Thursday, November 16, 2017

In the Woods with Naomi Replansky

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
For Bea and Edith with love, Naomi.

They walked in the world together
And came to the end of play.
Each of them clung to the other
And each pushed the other away.

That forest was not so scary
And two should be warmer than one.
But each was so scared of the other,
They shivered in spite of the sun.

And each so resembled each other,
Fear saw only its twin.
Neither could harbor the other,
Though skin touched answering skin.

Then they stood and swore at each other
To stop that trembling inside,
Till a chill came forth from their bodies
all the leaves that touched them died.

The birds flew off with the crumbs,
Thundercloud rolled overhead,
And at last each fled from the other.
In grief and relief they fled.

— Naomi Replansky

The chapbook, Twenty-One Poems, Old and New by Naomi Replansky was another find at the Westbeth Flea Market this past weekend in New York. There was something about this slender volume of poems that spoke to us. We came to learn that Ms Replansky is still writing and reciting her poetry at 99 years young.

From the back cover of Twenty-One Poems, Old and New, "Naomi Replansky was born in the Bronx, New York. Her first book, Ring Song, published by Scribner in 1952, was nominated for the National Book Award that year and went out of print shortly thereafter. The book has gained an underground reputation over the years."

Published in 1988, Twenty-One Poems, Old and New is a selection of 10 poems from Ring Song and 11 from Dangerous World. The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934-1994 (Another Chicago Press 1994) was followed by Collected Poems (Black Sparrow Press/Godine 2012) which won the Poetry Society of America's 2013 William Carlos Williams Award and was a finalist for the 2014 Poets' Prize.

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