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Mar
03
2024
Literary Arts

“Sun and Shadow, Wood and Stone,” an anthology of 61 poems by local and regional writers, celebrates ten years of the annual Solstice Poetry Reading. (Submitted photo)

Local poets published in anthology

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“When you open the door
you fall a long way into amazing.”
—Audrey Hackett, “Here”

The sun is shining and the birds are singing. Overhead and underfoot, life abounds. It’s no wonder April is National Poetry Month.

To mark the occasion and the innumerable poetic moments that came before, the Glen Helen Association and Tecumseh Land Trust recently released “Sun and Shadow, Wood and Stone,” an anthology of poems by 61 local and regional wordsmiths who’ve read at the annual Solstice Poetry Reading over the past decade.

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The anthology was edited by local residents and poets Anne Randolph, a former Tecumseh Land Trust board member; Ed Davis, who hosted the Solstice Poetry Readings for 10 years; and Matthew Birdsall, who took the reins of the readings from Davis in December 2022.

“It all happened so organically,” said Davis of the anthology’s publication. “And right now, we need poetry more than ever. It gets to the core of who we really are and tells us who to be. It zeroes in on what really matters.”

Davis said he and his team of editors had their work cut out for them. Beyond working through the organizational impediments of the pandemic, the group was tasked with culling down several dozens of poem submissions from solstice readers to appear in the anthology. The result of their work: a 94-page collection of poems, mostly pertaining to Yellow Springs’ natural beauty, and arranged in the progression of the seasons.

“But it’s not all nature poems,” Davis assured would-be readers. “When we evaluated submissions, we’d go for the best poem — regardless of its subject. We made our selections according to clarity, concrete language and the overall sensory experience.”

The crowning quality of the anthology, Davis said, is its diversity in both subject and authorship. With around 22 poets hailing from Yellow Springs at the time of their solstice performance, there are also poets from all around Ohio — creating what Davis called a “geographical diversity.” Beyond that, all 61 poets featured in the collection vary in age, race and gender, Davis said.

“It’s a diverse bunch,” Davis said proudly. “We also have some of the area’s best known poets appearing alongside younger poets who might be getting published for the first time.”

Illustrating his point, Davis called to mind Herbert Woodward Martin — a Daytonian who’s renowned for both his original works and his performances of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poems — and Yellow Springs High School 2021 graduate Arielle Johnson. Their poems are just a few pages apart in “Sun and Shadow, Wood and Stone.”

“It’s a beautiful juxtaposition,” Davis said.

Also appearing in the anthology are locally-tied poets Moriel Rothman-Zecher, who authored “Before All the World” — which was named an NPR book of 2022 — and “Sadness Is a White Bird” — which was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; Bill Felker, who authors “A Yellow Springs Almanack,” which appears on page four of each issue of the News; Audrey Hackett, a former writer and reporter for the News; Gabrielle Civil, a former associate professor of performance at Antioch College; Robert Paschell, who can be seen selling his pun-filled shirts in downtown Yellow Springs on any sunny weekend; and many more poets local residents may find familiar.

The cover of the anthology — a watercolor of towering conifers in the Glen Helen pine forest, dappled with both cold and warm hues, hinting at the changing of the seasons — was done by local painter Libby Rudolf.

“All of this, the whole thing, was a group effort,” Davis said. 

“Sun and Shadow, Wood and Stone” can be purchased at Epic Bookshop, the Glen Helen Gift Shop in the Vernet Building and online at tecumsehlandtrust.org for $20. All proceeds, Davis said, go to benefit Tecumseh Land Trust and Glen Helen — the host of the annual Solstice Poetry Reading event each December. For additional information about the anthology or the annual poetry event, contact Tecumseh Land Trust Executive Director Michele Burns at michele@tecumsehlandtrust.org or call 937-767-9490.

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