The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene hosts
in conversation with Alice B. Fogel IN-PERSON
Girl as Birch
In Girl as Birch, Gibson mimics the flexible (adaptable? too pliant? healthily, if secretly, resilient, then, finally, aligned) motion of a birch in strong wind, as it relates to the options seemingly available to her, growing up as a girl. The poems imitate in form the experiences they evoke. The leitmotifs of red, birches, mirrors, walls enclosing gardens, labyrinths as metaphors for constraint, recur throughout the book. Without being a manifesto, Girl as Birch explores female gender roles with both pliant and uprising imagery and action. Restriction and rebellion, silence and speech, appearance and artifice, passion and repression, the past and being present, buffet and embolden the speaker of these poems. The elastic and varied syntax, pace, music, and the use of rhetoric and wit express deft self-examination. The book moves from serial impressionistic poems of early childhood to discrete lyric poems of memory and experience and on to a sense of emotional, social, spiritual evolution, not resolution.
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson is the author of Opinel (Bauhan Publishing, 2015) and two chapbooks, Admit the Peacock and Inside the Exhibition. A recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, The Heinrich Böll Cottage in Ireland, and the 2008 Fellowship in Poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, she was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach poetry in Hyderabad, India, in 2011. She is founder and director of The Loom, Poetry in Harrisville, a poetry reading series. Her poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal; Agni; Field; The Greensboro Review; Green Mountain Review; The Harvard Review; Ocean State Review; Poems2Go; Salamander; Slate; The Poetry Porch; The Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art; The Tupelo Quarterly, been featured on Verse Daily, and included in two anthologies, Cadence of Hooves, and The Best of Tupelo Press 30/30 Project's First Year. Gibson previously taught poetry at Tufts University for 23 years. She lives in Marlborough, New Hampshire.
Alice B Fogel served as the New Hampshire poet laureate from 2104 through 2019. Her latest poetry collection is Nothing But, a series of poems responding to Abstract Expressionist art and its effect on our consciousness. Two of her previous books are A Doubtful House and Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” which won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and the 2016 NH Literary Award in Poetry. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, among other awards, she is also the author of Strange Terrain, on how to appreciate poetry even if you don’t “get” it. She works one-on-one with students with learning differences at Landmark College in Putney, VT, and hikes mountains whenever possible.