Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Poet and Author Curt Curtin. Curt will be at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Saturday, February 8th at 2:00 PM to read his poetry and answer any questions people may have. Curt is a lifelong poet with three self-produced chapbooks and many individual poems appearing in journals and other publications. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Jacob Knight Poetry Award, in 2010 received the Frank O’Hara award for poetry, and in 2019 won second place in the annual contest of the Connecticut Poetry Society. He’s been a featured reader in many poetry venues in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and twice in Ireland. He taught college English and creative writing at Westfield State University for 20 years. For Art’s Sake is his first full-length collection.
The first question as always: Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first.)
We sell discounted copies of For Art’s Sake at poetry events, several of which are scheduled between now and June 30. In addition to Annie’s reading on 2/8, the book is currently available at local bookstores and other venues during readings: Tatnuck Bookseller (Westboro—1/26), Barnes & Noble (Worcester—2/22), Bedlam Books Café (Worcester–3/11) (Worcester), 19 Carter Community Center (Berlin—3/15), The Book Loft (Great Barrington—6/15) and the Poetarium (Southbridge—6/30); we’re in process of getting the books listed on Amazon.com and BN.com.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
The Worcester County Poetry Association has been wonderful about co-sponsoring events and helping to get the word out about upcoming readings. Their website, https://worcestercountypoetry.org, is a great source of information about local poets and poetry events, including my own.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from [newest release/spotlighted release]?
My work covers a broad range of themes: science, nature, art, war, family, home. In For Art’s Sake, though each poem was written in its own time, the organization and flow of the book is an intentional effort to integrate them into a single composition that is a tribute to the creative arts. The poems weave among the arts in small groups of two, four or more, each small group responding to paintings, sculpture, music, dance, theater or poetry. Imagine entering a gallery where the art is on the wall or on pedestals with music playing in the background, and suddenly dancers enter the gallery and bring movement to respond to the music; performance artists mimic poses in the sculpture. The flow moves from mood to mood, like moving on to rooms in a gallery where themes or styles are captured. The collection closes with a bit of self-effacing humor about poets and our pretensions. Overall, the book is not structured enough to be considered a symphony, but it is an integrated composition.
What cool facts or findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
As a teenager growing up in Boston, I had the unique privilege of being able to attend the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum for free, and I went there often, taking notes and making sketches of works that moved me. At the Gardner Museum, I was awestruck by Rembrandt’s painting, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” When it was stolen along with a dozen other paintings in 1990, I felt a personal loss and was moved to write “Abduction at the Gardner.”
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Having respect for the subject, for the particulars of the people or things addressed in a poem is essential. Study what matters in each poem so that you can find depth in the subject. Read other poets, history, and other good literature. That background will give you a platform from which you can draw themes and metaphors. Finally, pay close attention to sound and sense, not by using rigid meters and end rhymes but by appropriate use of alliteration, internal rhymes, and other tools
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have three collections under review, in search of publishers: Weavings: Poems of Science and Soul, Nature’s Eclectic Designs, and Kerry Dancers. I also have two books of poetry for children in development.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
In my 20s, I spent a winter living alone in the woods; I was writing and reading the only book in the cabin, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. I wrote many poems during that time but at the end of the winter I burned all that I had written up to that point.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
In my 30s, I had the opportunity to spend a summer at Oxford University, an important formative experience in itself. During that time, I took a side trip to Scotland and visited a famous pub called “The Castle” in Edinburgh. I caught that experience in a wild poem called “The Castle Pub” after I returned from that trip.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
As noted above, the Worcester County Poetry Association has been a great resource and source of support. Also, the rich variety of poetry venues in the Worcester area provide support to many poets and other writers. The Worcester poetry community is very collaborative, offering encouragement to writers at all levels.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Curt. We look forward to seeing you here on February 8th.