Highlighted by The Frost Place
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Meet Our October Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: 
Patrick Donnelly 

Highlighted by The Frost Place

Patrick Donnelly is poet laureate of Northampton MA, director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place and an associate editor of Poetry International. His books are The Charge (Ausable Press / Copper Canyon Press, 2003) and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Slate, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. In 2013 he received a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program award, to fund a 3-month residency in Japan during 2014. With Stephen D. Miller, Donnelly is co-translator of the Japanese poems in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013), which won the the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University. More at patrickdonnellypoems.com
Poetic Profession  “The great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova wrote a poem in which she was asked by a woman with whom she was waiting in a long line outside a prison where their loved ones were being held ‘Can you describe this?’ Her reply was: ‘And I said: I can.’ Recently I was asked during a Q&A what leads me, on any given day, to try to make a poem. ‘Trouble,’ is what I said. Many of the world’s most beautiful poems are made to address an ache that can only be assuaged by describing it precisely.”    —Patrick Donnelly
Daylight Has Been Saved By Time Again 

                   and now the late April 
of the second summer of my fifties is already beginning to burn. 
                   GET UP AND EARN 
SOME MONEY is what that light, too much light, says, and also 
                   MILLIONS OF PEOPLE 
HAVE BEEN UP FOR HOURS. I know they have, they always have, 
                   every time I keep 
an appointment at eight I am astonished at the number of people 
                   already on the road.
You lie lazy and came late to every phase, a voice like my old father’s
                   seems to allege. 
“But,” I want to argue with the light, “though I came late, I came.” 
                   There were years
in the 90s when it looked like I’d rush from spring to winter, 
                   with the rest of my brothers
of the bars and baths and groves of reeds crushed into mazes.
                   Then I circled back 
to have late spring, a real adolescence, even as others were wiping 
                   their mouths of that meal. 
Is it greedy then to request late summer, even early autumn? 
                   To ask for a harvest, the wheat
ground so fine you could hold bread to the light and read through it?
                   Now summer and the work 
of that light begin to press down like a kind of war on the earth, 
                   and the real war lowers over us 
its magnifying glass, and O my brothers of the bars and baths 
                   and groves of reeds crushed into mazes, 
who ate metal when the wood ought to have been green and then sank 
                   under the frozen water:
let me rise to work, because there’s too much light to sleep.

 
previously published in Poetry International

The Frost Place honors the legacy of Robert Frost by preserving Frost’s former home as a house-museum for poets and poetry. In addition, The Frost Place encourages the creation and appreciation of poems by offering annual poetry programs in Franconia, NH as well as running two national competitions: an artist residency and a chapbook publication.

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.
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