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Monday, June 25, 2012

READ THIS: Sunken Garden Poetry 1992–2011 Edited by Brad Davis, with an introduction by Mover and Shaker Rennie McQuilkin and Lary Bloom Our Coverage Sponsored by Maine Woolens

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We keep telling you it's not who you know, it's WHOM YOU KNOW, and our most favorite book we saw at BEA was Sunken Garden Poetry!  You may be surprised, as Peachy probably has never written on poetry, however, when you recall that Mover and Shaker Rennie McQuilkin was her English teacher for two fantastic years (sophomore and junior!) and made her really love English class (she hated it freshman year-that year she did not have him), AND TAUGHT HER THAT IT'S NOT WHO YOU KNOW, IT'S WHOM YOU KNOW along with all the other girls, we feel uniquely qualified to comment on this book.  Miss Porter's English Department is certainly missing something without him on board, but today you also should know Mr. McQuilkin is a stellar publisher:

So, the year 1991-92 was the first year Peachy had him as a teacher, and that was also the time that he started this amazing poetry festival in the great town of Farmington, Connecticut.  Organized by year and opening with great photography of The Hill Stead, Sunken Garden Poetry is a book that will bring you to a lovely summer evening, if only in your mind through the pages.

"Baptism" by Rennie (p. 20) will cool you off, and on page 25 you're transported to 164 East 72nd Street by James Merrill.  You know Rollerblading Peachy loved "On Rollerblades" by Carole Stasiowski (p. 27), and we even recall Eamon Grennan being a Prescott Program as we read "Wing Road" on page 87.  Peachy's got the signed copy of "What Light There Is" in her library-that was current at the time.  Irish people are among the very best writers.

We wonder which Kelly is being referred to on p. 108...and we know firsthand how scary public speaking was before we met Rennie.  He did such a great job on Peachy she wound up teaching Public Speaking at Boston College for Dr. Pick, the toughest and best guy in the Communications Department there.  

Jim Daniels is hilarious in "You bring out the boring white guy in me" (p. 162) and as you go through this book, you'll realize that even if you think you are not an advocate of poetry, there is something for everyone.  "Summersick" (p. 190) is appropriate for today's weather and will delight you.  We absolutely adored "Every Person in this Town Loves Football" (just look at Jax!) on page 201, especially since it included nuns.  The colors should be maroon and gold though...

"Undivided Attention" by Taylor Mali (p. 210)  has a terrific lyric quality and finally, one of our favorites was "Barbie Gone Conservative" by Victoria Chen (p. 209).  Barbie-it is ok not to wear sensible shoes!  We refuse to give any more away-you've got to READ THIS.

Mr. McQuilkin, you bring out the English student in Peachy and now the world knows!  Whom You Know highly recommends Sunken Garden Poetry!  Especially because not everyone was lucky enough to be in those English classes...


Sunken Garden Poetry
Edited by Brad Davis, with an introduction by 
Rennie McQuilkin and Lary Bloom 

294 pp. 10 illus. 6 x 9”

$24.95 hardcover, 978-0-8195- 7290-5
$16.95 paperback, 978-0-8195-7291-2

$9.99 ebook, 978-0-8195-7292-9

Publication Date: June 4, 2012

For roughly two decades, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival has welcomed renowned American poets to share their verse on warm, summer evenings at Connecticut’s Hill-Stead Museum. In an effort to nurture the art of poetry and expand its reception, the festival organizers thrive to invite young, emerging poets to participate in the festival, alongside established, internationally-known writers including Billy Collins, Carolyn Forche, Maxine Kumin, Sharon Olds, and Lucille Clifton. Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992–2011 features poems from seasons past, selected to represent the festival’s diversity. 

The anthology illustrates the vibrancy and electricity of evenings in the garden. Once described by two-time Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz as “one of the very best settings for a poetry reading in the whole country,” the Sunken Garden has became a literary paradise that hosts memorable, intimate readings. Whether it is the timely thunderous clap in the midst of a reading, an overhead jet that breathes new allegorical meaning into a Marilyn Nelson poem, or a gentle rain shower that fails to discourage a rapt audience, the festival has, time and time again, proven itself to be capable of uncommon, gentle moments that are not possible at other venues. 

Having established the festival as a living tradition, its organizers now reach beyond its pastoral New England setting with this anthology. The evocative introduction and expansive selection of poets in the book make clear the merit and breadth of the festival as it continues into its 20th year. Contributors span a broad spectrum of contemporary American poetry, revealing the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival as a thriving event that is both a local gem and worthy of note as a national venue. 

Brad Davis teaches creative writing at College of the Holy Cross, and edits Hill-Stead’s online poetry journal Theodate. Poet Rennie McQuilkin and former Northeast Magazine editor Lary Bloom were collaborators in the founding of the poetry festival, and McQuilkin directed the festival for many years.

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