What’s the book about?
This book, also published by Finishing Line Press, draws on family lore, photographs, court records, and historical stuff. But at its heart, it’s the story of three women who came of age at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century. One married at thirteen; the other two flaunted convention, marrying young and divorcing young, leaving her toddler child in the care of her ex and his mother. The basic facts are true, but I’ve exercised poetic license!
The poems move from Cumberland, Maryland in its heyday as a vital railroad town, through the Roaring Twenties and into the Fifties, following that toddler who left Cumberland and joined her unconventional mother in Dundalk, and went on to become a teacher and an educational leader back when Baltimore County was rural, a place of working farms and sparsely populated villages. The poems should appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those familiar with Western Maryland, Dundalk, and Baltimore ,
When the Poet isn’t Rupi or Billy Collins…
For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of small literary presses–writers don’t receive royalties, but instead are “paid” in copies of the books. The number of author copies is directly tied to pre-orders. Thus, if a book generates 100 preorders, the author will receive 25 copies she can sell at readings or when buyers contact her directly. If there are 150 pre-orders the author receives 50 free copies, and so on. I’m hoping for 150 pre-orders–or more!
Support Poetry and Support Mercy High, Baltimore!
As with my first poetry collection, I will be donating proceeds from the sales of those 50 –or 75!- author’s copies to scholarship and development funds at Mercy High School Baltimore, my alma mater, a school with grades 9-12 that educates girls of diverse backgrounds. As the Mercy website says, “Our students come from across central Maryland and our work reflects a commitment to hospitality, service, justice and compassion.” So by supporting my poetry and pre-ordering, you support this worthy educational institution.
Thanks, friends, family, and readers!
The gray cat keeps watch by the window, staring at a sunless day.
Her head turns, ears on alert, when two juncos alight on the deck.
The Christmas tree’s colored lights garish in the morning.
Half-drunk bottles of cabernet litter the kitchen counter,
red carnations in the table settings have gone limp.
Please don’t ask about the children, no longer children, now men,
back at their own digs. We’ve haven’t heard from them
since they packed up their gifts and the leftovers in plastic tubs.
They could be sleeping all, day, or filling out job applications,
or heaving weights at the gym. Might be watching You Tube,
how to cook favorite foods of The Wire. Any hope
of grandchildren on the horizon is misguided, don’t ask about that, either.
Extreme climate: eight degrees at eight a.m. The President
won’t stop tweeting. I watch the juncos, brave against the cold.
Originally published in the South Florida Poetry Journal, January 2018 issue
You can pre-order my new poetry collection , The Glamorganshire Bible, from Finishing Line Press by March 23! $13.99. Proceeds from author’s copies in lieu of royalties go to Mercy High School, Baltimore, MD, for scholarship and development funds.
You can order the book from Finishing Line press.
Wax like burnt sugar
It’s a round pregnant belly with
white mold-like coating,
a scoop dug out of
the heavy bottom,
a thread of black umbilical cord
it sits on a
saucer of Portuguese crockery.
Reprinted from Punting, Origami Poems Project, January 2018. Download the chapbook and assemble it!
I wrote this last winter, when our dear friend was undergoing yet another cancer treatment. He had done well after a stem cell transplant procedure, but a year later the cancer returned. The poem was my way of expressing my helplessness, and the waiting to hear news of how he was faring with this treatment, which I knew very little about until I did some research into it.
There’s a dispute in your blood,
Red cells against the white.
You’re in no shape to talk.
We’re playing your music,
it fills the living room.
You’re having another procedure—
it spills out unpronounceable names.
They’re taking the white from your blood.
Leucocytes, they’re taking you into custody,
so the capillaries can do their job, submit
to collection, centrifugation, spinning.
The basophils (Greek, basis, philein, to love),
the polymorphonuclear leukocytes,
those feisty granular immune cells,
the eosinophils, who so love eosins, the acid dyes,
that they embrace their stain, must be silent.
The rest of us, here at home this February day
do what we can. We wait,
wait, from Old French, guaiter,
wait and watch over.
Originally published in Punting, Origami Poems Project, Copyright 2018
And a pair of old shorts I found
in your closet, threads dangling from
the disintegrating khaki fabric.
I sleep on my back at night, careful not
to disturb the pillow on your side of the bed.
In the morning I’m unpracticed at making coffee,
Stumbling through the task, forgetting the filter,
or remembering the filter, forgetting the filter basket.
Your hat, the one you bought for hiking hills in Sicily,
fits me perfectly. I look like
an Australian crocodile wrassler,
or maybe the Marlboro man, though
your hat has a chin strap and a toggle.
Vents above the brim let in the sweet morning air.
Your hat smells like you, the sweatband
Exudes the scent of your soap and your shaving cream.
When you come back I’ll happily surrender the hat,
Strands of my hair stuck fast to its woven fibers.
originally published in January 2017, in Punting, Origami Poems Project
Advance reviews :
The Glamorganshire Bible is written in lines of free but measured verse, plain as daylight, plain as truth. It invents Viti’s ancestors and their places and situations, what they did and didn’t do. The writing verifies what it invents. I can hear the sound a coffee cup makes as it descends upon its saucer. I know that Chevy was green and white. I know how that mother leaned to look into the mirror. That’s how she looked. It’s true.
–David Ferry, Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College
In this compelling and cinematic suite of poems, Lynne Viti shows us women who attempt to untie the strictures and circumstances that would confine and define them. Here are finely wrought details in vivid interlocking narratives. Here is a genealogy of initial pregnant silences, insistent voices of the past, and astute perceptions of the present.
—Danielle Legros Georges, Poet Laureate, City of Boston
The wages of time–remembrance and oblivion, place names and lost motives–come to graceful life in these poems. The impulse is commemorative; the tone, at once lingering and alert, speaks for days that must add up to something–and sometimes do.
–Baron Wormser, Maine Poet Laureate emeritus, 2000 – 2006
Lynne Viti’s poems transport us to another place and time, into the beauty and desperation of a western Maryland railroad town a century ago. She mends the “broken kaleidoscope” of memory through the power of her own imagination, channeling the voice of “our grandma, young and wild” who became a wife and mother far too soon. The story grips us, and words rend our hearts as Viti chronicles three generations of women seeking love, escape, freedom, and connections with one another.
—Erin Royston Battat, Visiting Professor, The Writing Program,Wellesley College
The Glamorganshire Bible is a journey back to a childhood where coal mines, railroad depots, adultery, drinking binges, supper of “bread soaked in milk,” churches, two-dollar dresses and desertion are only some of the hard-core, radioactive elements in these remarkable, gritty poems. Viti’s skill at crafting poetry out of wreckage and pain without sentiment is superb.
–Lenny Della Rocca, Co-founder, South Florida Poetry Journal