The Turning by Featured Poet Alice B Fogel

 (from poems on the Appalachian Trail) 

Even while the spruce grows
held upright between gravity and heaven
it twirls upon its axis, a core that changes
year by year, though not in accordance
with the world’s revolutions. Righteous
and right-handed, Earth rotates
eastward against space and time and all the living
molecules upon it. So when the tree—
blown by westerly gusts and lured
to southern light—turns against all reason
clockwise there are at work so many
conflicting forces—Coriolis Effect, the leftward-
leaning bias of being, the sun’s seeming circle
across the forest—that even the tree
must exert its own orbit. How then could I
keep anything straight? This one, fallen, stripped
of bark, cracks apart, split across concentric
rings into spokes like wheels or webs
that spiraled upward through the rooted trunk. 
Deflection seems a crucial labor, the kind
that conspires to belie the calm
I feel in these ancient woods. Once
upon a time, when this universe burst forth
from some elemental cloud
whose collapse turned everything
to spinning, we in return became the wound
unwinding, and we are still
twisting in the winds of its momentum.

Poem by Alice B Fogel

Alice B Fogel served as the New Hampshire poet laureate from 2104 through 2019. Her latest book is Nothing But: a series of indirect considerations on art & consciousness. A Doubtful House is her previous collection, preceded by Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” which won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature & the 2016 NH Literary Award in Poetry. An earlier book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller. She is also the author of Strange Terrain, on how to appreciate poetry without necessarily “getting” it—which offers inroads to poetry useful for readers, reading groups, teachers, & writers. Nominated for Best of the Web & a dozen times for the Pushcart, she has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, & her poems have appeared in many journals & anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Spillway, Hotel Amerika, The Inflectionist, & The Southern Review. She works one-on-one with students with learning differences at Landmark College, & hikes mountains whenever possible. 


Links to book sales:

Nothing But reveals the disruptions—welcome or unsettling—to our stream of consciousness that occur when we encounter the unexplainable. In these poems, such suspensions of linear thought become a beckoning toward transcendence, an opening both deeper into, and out beyond, our perceptions in an otherwise prescribed world.

A marriage houses two wildly distinct entities, each one in turn a form containing its own unruly spirit. Addressing its inhabitants with humor, love, sorrow, anger, confusion, and hope, A Doubtful House explores what happens to boundaries–psychological, emotional, physical, even syntactical–when people live together for a long time.

This series of poems responding to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” pays homage to a 274-year-old masterpiece and, with the theme of spirit and embodiment that music—and life itself—evoke, renders from it a luminous new interpretation. Bach created the Goldbergs’ 32 sections using nearly all the styles of western European music at the time; Fogel responds in kind with a range of contemporary poetic styles, including narrative, lyric, and experimental, all confined within the 32-line structure she has borrowed from the composer’s 32-bar format. Interval mimics the “baroque” effects of overlapping melodies and harmonies by layering sound, syntax, and sense in multiple voices exploring self, identity, and being.