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People and Their Poems

People and Their Poems

Author: Sandy Carlson

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People and Their Poems is a podcast about the poems that make a difference in our world. In each episode, I'll talk with a person who has been influenced by poetry and become a poet or a supporter of this literary form. We'll learn about the poems or lyrics that became their mentors or their muses as they have explored the world of the poem. And we'll hear the poems of the poets who are our neighbors.

My name is Sandy Carlson, and I will be your host. I am a member of the Connecticut Poetry Society as well as poet laureate of Woodbury, Connecticut.
38 Episodes
For 22 years, Margaret Hunt was a high school English teacher.  Currently, she is a student teacher evaluator for the Alternate Route to Certification. She also teaches a GED prep course to adult learners. Margaret holds a BA from Smith College, and an MAT from Columbia Teachers College. A lifelong amateur and professional canoe racer and wilderness canoe paddler, Margaret is a contributing writer for the My Musings blog on the Friends of Topsmead State Park website.  Margaret started a poetry club when she taught at Torrington High School. She also created and taught courses in creative writing and poetry at Pomperaug High School.   EPISODE EXTRAS Dana Gioia Introduction to Poetry - Billy Collins How to Eat a Poem - Eve Merriam --- Send in a voice message:
Sandy Carlson, poet laureate of Woodbury, Conn., talks nature poetry with Tom Nicotera and Sherri Bedingfield. Sheryll (Sherri) Bedingfield is a family therapist, psychotherapist, and a counselor with the Youth & Family Resource Center. She is the proud mother of two sons and twin grandsons. She has two poetry collections, Transitions & Transformations (Antrim House, 2010) and The Clattering, Voices from Old Forfarshire, Scotland (Grayson). Read more about Sherri here. Tom Nicotera has taught poetry classes and workshops in Washington, D.C., and in Maryland. In Connecticut, Tom ran a poetry series at Susan's Cafe in Granby, and for 25 years was involved as cofounder/coordinator of the Bloomfield Library's Wintonbury Poetry Series. He was editor of Charter Oak Poets II, an anthology of Hartford area poets, and was on the organizing committee for the 2001 Connecticut Poetry Festival at Middlesex Community College. For several years, he was a mentor for the student poetry collaboration between the American School for the Deaf and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He has a book of poems titled What Better Place To Be Than Here? , and he has published poems in various journals, magazines, and anthologies. “Nathan Hall State Forest” previously appeared in Woodlands, the magazine of the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association. --- Send in a voice message:
Sandy Carlson, poet laureate of Woodbury, Conn., visits with Vyacheslav (Slava) Konoval, a Ukrainian poet and lawyer whose creative works have been translated into six languages. A writer of poetry for the past two years, Slava's poems have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines and anthologies. He is a member of the Scottish Writer's Federation and has a wide interest in the arts. EPISODE EXTRAS Slava on All Poetry Slava on Linked-In Slava's reading in "Poetry of Struggle and Solidarity" (Takoma Park City TV) Slava's reading in War Art Project for Ukraine Slava Konoval reads his poem ДО ВОДИ (Trukhaniv’s Island) with The Allingham Arts Festival Ukrainian Poet Slava Konoval - Translatit Intae Scots - with the Scots Language Centre Learn more about Sandy as a local poet laureate and learn more about the People and Their Poems podcast. --- Send in a voice message:
Rick Magee, poet laureate of Bethel, Conn., and an English professor at Sacred Heart University, grew up in California and moved to the East Coast to work on his PhD. His wife Rebecca is also an English professor, and their son Cormac wants to be a writer when he grows up. Rick has published in a variety of online journals and has just recently signed with a publisher for his poetry chapbook. EPISODE EXTRAS VIDEO: An Evening with New Connecticut Poet Laureates - Ridgefield Library Opinion: Proud members of the Cool Weirdos Club Opinion: My son taught me how to write life’s next act Opinion: People think they hate poetry, but aren’t we all poets? --- Send in a voice message:
