This afternoon is the Fall 2017 reading of the Binghamton Poetry Project. The Binghamton Poetry Project (BPP) is a community poetry initiative which brings graduate students at Binghamton University into the community to facilitate the writing of poetry by adults, teens, and children. I have participated in their workshops for several years. I will always owe them a huge debt of gratitude because it was my participation with them that led to my acceptance by my local critique group, which I now call The Grapevine Group, and to my beginning to publish poetry outside of the BPP anthologies.
BPP holds three workshops a year of five sessions each. We read and discuss some poems and generally write from prompts drawn from those examples. It is interesting as one often writes poems that would otherwise not have been written. Because we only have about fifteen minutes to write, there is not much time to ponder, so I often find myself writing about people or events that I have already had time to process. The first poem below centers on a topic that has appeared in other poems about my childhood hometown. The second is not a topic I have ever written a poem about because it was traumatic, but it was long enough ago that, when it fit the prompt, I ran with it. The third poem is about my friend Angie, whom I have written about often in both prose and poetry.
This year, we are reading at the Broome County Library where we usually meet. We used to hold our readings on Friday evenings rather than Saturday afternoons. This is the first time I have been able to make a Saturday afternoon reading. I’m curious to see if we have better attendance at this venue and time. (I am writing this post early and scheduling it to coincide with the reading.)
For the first time, I am planning to read a poem that is not in the anthology, the current version of a poem that I started working on at the Boiler House Poets’ reunion at MASS MoCA and have subsequently workshopped with both Grapevine Group and Sappho’s Circle. I can’t share it here as I need to keep it unpublished at this point. I am also not sure if it is in its final form, but I need to decide soon as it is part of a chapbook I am assembling for a contest. I am desperate to make this poem the absolute best it can be, but I am afraid I have lost perspective with it. There may be a separate post about it soon – again.
I know this post will look a bit different in spacing than my other posts. It is tricky to get poetry into the wordpress editor without having the spacing compromised and this is as close as I can get to proper spacing in the time I have today. All three poems are by Joanne Corey. Please comment if you are so moved.
The Eiler Brothers sent my parents a video
of our three-bedroom ranch
stained grey with white shutters
loaded on a flatbed
rolled three miles
up River Road
across the state line
to a new foundation.
The house cost them a dollar
and the filling of the old cellar.
I travelled back to visit the yard
white and yellow birches
spruce, balsam, hemlock
sugar and striped maples
lilies of the valley in May.
Thanksgiving – 1981
After words from the phone call drifted to me –
black ice, accident –
I thought you were dead
and our already planned June
wedding would never happen
but the hatch had sprung
after the car landed
on its roof in the river
so that you could crawl
out, scramble up the bank,
get to the nearest building,
the hydrostation where my father
worked, where they put you
in a warm shower
as hypothermia set in.
The next day, we went to see
the car where it had been towed,
chunks of river ice still inside,
a deep dent in the roof,
just behind where your head had been.
To a friend
My dear Little Angel,
You would laugh at that greeting
because, as you would say,
you are – or were –
five foot twelve, which you thought
sounded shorter than six feet,
but your name, Angeline,
means little angel
and you aren’t here
to contradict me.
Your October twenty-fifth birthday
has passed twelve times without you.
Do you know I think of you each year?
Wonder if your hair
would be silver now
If your toddler grandchildren
would like to meet
my infant one…
If you know,
wherever you are,
that they exist…
3 thoughts on “2017 Fall poems for Binghamton Poetry Project”
Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
BRAVO, FROM A FORMER BINGHAMTONIAN–I GREW UP THERE!
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Thanks, Jonathan, for the reblog! I hope you get to come back for a visit every so often.
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