New Tibbetts book for Poetry Month

By Dagney C. Ernest | Apr 01, 2019
Elizabeth Tibbetts

Hope — Award-winning Midcoast poet Elizabeth Tibbetts has a new collection out this National Poetry Month, and she will be presenting it at several local venues. “Say What You Can” is published by Deerbrook Editions, a Maine independent literary press.

Tibbetts grew up in Camden and has lived in Hope for the past 30 years. Her first book, “In the Well,” won the Bluestem Poetry Award. Other awards include the Penobscot Watershed Poetry Prize; and a fellowship and grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

Tibbetts’ poems have been read on “Writer's Almanac” and “Maine's Poems from Here”; and have appeared in journals such as The American Scholar, Beloit Poetry Journal and Prairie Schooner, to name a few. Her poems also appear in “Maine in Four Seasons” and “Take Heart: More Poems from Maine,” both from Down East Books.

“I'm a nurse, but have always written,” she said, and her poetry reflects keen observation of both the endangered natural world and its frail human inhabitants. The new collection includes many poems that mark the intersection of both, such as “Still Here,” in which the writer, in the midst of a neighborly dinner party, retreats to the kitchen …

 

“for more bread. There, through the window,

a sweep of damp air and wild spring calls

of peepers and wood frogs rushed in

like the Holy Ghost and made me pause …”

 

This place, Maine, and time provide the setting for many of the new book’s poems, which speak of both rural living and hospital shift realities. But Guatemala and reflections on the past appear, as well as hopes and fears for the future. The paperback’s title comes from a poem, “All the Words,” that weaves all these threads together, concluding:

 

Say what you can, not what you want to, my teacher says

As though he thinks, can see, that’s how I’ve spent my life.”

 

Tibbetts will read from her books, as well as poetry from others, including Kate Barnes, Maine’s first poet laureate and a close friend and mentor, during a book launch celebration Sunday, April 14, at 2 p.m. at the  Camden Public Library. On Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m., Tibbetts will read with Betsy Sholl, Jeffrey Thompson and Richard Foerester at the Portland Public Library. And she is part of the Farnsworth Art Museum’s lineup of National Poetry Month presenters, reading Tuesday, April 30, at 2 p.m. in the Rockland museum’s library; fee is $10 and includes gallery admission.

For more information about Tibbetts’ new book, visit deerbrookeditions.com/say-what-you-can.

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