Chris Gaffney is a stay-at-home dad to a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy residing in Wolcott, Connecticut, where he also serves on the board of education. Chris has won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ award for best humor column in its category (2019) and served as a keynote speaker at the National At-Home Dad Network’s annual convention (2022), where he presented a talk titled “What Do You Do All Day? Sharing Your Story with Authenticity and Humor.” Currently, he is working on a book called Baby Bump: Poems for and About Expectant Parents. This is the cornerstone of Chris’s initiative to get fathers involved with their childrens’ development at the earliest possible moment in their child’s development. EPISODE EXTRAS Chris Read His Work National At-Home Dad's Network --- Send in a voice message:
Listen as Sandy Carlson, poet laureate of Woodbury, Conn. (,) talks with Nicole Caruso Garcia, whose full-length debut poetry collection is Oxblood (Able Muse Press, 2022). Oxblood was named a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award and the Richard Wilbur Award. Educated at Fairfield University, Nicole holds a BA in English and Religious Studies. After seven years in the corporate sector, she earned her MS in Education from the University of Bridgeport and taught English at Trumbull High School for fifteen years. Nicole's poetry appears in Best New Poets, Light, Mezzo Cammin, ONE ART, Plume, Rattle, RHINO, and elsewhere. Garcia serves as associate poetry editor at Able Muse and as an executive board member at Poetry by the Sea, an annual poetry conference in Madison, Conn. EPISODE EXTRAS Nicole Caruso Garcia Poetry by the Sea Light, a Journal of Light Verse Wonder Woman as a Rap Star Able Muse Poets Triple Book-Launch Event One Art: A Journal of Poetry --- Send in a voice message:
Jack Powers taught high school special education, English and writing for 38 years. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2014 and 2013 Rattle Poetry Prizes. Jack earned MFAs in fiction and poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University.  He has two poetry collections: Everybody's Vaguely Familiar (2019) and Still Love (2023).  Jack has published scores of poems in various journals, including Rattle, The Cortland Review, and The Southern Review.  EPISODE EXTRAS Jack Powers Website Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking Connecticut Writing Project Hudson Valley Writers Center Everybody's Vaguely Familiar by Jack Powers on Amazon --- Send in a voice message:
John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. John’s poems have been widely published and have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, Praxis, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Caribbean Writer, Blue Mountain Review, Rust + Moth, Tar River, Poetlore, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appears widely in Italy, including in El Ghibli, The Journal of Italian Translations, Bonafini, Poetarium, and others. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Literature and Belief, Evening Street, Praxis, and others. EPISODE EXTRAS John L. Stanizzi on The Poetry Foundation Article on Combustus Brainwaves Video Anthology, featuring three John Stanizzi poems John Stanizzi books on Amazon --- Send in a voice message:
Julie Cook lives in Woodbury, Connecticut, where she is a poet, musician, and music teacher. She has been writing poetry and making music ever since she was a child, playing on the piano her musician father bought for her and her sister. Julie is a member of the Orenaug Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society. She is also a member of Feminina Melodia and Music for People. Episode Extras Julie's website Music for People --- Send in a voice message:
Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Deborah Nash Ott holds a Masters of Education in Secondary Education, English. She taught for 35 years in the US and abroad. She has led writers' workshops in Bern, Switzerland, and edited the annual creative writing journal Voices for East Granby High School. Deb has published in various small presses. The poetry volume Twin Soul is Deb's collaborative work with Welsh poet Heather Gatley. Her novella Canopy is part of the Connecticut Indie Book Project, published in the Connecticut Bard Review in 2022. She also published a children's book with artist Helen Galick in 2016. Currently she is working on Solid Miss, her first solo collection of poetry. EPISODE EXTRAS Deborah Nash Ott’s books on Amazon Deborah Nash Ott on Facebook --- Send in a voice message:
Patricia Lee Lewis has led more than 70 creative writing and yoga retreats in 10 countries and hundreds of creative writing workshops and retreats in the US--mostly at Patchwork Farm Retreat on a little mountain in Westhampton, Massachusetts.  Patricia holds a BA from  Smith College and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Poetry. She has published an award-winning chapbook of poems, A Kind of Yellow, as well as High Lonesome,  a full book of poems. Other publications include a variety of feature articles and photographs on "inner and outer" experiences as a traveler and individual poems in a variety of journals and anthologies over the years. Patricia says, “I've lived a long and active life in grass roots politics, advocating for civil rights, women's rights, peace, social justice.”. EPISODE EXTRAS Patricia Lee Lewis Books on Amazon Mary Ruefle Mary Oliver Billy Collins Pat Schneider Caroline Forché Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop Writers Retreats --- Send in a voice message:
