Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Your Typical Poet


"Musings" column from September 3, 2009

Helen Losse is not your typical poet. In fact, she’s not your typical anything. She is a scholar and a NASCAR fan. She is a lover of nature and trains. She is devoutly Christian and fervently liberal. Her poetry is often formal and refined and just as often relaxed and conversational. And perhaps most importantly given her current residence in Winston-Salem, NC, she is fan of both the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the UNC Tarheels.
Losse is the author of three collections of poetry, Gathering the Broken Pieces, Paper Snowflakes, and her newest Better with Friends. Even without her own writing, Losse would be an important figure in the world of Southern poetry. She has been Poetry Editor of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature since 2005 and has striven to promote the work of area poets and the appreciation of poetry in general in every means imaginable. Any regular reader of this column knows how those efforts would make me a big fan.
Losse writes across a wide range of topics but as a scholar of African-American and civil rights history one of her favorite topics is social injustice and the heroes who arise out of the struggle to correct it. Her poems, however, are also full of gorgeous natural imagery that often serves to reveal a deeply meaningful and thoughtful faith. She is, ultimately, a kind woman and poet, the kind anyone fortunate enough to know her or work with her is grateful for.
On Tuesday, October 13, Losse will be in Hickory to share her poetry as part of the Poetry Hickory reading series. The reading will begin at 6:30 PM at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse. The poem reprinted below is from Losse’s latest collection, Better with Friends, which will be available for purchase at Poetry Hickory.

A Satisfied Cathedral

I considered blueberry bushes
yesterday but didn’t buy any. Today it’s
raining hard. And the gloom of winter remains.

My dishwasher will not start, and my computer
monitor makes a high-pitched shriek. I look out
my window toward evergreens, where damp air

is too warm for snow. But even in February,
hope emerges--from the glow of a candle-
flame--and my heart becomes

a Byzantine cathedral of multi-colored tile.
I am bathed in incense and song, satisfied--
for the moment--with indoor light

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