A read­ing at Op.Cit Books by po­ets Ann How­ells and Michelle Hart­man

Two po­ets in a pod: Ann How­ells and Michelle Hart­man

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

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

Ann How­ells

Michelle Hart­man

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