Antoinette Brim-Bell of West Haven is Connecticut’s eighth poet laureate. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections: These Women You Gave Me, Icarus in Love, and Psalm of the Sunflower. She is a Cave Canem Foundation Fellow and an alumna of Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). Antoinette will be a featured guest at Woodbury Public Library’s Celebrating Poetry day on April 29.  EPISODE EXTRAS Antoinette Brim-Bell's website Celebrating Poetry Day - Woodbury Public Library - April 2 Antoinette Brim-Bell - The Poetry Foundation Capital Community College --- Send in a voice message:
Laurel S. Peterson is a community college English professor whose poetry has been published in many literary journals. She has two poetry chapbooks--That’s the Way the Music Sounds (Finishing Line) and Talking to the Mirror (Last Automat)--as well as two full-length collections–Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? and Daughter of Sky (Futurecycle). She has also written two mystery novels, Shadow Notes and The Fallen (Woodhall). Laurel is on the editorial board of Inkwell magazine, and the Norwalk Public Library Board. Laurel served as Norwalk's poet laureate from April 2016 to April 2019. EPISODE EXTRAS Laurel Peterson website Laurel Peterson on Amazon --- Send in a voice message:
Melissa Studdard is the author of five books, including the poetry collections Dear Selection Committee and I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, the poetry chapbook Like a Bird with a Thousand Wings, and the young adult novel Six Weeks to Yehidah. Her work has been featured by NPR, PBS, The New York Times, The Guardian, Ms. Magazine, and Houston Matters, and has also appeared in a wide variety of periodicals, such as POETRY, Kenyon Review, Psychology Today, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, New England Review, and Poets & Writers. She is a professor in the Lone star System. EPISODE EXTRAS Melissa Studdard Website Melissa Studdard on Amazon Lone Star College System --- Send in a voice message:
Dennis Barone, professor emeritus at the University of Saint Joseph, was born in New Jersey. He attended Bard College and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1992 he became the Thomas Jefferson Chair in American Studies, The Netherlands. In 1997, Dennis received the America Award in Fiction for Echoes. He received the first faculty scholarship award at the University of Saint Joseph in 2016. He has published 27 books as author or editor, including Garnet Poems: An Anthology of Connecticut Poetry Since 1776 (Wesleyan UP 2012), Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster (U of Penn P 1995), Beyond Memory: Italian Protestants in Italy and America (SUNY P 2016), New Hungers for Old: One Hundred Years of Italian American Poetry (Star Cloud 2012), Second Thoughts (prose, Bordighera P 2017), Frame Narrative (poetry 2018), Walkers in the City ( a COVID poetry chapbook anthology Rain Taxi 2021), A Field Guide to the Rehearsal (poetry 2022). EPISODE EXTRAS Find Dennis's books on Amazon Learn more about Dennis Barone on his website --- Send in a voice message:
Pegi Deitz Shea, two-time winner of the CT Book Award, has published more than 500 works of poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and children's books. She founded and directs Poetry Rocks, and was the inaugural Poet Laureate of Vernon. She is president of the CT Coalition of Poets Laureate. EPISODE EXTRAS Pegi Deitz Shea website Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate Vernon, Conn. --- Send in a voice message:
Jessica Cuello is poetry editor at Tahoma Review and has been a French and English teacher in the public schools for 27 years. Her books include Liar (Barrow Street 2021), Yours Creature (JackLeg 2023), Hunt (Word Works 2017), and Pricking (Tiger Bark 2016). Cuello was the recipient of The 2018 New Ohio Review Poetry Prize, The 2013 New Letters Poetry Prize, and a 2015 Saltonstall Writing Fellowship. In 2014 she was awarded The Decker Award from Hollins University for outstanding secondary teaching. EPISODE EXTRAS Jessica Cuello's Website The Bird Girl on Interim Poetics Laundromat with Single Mother in Missouri Review Out, Out by Robert Frost on The Poetry Foundation Tahoma Literary Review --- Send in a voice message:
