Gail Mazur, Eve Grubin, and Gina Franco
Stoddard Hall Auditorium, Smith College
November 13, 2007
A program of the Smith College Poetry Center.
Gail Mazur's poems celebrate the din and detail of ordinary life. With a voice at once whimsical and wholly lucid, Mazur is a poet prone to such utterances as "I'd dislocated my life, so I went to the zoo," though as an observer she is careful "not to equate, for instance,/the lemur's displacement with my displacement." Her 2001 volume They Can't Take That Away From Me was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her most recent volume, Zeppo's First Wife: New and Selected Poems, won the Massachusetts Book Award. A Smith alumna, Mazur has long been active in the Boston and Cambridge literary communities, and currently serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College.
Hailed as "a masterful new voice" by Demetria Martinez, Gina Franco writes fearless poems that refuse to blink before the reader's expectant gaze. Her first collection, The Keepsake Storm brims with long-limbed narratives that amble out of a western landscape to reveal harsh truths: alarming family portraits, decay in the natural world, friends and strangers who dies too soon. Of this poet's tumultuous inner landscape, Rane Arroyo writes, "Gina Franco interprets storms, unscrambles chaos, and honors wounds." And yet, Franco deftly inserts achingly calm moments in the most dramatic scenes, like pinpoints in a dark sky, as when one person writes to another, "How are you doing? How's the weather? Did the rain stop?" An alumna of Smith College, Franco lives in Illinois, where she teaches at Knox College.
Eve Grubin writes lithe and contemplative poems in which ambiguity and gravity meet. "Somebody is closing a gate/or opening one" she writes in the opening poem of her first collection, Morning Prayer. Grubin emplys Jewish mysticism and ritual practice, literary constructs, and the formative rites of youth as vehicles for understanding, "There are mysterious, suspicious fires around words, lines, poems themselves,"writes Stanley Moss. "Her work is dangerous to itself, right as rain." It is this thrilling danger that gives the poems their incessant, humble light. A native of New York and an alumna of Smith, Grubin teaches at the New School University and serves as program director at the Poetry Society of America.