State Poet Laureate Chooses Poem by Pawtucket Writer to Be Displayed on Digital Boards

On Board RIPTA Buses in January

 

More Than 120 Poems Were Submitted for Recent

“Poetry In Motion, RI” Contest

 

 

Providence, Rhode Island, December 28, 2018 –   After reviewing more than 120 entries, State Poet Laureate Tina Cane has selected a Pawtucket writer’s poem to be displayed on the digital boards inside Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses. In October, Cane and RIPTA put out a call for public poetry submissions as part of the “Poetry in Motion, RI” project which promotes literacy and the arts by posting poems on interior bus displays.  Cane said that she chose Norma Jenckes’ poem, “Ghazal Howl in Pawtucket,” from more than 120 poems sent in from 45 Rhode Island residents.

 

Cane said that the poem is in traditional ghazal form -- which requires a series of couplets with a repeating refrain and a rhyming word to signal the refrain – and is also a homage to the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg.  “Norma Jenckes’ poem leapt out at me from the many wonderful poems we received.” Cane said.  “That it was a ghazal (a traditional Middle Eastern form--pronounced guzzle) which directly references the great “Howl” by Allen Ginsburg, while beautifully capturing a bygone era in Rhode Island, truly distinguished it from the rest.”

 

Working with RIPTA, Cane launched “Poetry in Motion, RI” a little over a year ago. Based on a program that started in 1992 as a collaboration between New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Poetry Society of America, Poetry in Motion introduces poetry to suburban and urban landscapes by posting poems, or parts of poems, on buses and subways cars.  Since its start in New York, the program has been adopted by numerous transit systems across the country. 

 

In Rhode Island, Cane works with artists who create original graphic designs for the poems which are posted amidst a rotation of changing advertisements on the digital display boards on RIPTA buses.  The intent is to give the public a moment of reflection or reprieve in an information-laden landscape, and Cane said that positive public response to the project prompted her to seek public submissions.  “I have thought about doing this for some time, and was inspired by a rider’s query to finally take action,” Cane said.  “This rider’s reaching out, and her desire to take part, is precisely the kind of engagement with art that I had hoped Poetry in Motion, RI would encourage.” The poems on the RIPTA buses change about once a month, and Jenckes’ poem will be displayed during the month of January 2019.

 

A direct descendant of Joseph Jenckes, Pawtucket's founder, Norma Coleman Jenckes was born and raised in Pawtucket. A poet and playwright, Jenckes spent 26 years teaching in Ohio, before returning to Rhode Island. She has published works in journals such as Minnesota Review and Paris Review, and has a volume of poems entitled DEMENTIA: This Undiscovered Country. (Blackstone River Press). Now retired, Jenckes is exploring her own creativity and the bardic tradition of her mother's Irish heritage on her blog “Back In The Bucket”:  http://pawtucketri.blogspot.com/.

GHAZAL HOWL IN PAWTUCKET-- Circa 1959

by Norma Jenckes

 

I trembled as I sneaked a smoke with O'Dowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

A leather-jacketed boy with a scowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

On the Bridge I feared some gossip, who knew my mother, was sitting

spying from the bus, cheek and jowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

Me standing there: cigarette dangling, blue uniform skirt rolled

thigh high, turtleneck my only cowl, I am with you in in Pawtucket.

 

Hiding my Catholic school badge, mouth smeared with white lipstick.

Eyes outlined in kohl like a baby owl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

Where is little Lucille, who would skate with me those cold starry nights?

At the Blue Pond we were on the prowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

Where is Roland-- red sweater, white '51 Ford with fairy fringe?

All dazzling smiles, jokes, no scowl. I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

That boy I met in the Back lots showed me where he dug.

Seeking flints, shard of Indian bowl. I am with you in Pawtucket

 

Oh, we married for a while; our son called last night. So where am I?

I read Bronte; heard Heathcliff's yowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

First and Last Chance walk past Peerless, Shartenberg's,Windsor.

The LeRoy for a late show--one last howl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

Stroll up Broad to Warner's Ballroom, sounds of “Harlem Nocturne”.

Blues sax paints the world, mirror ball rolls, I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

Speckled light on gingham, your cheek pressed to mine. “This is our song.

Norma, always be our song,” you growl. I am with you in Pawtucket.

 

The House is voting to rebuke Iowa Republican Steve King over remarks about white supremacy. King himself voted to condemn the ideas of white nationalism and white supremacy, but he noted that his comments to the New York Times were taken out of context. In an interview with the New York Times, the Iowa Republican said "white nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization - how did that language become offensive?"        IRS employees are going to have to work without pay through the government shutdown. The agency recalled 46-thousand workers to work to process tax refunds. The IRS is giving out tax refunds, but it's not performing other functions like auditing.        Attorney General-nominee William Barr had smooth sailing on day one of his Senate confirmation hearings. Barr said he disagrees with President Trump and does not believe Special Counsel Robert Mueller [[ MULL-er ]] is involved in a "witch hunt." He said Mueller should be allowed to complete his work on Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.        If you want to keep your heart healthy, make sure to get plenty of shut-eye. New research from the National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid found that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night had a 27 percent higher chance of developing a heart condition. Sleeping more than eight hours a night also showed a correlation to heart problems.       The Oscar drama continues. The Screen Actors Guild is accusing the Academy of intimidating actors so that they only present at the Oscars and not other award shows. SAG-AFTRA released a statement saying that they have received many examples of the extraordinary and unwarranted pressure on talent, and called the situation outrageous and unacceptable. Meanwhile, the Academy Awards still has no host after Kevin Hart confirmed he will definitely not be taking the gig.