It’s February, a month that brings to mind things like groundhogs and football championships, and later, in the middle of the month, matters of the heart. Regardless of the topic, my thoughts naturally turn to books, and how they might inspire us in our daily lives. Poetry, in particular, can move us with powerful passages written in rhythm and verse. Here are works from two local poets whose words might speak to you.
Poetry explores faith
Chesapeake author Calvert Tynes calls himself a Christian poet. His book, “God’s Love: Spiritual Liberation through the Emancipation of Virtue,” is a series of poems on Tynes’ spiritual journey through the written word. Tynes said he spent more than a decade writing poetry before his book was published in 2011 by Author House. The poem titles themselves give insight into his journey. They begin with “The Answer,” move to “Game of Life,” and progress toward the end with “Thank You.”
The poem “Simple Stone” sets the stage. “So I began to write, and while unleashing the inner essence of me, my soul became in awe of the transportation it was beginning to see, which was the hand of God reaching through a stone, by turning a simple rock into His living stone.” The poem “Grateful” describes a life-changing moment. “I stood in your shoes to embrace your perspective. I did not turn the other cheek. I gave change a chance.” In “Thank You,” the writer reaches toward a clear understanding of God. “When indeed I die, I pray that all I lose is flesh, for it is because of what has grown from my seed that I now know I am blessed.”
The book can be found on amazon.com for $24.99 in hardback and $18.99 in soft cover. A Kindle version is available for $9.99.
A work rich in imagery
“What We Ask of Flesh,” by author Remica L. Bingham, is “the story of women through time, their spirits borne of broke flesh, of the wombs and memories,” according to a press release from publisher Etruscan Press. A native of Arizona, Bingham is the director of writing and faculty development at Old Dominion University. She writes with power, her words striking and rich with imagery.
Bingham’s first poem, “The Body Speaks,” builds the foundation for the poetry that follows. “There is no such work as a woman’s, a wife, a concubine by any other name. Those hands would settle sheep, band cloth and hide, hem. These hands held water for desert thirst, held barley, held.”
Through several sections of the poem it continues with these words: “This is the worse kind of love story. Loving a thing to death until it strangles you. Doesn’t mean that you hate us now – all you’ve inherited, all you’ve become?”
In “Will and Testament,” the author participates in the planning of her own passing, down to the details of where she wants to be buried “near Granddaddy, at the edge of the cemetery by the highway.” She writes: “Send up celebration: marching song wide with arc and bellow—feathered hats lifted, handkerchiefs waving then cast away—a bittersweet opus, clamor and revelry, carrying me from the long road of the boneyard city, past Mama, past grace, on through to any other side.”
Bingham, whose first book, “Conversation,” won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, is a local poet with a strong sense of voice. If you’re interested in learning more about her or her work, she will mark the release of her newest book of poems on Saturday, Feb. 16, at a signing from 3-5 p.m. at the Old Dominion Bookstore. The book is available for $14 at etruscanpress.org.
Daily Press Media Group VP of Content Marisa Porto contributed to this report.
"Poetry at the Crossing" to host Poet Laureate
Mark your calendar for the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21. Virginia's poet laureate, Sofia Starnes, will be reading at The Coffeehouse at Williamsburg Crossing, located at the intersection of Highways 199 and 5 in Williamsburg. The two-hour event (part of the Poetry at the Crossing series) begins at 7 p.m. For additional information, email Mary Haines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks back I wrote about Starnes' "Nearest Poem" project -- an effort to collect favorite poems by readers and publish in an anthology next year. To read more about the project, click here.
Looking for poetry readings by and for local authors? Here are a few coming up in the days ahead:
Feb. 5: Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 Parks Ave., Virginia Beach, 6:30-8:30 p.m. For information, call 622-8721.
- Poetry, Prose and Pizza sponsored by the Suffolk Arts League, 6-8 p.m. at the Suffolk Museum, 118 Bosley Ave., Suffolk. For more information, call the Suffolk Museum at 514-7284.
- Prime Time Poetry Show (open mic for all artists): Bean There Café, 223 E. City Hall Ave., Norfolk, 8-10 p.m.. Call 623-5282 for information.
Feb. 8: Prime Time Poetry Show (open-mic poetry): Bean There Café, 223 E. City Hall Ave., Norfolk, 8-10 p.m. (2nd Friday). There is a $5 cover charge. Call 623-5282 for information.
Feb. 11: Poetry Salon at La Bodega, 22 Wine St., Hampton, 6-8 p.m., every 2nd Wednesday. Call 722-8466 for information.
Feb. 12: Open-Mic Poetry, Aromas at City Center, 706 Town Center Dr., Ste 104, Newport News, 7-9:30 p.m., every 2nd Tuesday. Call 240-4650 for information.
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