I am honored to have been selected to be editor of the Powow River Poets second anthology. A year’s long project, the anthology is now available for sale at Able Muse Press. The official book launch will be via Zoom at two Powow River poets readings on December 19, 2020 and January 16, 2021. Visit: http://www.powowriverpoets.com
My Beginning as a Writer
I believe it’s never too late to learn something new. I began my creative writing in 2007 when I learned I was about to become a grandmother. I began by writing lullabies and bedtime stories in verse for my soon to be granddaughter (I knitted her a blanket too, at the insistence of a friend, but my heart was more in the writing. I knit very slowly and my thumbs get numb.).
I printed several illustrated books for my granddaughter. A few still hold together. I also started writing what grew to be a middle grade novel.
After several years, a young adult novel seemed to begin writing itself with a protagonist who loved poetry and who promised her dad she would major in poetry in college and become a poet.
So when I soon after moved to Newburyport to be near my now two granddaughters, I took my first poetry course through the Newburyport Lyceum. The course was taught by Rhina P. Espaillat, a very accomplished and award winning poet and co-founder of the Powow River Poets. I fell in love with poetry and Rhina, as everyone who meets her does. I learned, as much as I must breathe, I must write poetry.
Many who had taken the poetry course agreed to meet monthly to continue to exchange our poems. Soon, Alfred Nicol, another award winning poet in town and member of the Powow River Poets (www.powowriverpoets.com), welcomed us into his bimonthly poetry workshop early in 2015.
I wrote my first sonnet in my first few months, before attending my first weekend formal poetry conference at the Frost Farm in Derry, NH (http://www.robertfrostfarm.org). This first sonnet, “Work or Play,” was published in the The Lyric, Spring 2016 (http://www.thelyricmagazine.com), the oldest magazine in North America dedicated to formal poetry, founded in 1921. My first rondeau, “Rushmore,” about my father’s last wood carving, was published in Ibbetson Street Press # 40, December/January 2016 (http://www.ibbetsonpress.com). My second rondeau, “Her Eye Exam,” a persona poem, was published in Ibbetson Street Press # 41, May/June 2017 (http://www.ibbetsonpress.com). I am grateful to ISP to now have 6 poems published in this well respected poetry magazine, in issues 40-45. The Poetry Porch, Sonnet Scroll, July 2019 published “The Touch of Wood,” my first seven sonnet sequence poem with tags after each sonnet (https://www.Thepoetryporch.com).
I became an active member of an open mic community poetry group in Merrimac, MA: Merrimac Mic, launched and led by Isabell VanMerlin, whom I met when I took several of her memoir courses that she taught through the Newburyport Lyceum when she lived in Newburyport. As the organizer of this open poetry group and through the goodness of her heart, Isabell continues to invite all who participate in reading poems throughout each year, to submit several pages of poetry for an annual anthology she puts together using Create Space, now combined with Kindle. I feel fortunate to have contributed several poems to each of the Merrimac Mic anthologies II (2016) through V (2019), (http://www.amazon.com for II-IV and www.createspace.com for V) and to have contributed some art together with my poetry, and the cover art, in IV and V. The cover photos and other nature photos are on my photography page. The art that appears with poems in the anthology, as well as other drawing and painting, is on the painting page. My poetry appears in the chapbook Poems for Plovers (Hawk & Whippoorwill, 2020) and 2020 Hippocrates Awards Anthology.
My poem “Newburyport” appears in this digital copy of the Expression Book for the Merrimac Valley Cultural Mapping Project 2020.
My first chapbook, In Silence, was published by Finishing Line Press, June 2018 (http://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/in-silence-by-paulette-turco/).
Below, I list the blurbs that are on the chapbook’s back cover:
Paulette Demers Turco’s poems gathered here, In Silence, speak with quiet compassion for the boy who must be coaxed to the window of his burning bedroom, the devoted mother of a child stillborn, the elderly man who will not surrender to the loss of his faculties; in short, they speak for all of us “trapped” in the human condition. Even in celebration—of the cycle of seasons, of the limpet’s exemplary tenacity, of the miraculous migration of butterflies— this poet does not raise her voice. I am reminded of a quotation from Anna Kamienska’s journal: “How to write so that the poem is as close as possible to silence.” Let the headlines shout; let radios blare the latest hits; but let’s find a quiet spot somewhere and listen closely to these poems.
Paulette Demers Turco’s In Silence has many elements to praise, but my favorite is the sustained metaphor that lifts these poems right off the page. A river becomes a ballet. A mother’s life becomes vivid and gorgeously poignant in terms of her sewing accomplishments. As for the natural world—metaphor again; a poem like “The Limpet” expresses both emotion and idea.
The various physical states of water echo the seasons that frame the flow of the poems, and each title brings added color to the included poems. Even when her subject is dark—serious illness, abandonment, dementia—Turco provides consolation: “Solace”, in fact is the title of one of the poems. Nor is humor far away; “She Dreamed” describes suffering, but colloquially and with a delightful surprise ending. Throughout the book, this poet tempers philosophy with reassuring perspective: she puts the world in its lyrical place.
