A reading at Op.Cit Books by poets Ann Howells and Michelle Hartman
Two poets in a pod: Ann Howells and Michelle Hartman
Ann Howells and Michelle Hartman, a pair of poets reading at Op.Cit Books (DeVargas Center, 157 Paseo de Peralta, 505-428-0321) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6, have a lot in common. They both live in Texas and edit online poetry journals — Howells edits Illya’s Honey (www .illyashoney.com) and Hartman edits Red River Review (www.redriverreview.com). They know each other, their work often appears in the same journals, and both published books in 2016 — Howells’ Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press) and Hartman’s The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory (Old Seventy Creek Press). Both are outspoken feminists who write poems in which meaning drives language, and neither seems to have much need for au courant poetry trends. As writers, however, Howells and Hartman are as different as land and sky. Howells emphasizes sense-based images with sudden insights that twist what came before, while Hartman ponders and riffs upon more esoteric levels of reality.
“A bouncy waitress offers refills/in a sidewalk café, biscotti/and spiced gingerbread,” Howells writes in the closing stanza of “On Main Street,” which was published in Bindweed Magazine in July 2017. The poem is a viscerally sweet take on a peaceful morning scene of a perfect fall day. But everything is not what it seems — or soon it will not be. In the café, “A shuffling, old woman settles/at a table, bends to her book./No one is shooting yet.”
“Paintings on velvet aside/dogs cannot play poker/ their faces pristine mirrors/of their souls.” Hartman writes in “Perspective #6”, which appeared in Poetry Pacific in 2014. “Joy, anguish/and puzzlement as clearly visible/as fiery sky messages from God./Now Cats can have your house/car and first born/and you will never see a tell.” — Jennifer Levin