In our brief ceremony we honored Dave Hadwen and his
server crew. He returned the favor by baking a delicious
10-year anniversary cake.
To see photos and the text of the presentation
follow this link.
Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Kate Leigh
The Passing of the Quill is part of the
inauguration ceremony, every two years, of the next Poet
Laureate. An ingredient of the Passing of the Quill
tradition is this: after the outgoing Laureate passes the
quill, the new Laureate reads a poem. Here is Kate's
poem. Blog-style, Tammi Truax's introduction appears after
by Kate Leigh
We're fond of the common lilac over
As children we played beneath her branches with our toys.
We love the way she drapes her weight, forming scented bowers.
Now adults, we cut her blooms to grace our homes with poise.
Lilac, no wonder you are named flower of our state.
Weddings planned so brides can stand, cradling your bouquets.
It’s for all your varieties and exhaled breath we wait.
Your white and purple fragrant bunches, favorites of displays.
I hold with Celia Thaxter’s abundant love of flowers.
She basked in joy of tending, from seeds to fully risen.
Her gardens beamed with splendor, both single buds and showers,
Her bliss sustained by those beds, radiant as prisms.
On Smuttynose the Island’s stand of lilacs has gone wild.
For whom is shrub pruning more a pleasure than a duty?
These may be the oldest boughs New England has on file.
Whence springs the caring soul that cherishes their beauty?
Celia says, 'true lover of flowers is born, not made’
May pure ‘joy…..tranquil, innocent, uplifting, unfailing’
Visit our gardens, and while near lilacs’ corsaged glade,
Persuade us always to adore loveliness unveiling.
Obama recently remarked a barren world would be,
One which we will not allow, one void of poetry.
As Portsmouth keeps expanding, let us hope to revere
Lilacs grown by historic homes, and lyric poems sincere.
City Hall Ceremony, May 4, 2015:
Introduction by Tammi Truax
I met Kate Leigh, appropriately
enough, at a poetry reading, I don't know how many years ago. We
have been shepherding each other's work ever since. For example,
she is currently reading a hefty manuscript of mine that I can't
get anyone else to touch. And I know she will give me thoughtful
and intelligent feedback.
Writing, particularly poetry, appears to come easy to her. It's
in her blood, her DNA. She descends from a long line of proud
poets. Going back at least as far as her Grandfather, a poet who
chaired the English department at Phillips Exeter Academy when
she was a child.
She maintains a quiet and focused daily practice of reading and
writing the likes of which most artists only manage during the
first few weeks of January. Poetry, the beautiful expression of
carefully chosen words and thoughts, is simply part of who she
But in addition to being a poet, Kate is many other things. Most
notably; a mother, gardener, and healer. They too are strong
parts of who she is. You're likely to see these attributes
during her term. Like a shepherdess, she will lead us, softly
and gently, to a new place, a safe place, where we will feed.
I am certain that we, this little city that she loves flaws and
all, will benefit in ways now unimaginable. I am certain her
project, whatever it will be, will also have the mother's, the
gardener's, the healer's touch to it. It will come to us, I
expect, in soft and subtle ways, and we will find ourselves fed
in ways we didn't know we hungered.
It will be peaceful. It will be profound. It will be poetic.
I'd like to close by reading a brief poem written by Portsmouth
very first poet laureate, Esther Buffler, chosen because this
poem reminds me of Kate. Probably because both are/were
by Esther Buffler
like removing one's bra in relief.
Things that bind the spirit,
now no one's looking, nothing to fear;
Old established patterns
have no meaning;
Lifted, arising into an unfettered,
unbothered clear, I am free.
images from the Ceremony and Celebration
Learn about our
previous Laureates here.
~ ~ ~