With the powerful voices of about 100 poets– many poets laureate from the US and abroad–it is large, it contains multitudes of perspectives from teachers, doctors, patients, parents, victims of racial strife during a historic and traumatic time.
“If you want to know the year 2020, come listen to its poets who are ably represented in this valuable and diverse collection. It is they who have understood that to know the present, we must examine the small manifestations, not only the great. These poets serve as harbingers and witness to the essential truths of our time; their poems serve as snapshots we need to commit to memory, and even, perhaps, as early warning of possible dangers yet to come.”
Writer-Residence, Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
Copyright 2020 Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
186 pages $20
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Walt Whitman Birthplace
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“Anew from Sheet after Sheet of Self”: Teller’s Dark and Light Lens
“Take a walk with empathy down our block and through our lives– that’s what these poems invite us to do. The poet here strolls through the past and present, hers and ours in contemporary America, in what one poems terms “naked security,” an oxymoron summing up Ms. Teller’s poetic art. “Walking is remodeling,” another poem tells us, demanding a re-seeing of thee familiar, new ways of looking at personal and public histories, “poised on alertness’s edge.” The book’s first poem invites the reader to look through the poet’s “lens on humanity” where one can see the “strangely familiar, as looking out/ is looking in.” That’s the rhythm of this whole collection of poems registering Teller’s lifetime’s dedication to poetry and to observing big and small, whether it be “the organic ooze of this vast forest” or the different ways people put dishes in a dishwasher. “The braided currents” of subject and object, regret and wonder, and life and death, flow through these adroit poems drawn from the previous books with eighteen new poems included. The “throbbing crossbreed/ of the generations’ melodies” plays throughout. “Surrender and hope” can be found in every poem as in the poem where this phrasing is found regarding “the small kindness” of a neighbor who carries his arthritic dog to the park, or in the poem that begins in both affirmation and denial: “I forgive you, God for not existing.” Above all, Teller’s writings are alive– “a nasal wildness/ through the soft fleshy home/ where my words live.” “Like a call from someone in the past,” the poems ask us to look closely, taking nothing for granted, trying to fathom, “all those shifting shadows/ shimmying out from our bodies.” A wonderful book to read and re-read!”
Anthony DiMatteo, author of FISHING FOR FAMILY (Kelsay Books, 2019)
“With imagery and word-energy to race forward the heart, a poet’s mind for human endeavor and capacity is amazing. Gayl Teller’s FLASHLIGHT makes this point again and again by pushing the book’s brilliant and emotional effort to detail personal histories that crack-open the realities of the best and worst moments of a living life. The impact is heart-thumping. The vast range of history is embedded in the intimate search to know, to attempt to bring full clarity to daily events no matter their scale. How often did this book push me to limits of thought, or open up new vistas for exploration! How often did I feel my humanity challenged, or plainly brought into question! This is one beautiful book of writing. But more impressively: of engagement.”
Denis Gray, author of A LIFE TO REMEMBER (iUniverse, 2019)
Toward Forgiveness began with the “Poetry of Forgiveness Workshop and Anthology Project,” which catalyzed participants’ stirring and personal revelations, cathartic sharing, and original poems, with ripples of those heartfelt dialogues spreading out across the Island’s flowing poetry venues…. Ninety-nine poets, including five Long Island poet laureates are in this moving and important anthology…. If anger and revenge are inherent in our psyches, … these poems are testaments that the thirst and strength for forgiveness are inherent in our psyches, too, and the heroism of world peace is inherent in each ordinary human heart (from the Preface, Gayl Teller).
“Forgive and forget” may work for some, but for others it is just alliterative nonsense. The poems in this anthology, lovingly and giftedly edited by Gayl Teller, range in emotion from therapeutic to spiritual, from humorous to enraged. This is a rare chance to read through a true spectrum–a veritable textbook–of human emotions (Dr. David Axelrod).
This project is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. The Decentralization Program is administered by the Huntington Arts Council, Inc.
These poems are rich and full, dense with life as it is lived by a daughter, wife, mother, woman, poet. Ranging from her son’s pull-over sweater to the structure of the universe, with stops on the way for politics and current events, her vision is broad and deep, informed by compassion for the human condition and salted by irony and wry wit. She is prodigal with language, as if there never could be an end to her treasure-hoard of words, perhaps because she so often distills a Russian-novel’s-worth of family love-hate relations into poems of half a dozen pages each…Her diction and rhythms are as varied as her subjects and forms, ranging from the colloquial to the musical, from the narrative to the lyric voice. It is a great pleasure to see Gayl Teller emerge.
Founding Editor, Spring
The poems are always under the poet’s control. The clue to the idea of the poems is in the volume’s title–especially the word intersection. Things come and go; Teller acknowledges them and directs them…. With their connections and movements, the poems are complex. For Teller, intersections are places of the fullness and meaning of life.
The Small Press Book Review
Gayl Teller’s stunning collection of 45 powerful poems is on the whole about close relatives, but most reflective of life in a complicated family of rugged individuals…. Much is metaphor, competent, well deserving of reading…. I enthusiastically recommend this book.
Each word is just the right word, the shapes are in the right geometrical forms…. The book contains award-winning poems…. With patience the shield drops and the reality punctures.
Woman Library Workers Journal
These poems have much to offer the reader…. All of the poems are filled with a crush of images and events. It is a multiplicity the poet uses in the search for a unifying center…. Gayl Teller is working from an unusually clear philosophical point of view which gives her book substance.
Long Island Poetry Collective Newsletter
Teller’s work resists characterization because of her flexibility…. Here is a voice of exploration and wonder, able to find things to write about in a dinner being made or the end of a Jewish life or the structure of the universe. Her portraits of tangled emotional family lives are done with surgical skill, encapsulating all the past interactions between people into just a few lines. Strong and simple works worth reading.
“Fusion and Fire” Review of Selected and New Poems, 1980-90 by Kathleen Iddings. Small Press Review, November 1991.
“Dark Theaters” Review of The Counting of Grains by Joan LaBombard (Winner of 1989 American Book Series) and Yarrow Field by Regina McBride (Winner of 1990 American Book Series. Small Press Review, April 1992.
“Luminous Shadows” Review of The Only Cure I Know by Charles Atkinson and Hometown, USA by Michael Cleary (American Book Series Winners, 1991-2).
“Living Journey” Review of The Winter Watch of the Leaves by Joan LaBombard. Small Press Review, September 1993.
“Poetry’s Inebriate Freedom” Review of Someone Had to Live by Kevin Griffith. Small Press Review, November 1994.
“A Stay Against the Demons” Review of Walpurgis Nights by Joan Cofrancesco. Small Press Review, January 1994.
“The Conscious Pilot” Review of Look for a Field to Land by Elaine Preston. Small Press Review, accepted for publication.
“The Light Between lens and Shadow” Review of From May Sarton’s Well, Selection and Photographs by Edith Royce Schade. Small Press Review, accepted for publication.
“Variations on the Mask” Review of The Garden Where All Loves End by Melissa Morphew and Spare Changeby Kevin Pilkington. Small Press Review, January-February 1998.
“Resist Distance” Review of Rings of Saturn by Kathleen Iddings. Small Press Review, September-October 1998.
“In the Moment” Review of Cat bones in the Tree by Joan Cofrancesco. Small Press Review, November-December 1998.
“A Bond by Blue Coincidence” Review of The Poetry of Cornelius Eady. Poetry Bay, Online Poetry Magazine, 2000.
Review of Crazy Jane by Pat Falk. Book/Mark, Winter-Spring 2010.
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