April is Poetry Month, thanks to the designation by the Academy of American Poets. In honor of the first day of this annual homage to the spoken word, we're spotlighting collections by several local poets.
Award-winning poet and artist Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda from Hardyville served as Virginia's poet laureate from 2006 to 2008. In 2013 she released "The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo," a two-part collection about the world-renowned, twice-married Mexican artists and their sometimes merry, sometimes heartbreaking lives.
Kreiter-Foronda became enamored with their work after seeing their paintings at El Museo del Barrio in New York City. She writes in the book's preface, "The first time I saw the paintings…I knew a book of poems was in the making."
In Part I of "The Embrace," Kreiter-Foronda explores the life and artistic vision of Diego Rivera, including a series of monologues in the voices of his four wives. "Collectively, the monologues offer a glimpse into Rivera's personal life, his inability to remain faithful, and his unwavering loyalty to his art." Kreiter-Foronda wrote that Part II of the book "evolved after exploring La Casa Azul, or the Blue House, where Frida Kahlo was born and lived most of her life." The poetry touches on Kahlo's marriages, the pain of illnesses and other influences from the home.
Among the collection is "Frida and Wet Nurse."
You do not nourish me, though you offer your breasts,
A wet nurse,
while my real mother gives birth to a sister.
I do my duty. I sacrifice
Your milk bitter as oleander, I call you Nana.
a suckling infant at home,
I'd rather press my lips to clouds drizzling
over a maze of leaves, engorged veins
buoyant as breath.
feeding insects, giddy with song. Newly born:
Wiggling, you turn from me,
a praying mantis, a monarch sucking fluid from stalks.
obsidian eyes, empty.
Estranged, I refuse to knead your chest,
releasing drops into my half-opened mouth.
crack open this shield.
Indian woman, why won't you remove your mask?
Reorder this life
As moon candles the stars, cradle me
saturated with providence
so I can fold back time and dream my mother
among splashes of rain,
nurses me, her milk—consecrated by a kiss—
spilling from a holy font.
"The Embrace" is available in paperback at amazon.com for about $15.
To learn more about Kreiter-Foronda, including videos of her reading and examples of her art, go to carolynforonda.com.
Memories of life under the sea
Retired Navy submarine officer and Hampton University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Frank Kozusko remembers what it was like to be under the sea for days. He's put those memories into a book of poetry called "Thoughts that surfaced: Poems of a silent service cold warrior." The book, dedicated to Jack Darby, his commanding officer aboard the USS Benjamin Franklin, began to take shape a few years ago after he attended a poetry workshop. Kozusko writes in the introduction, "I try to recall and convey the personal aspects of being in the submarine service during the Cold War…Going to sea is a unique experience. Going to sea in a submarine is an experience most cannot fathom." If you are not familiar with life on a submarine, this book of poetry can help you imagine what it is like in the darkness of the sea.
Among the poems is one called "Night Scope." It includes these lines:
In silent service beneath the waves
We lived in a steel cave
In the darkness of the deep,
Too deep to feel the seas.
Our mission: to be there
And nowhere at the same time,
Undetected, listening, always listening.
One way communication.
Ready for a message we pray will never come.
The book, which costs $10, is available through Kozusko, who can be reached at his email at email@example.com.
William E. Hardison of Newport News is both poet and artist. According to his website, he writes what he terms "homespun" poetry, intended to bring lightness and hope to those experiencing the down side of life. In February he released "Poems for the Heart and Mind." According to the press release, the collection is based "strictly on the fibers and guidelines of high morality and goodwill, dedicated to all people whom believe and practice the good things in the eyes of the loving God and Savior."
Here are a few lines of Hardison's "The Penny Pincher":
There is a well-known "saying"
which refers to all your "dough"—
that you cannot take it with you when you're
called upon to go!
And in this verbal "saying"
which has always proven true,
Is your money will be staying
when your hearse delivers you.
The book is available at amazon.com in print and eBook for about $15 and $8, respectively. You can also buy the print version from the author. Go to billwilly1.wix.com where you can also read more about Hardison and his work.
Upcoming poetry events
The Saturday Poetry Series at the James City County Library in Norge on April 5 features readings from Joan Ellen Casey, Joanne Goode, James Sears, Nancy Schoenberger and Hollis Pruitt. The reading, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11 a.m. in the Kitzinger Community Room.The library is located at 7770 Croaker Road.
On Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m., Claudia Emerson, Virginia's poet laureate from 2008-2010, will read selected works and sign books at the College of William and Mary's Tucker Hall. Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book "Late Wife: Poems." The event is free and open to the public. Information: contact Nancy Schoenberger, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President of Content Marisa Porto contributed to this story.
Price can be reached at 757-247-4745.
Want more poetry?
For information about upcoming poetry readings and open-mic events around Hampton Roads, go to dailypress.com/books and scroll down the page to the Community Calendar. To learn more about Poetry Month, go to poets.org.