NH poet laureate Alice B. Fogel exposes poetry’s ‘strange terrain’


Crier\Sarah Poolman

NH Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel.

Emily Craig, Assistant News Editor

New Hampshire poet laureate Alice B. Fogel recently sat down with Saint A’s students in a poetry workshop, dinner, and reading to discuss the place of poetry in our lives. The event was sponsored by S.O.A.R., Conversatio, the Philosophy Department, and Lucubrations.

The title of the event, as well as Fogel’s poetry guide, was “Making Yourself at Home in the Strange Terrain of Poetry.” Fogel at one point noted that poetry is indeed a strange terrain for many young authors. She gave the advice to “keep up with it,” and to not give up despite the struggle and frustration that comes with writing poetry.

To date, Fogel has published five books, not including the aforementioned Strange Terrain. Her most recent publication, A Doubtful House, will be available for purchase this spring. Fogel advertised A Doubtful House while she read from her other publications at the poetry reading held in the Living Learning Commons classroom.

Fogel said that her inspiration for poetry, and the poetry itself, is mostly about “finding insight and what makes life worth living.” She shared how she “makes up rules” for herself while she writes her poetry because doing so “makes it fun” for her. Some of these rules, as seen in “Sweet Vein,” can also be “interesting or a challenge”. Other poems of hers take unusual shapes; however, these unconventional visual styles do not digress from her deep appreciation for form in poetry.

In her poem “Sweet Vein,” Fogel uses ellipses and colons instead of periods. She said she created this rule for herself in order to enrich the imagery of the poem. The ellipses specifically mirrors the shape of a comet, one that she watched during maple sugaring season and that inspired “Sweet Vein.” One student asked Fogel how she became such a renowned poet and how the younger generation should seek publication for their own poetry.

“Poetry journals,” said Fogel. “They’re a great way to get a foot into the poetry scene. Get involved, submit your work and subscribe to journals.”

She said that submitting your work to journals, especially local ones, gives your name and poetry more recognition as time goes on. One particular magazine that Fogel suggested was Poets & Writers. This magazine’s mission, as stated on their website, is “to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.”

Fogel has published poetry in over 50 journals, such as Best American Poetry and Poet’s Choice. Her poetry book Interval: Poems Based upon Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (2015) won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize—awarded to poetry, short fiction and essays—eight times.

When Fogel ended the night of reading and workshopping, she said that “it was very nice to spend the day at Saint Anselm” and that she sends her best to any and all aspiring student poets on campus.