The only “silence” perceptible in Paulette Turco’s first poetry collection is the stillness of a mind observing, absorbing and weighing experience, both casual and profound. After that, it’s all sound: the music of well crafted triolets, sonnets, villanelles and other strict forms, as well as the occasional and equally ear-pleasing free verse. And along with the music, the other gifts of poetry: imagery that goes deeper than the senses, and genuine human communication.
These poems invite the reader to witness the migration of butterflies across great distances; conversation across no distance at all between a migraine-afflicted speaker and her painful condition; the thoughts of a bride before her arranged marriage; the fright of a child trapped in a burning room; a lone pregnant girl contemplating the future; veteran remembering war; the troubled confusion of an elderly woman trying to recapture the memory of her happy marriage.
If you are moved by entering the lives of others by means of the written word, this book is for you: you’ll enjoy its silences, as well as the varied voices that follow.
~Rhina P. Espaillat
With my welcoming into the Powow River Poets in October 2018 and my completion of my MFA in Writing this June 2019 from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, I look forward to continually honing my writing and contributing to the poetry community and literature.
Contributing to the Poetry Community
I have been a member of the John Greenleaf Whittier Home & Museum since 2017 and have been a guest reader at the Tapestry of Voices August Celebration of Whittier in (19th) 2017 to (22th) 2020. I am a member of the Amesbury Poet Laureate Committee since 2018.
I enjoyed performing my portrayal of Emily Dickinson at the Rockport Poetry Festival, April 28, 2019.
I also enjoyed being a “Herstory Stanzas” guest reader, March 28, 2019 and March 18, 2018, hosted by Rhina Espaillat and Deborah Szabo. The performance was sponsored by The Actor’s Studio at the Tannery, Water Street, Newburyport, MA and will return again next year.
Robert Frost Poetry Award in 2020 for “Singer” and a runner-up poem, “Annulment.” Both have been recorded on Youtube.
Commendation for “On the Way to School” in the 2020 FPM-Hippocrates Health Professional Prize for Poetry and Medicine, included in the 2020 Hippocrates Awards Anthology.
First Prize in Rockport Ekphrastic Poetry Contest, April 2019, for “Harbor Reflections.”
Powow River Poet, membership granted, November 2018, Newburyport, MA.
MFA in Writing President’s Scholarship Award, Lesley University, 2017-19.
Honorable Mention, Naomi Cherkofsky Memorial North Shore Poetry Poetry Contest, 2014.
Second Place Award, Newburyport Adult & Community Education Essay Writing contest, 2014.
- Featured Zoom reader, Walnut Street Café, August 19, 2020.
- Among Featured readers, 22nd Annual Tapestry of Voices Collaborative Poetry Reading on Zoom with the John Greenleaf Whittier Home, Amesbury, MA, August 9, 2020.
- Hippocrates Award Zoom Reading, July 8, 2020.
- Participating Judge, via Zoom, Lawrence Catholic School Robert Frost Poetry Recitation Contest, June 11, 2020.
- Participation in Hippocrates Prize Winners recorded Zoom reading, May 18, 2020.
- Among featured readers, 21st annual Tapestry of Voices Collaborative Poetry Reading hosted by John Greenleaf Whittier Home, Amesbury, MA, August 11, 2019.
- Featured reader, Haverhill River Bards, Battlegrounds Cafe, Haverhill, MA, June 5, 2019.
- Featured reader, Boston National Poetry Festival, Boston Public Library, Copley Square, April 7, 2019.
- Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH, “Four Poets Newly Published by Finishing Line Press,” October 17, 2018.
- Paula Estey Gallery, 3 Harris Street, Newburyport, MA, “The Three Muses: Poetry Reading and Art,” one of three featured poet/artists, September 28, 2018.
- Manchester by the Sea Public Library, 15 Union Street, Manchester MA, moderator and featured reader, “Four Poets Recently Published by Finishing Line Press,” September 23, 2018.
- Jabberwocky Books, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA, In Silence Chapbook Launch and Reading, September 14, 2018.
- 20th Anniversary Tapestry of Voices Collaborative Poetry Reading at the Whittier Home, Amesbury MA, August 12, 2018. Reading: “How the Women Went to Dover,” “I Always Knew.”
- Frost Farm Poetry Conference Weekend, Derry NH, June 15-17, 2018. Reading: “Birch, Ice, Snow.”
- Amesbury Public Library Poetry Series, April 2018: reading from In Silence published by Finishing Line Press and Merrimac Mic Anthology IV: Watershed, Isabell VanMerlin, editor, March 2018.
- 19th Annual Tapestry of Voices Collaborative Poetry Reading at the Whittier Home, Amesbury, MA, August 2017. Whittier poem reading: “How the Women Went to Dover.”