Featured Poet: Penny Harter

Featured Poet: Penny Harter

Penny Harter, a mom, grandma, and sometimes poet-teacher for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, is published widely in journals and anthologies, and her literary autobiography appears as an extended essay in Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 28 (1998) as well as in Contemporary Authors, Volume 172 (1999). Her poems have recently appeared, or will appear, in the journals Adanna, Naugatuck River Review, Rattle, Qarrtsiluni, The Quotable, Persimmon Tree, Red Rose Review, Snapdragon, Tattoo Highway, Tiferet, Verse-Virtual, Visual Arts Collective, and Windhover. Her essays and poe20151205_162037 (2)ms also appear in the writing guides Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry and The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop. She also has two model poems forthcoming in The Crafty Poet, II.

Her most recent books include The Resonance Around Us (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2013); One Bowl (prizewinning e-chapbook, 2011); Recycling Starlight (2010); and The Night Marsh (2008). A new collection, Measuring the Distance, is under consideration at Mountains and Rivers Press. With her late husband, William J. Higginson, she co-authored The Haiku Handbook (25th Anniversary Edition, 2010), and her children’s alphabestiary, The Beastie Book, came out in late December, 2009.

A Dodge poet, Harter was a featured reader at the 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. She has won three poetry fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as awards from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Mary Carolyn Davies Award from the Poetry Society of America, the first William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award for her work in American Nature Writing, 2002, and two fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) for residencies during January, 2011 and March 2015. Now living in Mays Landing, NJ, she works as a visiting poet for the NJSCA and various other agencies. You can sample her work at both her blog and website: penhart.wordpress.com; www.2hweb.net/penhart.

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A Prayer the Body Makes

In foetal position, our knees drawn up,
arms parallel in supplication, and eyes

rolled back into the skull of sleep,
that dark absence that swallows us or

covers us with climbing ivy—evergreen
from birth to death. A prayer the body

makes beyond words, beyond the unheard
frequencies of cells broadcasting into

the abyss, beyond the arc of another body
curling warm against our own, ribs

rising and falling. Translate, the mind
demands. Translate this prayer that we

may all practice it together. Translate the
body’s pores breathing in, breathing out,

breathing in, breathing out—asleep or
awake—in the wordless center holding all.

First published in Persimmon Tree as a winning poem in their Poets from the East Coast States competition:

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