Mining Poetry for Humor and Meaning
Olivia Hull

What if a deceased dog could talk? What if hippos went on holiday?

Those are some of the questions asked and answered by the former U.S. poet laureate and Island favorite Billy Collins in a reading of new and selected poems at Featherstone Center for the Arts last Friday evening. Among other disparate themes, he explored parenting, animal-human relationships, endearing soap bars and the experience of a traveler who arrives in a foreign place and is immediately told he has arrived too late in the year to witness the peak of the natural beauty.

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My Yellow Lab Floyd

He shows me the way

A boy in a dog suit

On a scent


His marble-sized eyes

Soft brown nougats

Warm Black Crow centers

Anchored in opposing tear drops

At rest

Lying sideways

Between the weight of the world

And a profound sense of loss

He has seen it all

And regrets most of it

Eyes rimmed as if with kohl

It’s a look, a look that cannot be denied

You want to give him everything

You will give him anything,

Anything that will make his tongue come out

And swipe his snout

Or make him sweep the floor with his tail

Call his name

Tell him he’s good

Ask him if he wants food

Ask him if he wants a ride

Tell him Mommy’s coming

Tell him anyone’s coming

For God’s sake just say hello

As Quixote upon seeing a windmill,

He tilts his head

He pumps an eyebrow

He’s ready to follow you

To the ends of the earth or the driveway,

Whichever comes first.

“Mommy, why is that doggie so sad?”

The little girl pumps her mother’s hand,

Her finger wags at Floyd

“He can’t help it,” I say in a sing-song way.

“His eyes are shaped like sadness.

His brows slope down,

Like a seesaw always down.

He always looks this way,

Even when he’s happy

And he’s always happy.

Isn’t that right, Floyd?”






The little girl runs over and hugs Floyd,

Squeezing his scruff with arms of grace in training.

He looks at me as if to say,

“Is this the ends of the earth or the driveway?”

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Acclaim Received, Never Sought for Poetic Soul
Olivia Hull

Throughout her life, Fanny Howe has consistently chosen to do what she loves most, never expecting to be compensated, much less be read or appreciated. She has lived a life of letters, writing poetry for her own enjoyment and inspiring others to do the same.

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Noepe Center for Literary Arts: A Still Place for Flowing Creativity
Olivia Hull

In the Wampanoag language, the word “noepe” means, according to one interpretation, a still place among the currents. The Wampanoag people gave the name Noepe to this Island to indicate that it was a piece of dry land among opposing tidal currents.

In downtown Edgartown, a still place exists at the intersection of three roads. It is a refuge of sorts, which has for years provided shelter and peace of mind to visiting artists.

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Creative Foundation at Cleaveland House

The Cleaveland House Poetry Group was founded over 40 years ago by Dionis Coffin Riggs, its name arising from her house in West Tisbury where the meetings are held. It is the longest running writers group on Martha’s Vineyard, hosting bi-weekly meetings, year-round. Today Dionis’ daughter, Cynthia Riggs, presides over the group, and the meetings are still held at the same location.

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The Lonely Days Are Gone, My Baby Printed Me a Letter
Olivia Hull

When most guests sit down to a dinner at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark, they usually glance at the menu and then set it down again, absentmindedly imprinting it with grease and wine stains. But the more discerning will notice that the seemingly disposable item is actually a work of art — the design is innovative, the words have been selected for sound and form, and the ink has been elegantly fused with the paper.

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Poem: For Maya
Carolyn Forche

Dipping our bread in oil tins

we talked of morning peeling

open our rooms to a moment

of almonds, olives and wind

when we did not yet know what we were.

The days in Mallorca were alike:

footprints down goat-paths

from the beds we had left,

at night the stars locked to darkness.

At that time we were learning

to dance, take our clothes

in our fingers and open

ourselves to their hands.

The veranera was with us.

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For Copper of Chilmark

A copper-white streak across the field,

Darting through dunes, power to wield . . .

A Brittany spaniel at home on the moors

Not of French, but Vineyard shores.

Like a king atop ridges he’d survey his land,

Alert ears, tail — and again sail the sand.

When he did pause and gaze with amber eyes

Upon those he loved, with his soul so wise . . .

’Twas clear Copper to no other could compare:

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Eighteen eider ducks

are swimming in the sun

from Vineyard Haven’s harbor

on their lighthouse run

underneath our dock and by

our bright sand cove

they pause to feed, then spin and

dance in pairs, as if in love

with the freezing winter weather

come too soon: November, first

plunging from Indian summer

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Message To A Widow

Message To A Widow

In a small, protected inlet of the evening pond,

loud white in a strong shaft of final, flaming sun,

one swan lies on quiet water,

(not the two of daily habit),

head buried into breast,

asleep on the movement of a gentle swell.

It is as though this radiant path of sun

were heaven sent


to sanctify,

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