Staring Too Closely

Book Review by George Longenecker

With masterful poetry and poignant imagery, Erika Nichols-Frazer dares to write powerfully personal verse. In “Warming Up” her wood fire is an extended metaphor for the pain of an ectopic pregnancy. She says “I don’t have words for how it hurts,” yet her words make pain alive for the reader:

      I hunch into myself, become as small as I can, try to get warm.
      The fire’s being chewed out from the inside too.

She says in “Post-Op,” “I come from women who know how to hurt, / how to bear weight far greater than their own.” In “Mother’s Day, 2013” she writes of the personal pain of a day far from perfect. In her doubt and weeping she shows us love and forgiveness at their best.

     My heart breaks every day

     On my way back to work from my second visit of the day
     I see a sign outside a flower shop that says

     Mother’s Day Is Coming
     Is Your Mother Special? Buy Her Flowers!

     And cry so hard I have to pull over.

In “Deer Season” she ponders her ambivalence about the annual hunting ritual. “A body hangs, hooked, from the neighbors shed/ A flash of red and bone-shiny insides/…A reminder that I do not belong here.”

“The List” was written before the latest war, about the 2014 school massacre in Pakistan, yet it could be any of the many wars and school shootings so far this century. Good poets focus on personal tragedy, and leave analysis to news media. The list tells it all. However, it might have been good to have a brief footnote about the place and date of this horrific event.

      148 names are tacked to the wall
      in lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

      148 names too fresh for headstones
      memorialized only on a sheet of paper
      daring the crowd of parents to look.

These are personal poems about mind, body and loved ones. These are views from the poet’s window but also of a prescient world view. Erika Nichols-Frazer has done well on her journey to master poetry and her inner self. These poems are consistently well- crafted. Let the poet have the final word in her title poem, “Staring Too Closely:”

      Pilfer pockets for leftover time.
      In the hours escorting dawn to doorstep,
      the low frequency tremors hum in new light,
      claiming to be as they appear,
      their scent foreign to the morning.

~George Longenecker,

Poetry Society of Vermont Past President

Staring Too Closely cover

Staring Too Closely
Erika Nichols-Frazer
Main Street Rag (2023) poetry
ISBN 978-1-59948-970-4 54 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Vermont Poet Laurette

Reminder: Nominations open until October 30, 2023

Please share this post with your networks as the deadline to submit nominations is coming soon.

Vermont Poet Laureate graphic

The Vermont Arts Council along with its partners, Vermont HumanitiesPoetry Society of Vermont and Sundog Poetry invite you to submit nominations for the appointment of a new Vermont Poet Laureate. 

Serving as Vermont’s ambassador for the art of poetry, the Poet Laureate is not only honored for their own work and accomplishments but can raise awareness and a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.

All nominations are welcome, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, cultural heritage, socio-economic background, physical ability, or poetic sub-genre in the pursuit of the Poet Laureate being representative of the rich and diverse cultures of poetry in the State of Vermont. Self-nominations are also eligible.

For more information about the Vermont Poet Laureate position, criteria and selection process, and the online nomination form, visit the Vermont Poet Laureate webpage.

Nomination Deadline: Oct. 30, 2023

Poetry Collaborators logos
T.W.Wood Gallery logo

I am not the poet, I am the poem

writing workshop with Karen Morris

award-winning poet and psychoanalyst

invites you to her weekly workshop based on themed prompts that emerge from out of the format of the social dreaming matrix that will begin each session. Technique, developing voice, and revision skills will be the focus of the class. T. W. Wood Museum, Montpelier, VT, beginning on Monday, October 23, 2023 and each Monday until November 13, 2023, 1:30 – 3:00pm. $25. per class.

Continue Reading I am not the poet, I am the poem
rabbit&wolf events

Rabbit & Wolf Events

Poetry at The Front is this week, Thursday, 10/19 from 6:30-8pm. Our featured reader is Sarah Birgé and because our second reader cannot make it, I will be weaving in some selections and favorites throughout the evening. It’s going to be different than usual, come check it out!

rabbit&wolf will be at Another Way on Friday 11/10 from 5-6:30pm for an open mic that will coincide with their community dinner. This is open to the wider community and it’s really great to have folks come in and read that don’t normally spend any time there.

Continue Reading Rabbit & Wolf Events
Spooky Queer Poetry Night Rabbit&Wolf

Rabbit&Wolf Spooky Queer Poetry Night

Poetry Society of Vermont is happy to share the following news & updates from PSOV Member Robyn Joy at Rabbit & Wolf

Rabbit&Wolf Spooky Queer Poetry Night (open mic) at Fox Market and Bar is on Friday the 13th!!! I encourage you to come as you see yourself, dig into your inner you, get as wild or as tame as you feel. And bring a poem or two to share while you’re at it. It’s been getting packed and I imagine that will continue. Sign-ups open at 6:30. We’ll start at 7 with a featured reader for the first 10 minutes.

Continue Reading Rabbit&Wolf Spooky Queer Poetry Night