Tom Nicotera has taught poetry classes and workshops in Washington, D.C., including at Immaculata College and Georgetown University. Tom ran a poetry series in Takoma Park, Maryland, that included Beat writers such as Charles Plymell and Herbert Huncke. He also coproduced  a Jazz-Poetry Day on the Washington Monument Grounds in D.C. In Connecticut, Tom ran a poetry series at Susan's Cafe in Granby, and for 25 years, was involved as cofounder/coordinator of the Bloomfield Library's Wintonbury Poetry Series. He was editor of Charter Oak Poets II, an anthology of Hartford area poets, and was on the organizing committee for the 2001 Connecticut Poetry Festival at Middlesex Community College. He was a member of the performance poetry trio "Not Just Any Tom, Vic and Terri" and for four years produced the "Celebrate Bloomfield" Poetry Event featuring 17 Bloomfield poets. For several years, he was a mentor for the student poetry collaboration between the American School for the Deaf and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. To earn money, Tom has worked as a Report Department Editor and Proofreader at the accounting firms Coopers & Lybrand in Washington, D.C., and Blum Shapiro in Connecitcut. In addition, Tom was a professional mime and juggler for six years, performing at deaf schools around the country, and street performing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, and New Orleans. He has a book of poems titled What Better Place To Be Than Here? (Kanona, NY: Foothills Publishing, 2016), and he has published poems in various journals, magazines, and anthologies. Contact Tom via email at to purchase his book. --- Send in a voice message:
Suzanne Frischkorn is a poet, essayist, and editor. She is the author of Fixed Star (JackLeg Press2022) as well as the books Girl on a Bridge and Lit Windowpane (both from Main Street Rag Press). Her chapbooks are American Flamingo, Spring Tide, Red Paper Flower, Exhale, and The Tactile Sense. She is the recipient of The Writer’s Center Emerging Writers Fellowship for Lit Windowpane and the Aldrich Poetry Award for her chapbook Spring Tide, selected by Mary Oliver. Suzanne earned an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, and a 2023 SWWIM Residency at The Betsy Hotel – South Beach. Her poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, Ecotone, Indiana Review, The Los Angeles Review, North American Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Verse Daily, Conversation Pieces: Poems That Talk to Other Poems, part of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet Series (Knopf), Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy (Trinity University Press 2020), NPR’s Poetry Moment podcast, and elsewhere. She is an editor at $ – Poetry Is Currency and serves on the editorial board. Her books are available on Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound. EPISODE EXTRAS Suzanne Frischkorn website Purchase Suzanne Frischkorn's books Register for Suzanne's online reading at the Syracuse Writing Center on Jan. 27 --- Send in a voice message:
B. Fulton Jennes ("Barb") Jennes spent the first 25 years of her career as an advertising copywriter and freelance corporate writer and editor. After volunteering to run creative writing programs at her daughter's elementary school, she decided to pursue a teaching degree, leading to a 16-year second career as a public-school English teacher. Upon retiring in 2017, Jennes returned to her first love: poetry. She is Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, Connecticut, where she also serves as poet-in-residence at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Her poems have appeared in The Comstock Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, The Night Heron Barks, Tar River Poetry, SWIMM, Anti-Heroin Chic, Pareidolia Literary, Extreme Sonnets II, and many other journals and anthologies. Her poem “Glyphs of a Gentle Going” was awarded the 2022 Lascaux Prize and is a nominee for the 2023 Pushcart Prize. Jennes’s collection Mammoth Spring was a finalist for the 2021 Two Sylvias Wilder Prize and also the  Small Harbor Press Laureate Prize. Her collection Blinded Birds (Finishing Line Press, 2022) was named Winner of the 2022 International Book Awards in the poetry chapbook category; “Ghazal: For a Wild Child, Grown” – a poem from that collection – is also a nominee for the 2023 Pushcart Prize. Barb lives in Ridgefield with husband Chuck. Blinded Birds is available at or any local independent book seller. Barb's 2023 resolution is to try her hand at writing short stories. EPISODE EXTRAS Barb Jennes on Facebook Helix Literary Magazine Interview Moth storytelling video Blinded Birds - Finishing Line Press --- Send in a voice message:
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