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Bringing Gifts, Bringing News
Fifty Poems Five Lines Each

5 x 9 inches • 72 pages • 150 numbered copies. Edited and hand set in Lydian, Goudy Old Style and Goudy Hand Tooled by George Roberts at DownStairs Press. Printed on Mowhawk Superfine Light Cover. Binding in full cloth over boards by Campbell-Logan Bindery. $75.

In the fall of 2009 it occurred to me the fiftieth anniversary of my writing poems, of once upon a time receiving an invitation into the community of poetry, was approaching. The thrust and thread of my life had been irrevocably altered one evening in October, 1961, when I inadvertently attended a poetry reading by Brother Antoninus (William Everson). I felt some gesture of gratitude in order. Thus, the idea for Bringing Gifts, Bringing News has its beginnings.

I was searching for a way to convey the weight and presence of that community of poets I had spent half a century with, learning about the life of poetry from each. I wrote out a list of fifty mentors, teachers, colleagues and students, all whom I have known and loved and learned from. I composed, with a careful editing eye from my son Andrew, then set and printed an invitation of my own requesting they each write a new five line poem for the anthology taking shape in my mind.  Most accepted right off. A few needed encouragement or cajoling. Two demurred. For those two, and for those no longer among the living, I found five lines poems in their published work and secured permission to reprint.

In March, 2011, the poems all submitted and gathered, the dummy book prepared, the Vandercook SP20 press tuned up, I began printing the poems. Thirteen of the poets came by the studio to set the type for their poems. Then, on October 22nd, fifty years almost to the day after Brother Antoninus dared us to risk poetry, twenty-five of the poets gathered at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis for a celebratory reading. The evening was halcyon. Jim Moore said, “This is like a funeral where nobody died.”

Sample poem from this volume

BRINGING GIFTS, BRINGING NEWS

MUSIC NO MATTER WHERE

Dreaming of places I’ve never been, forested mountain or
Steep beach at low tide, I do not wish to know
Who takes me, I ride.   When voices begin singing, whether
From rain or foam or flame in wind, I listen to these friends
Whose beauty wakes me, no matter where I am.

Roberta Hill

 

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