Raking the Snow
Washington Writers Publishing House
Raking The Snow
Winner of the Washington Writers' Publishing House 1982 competition
© Elisavietta Ritchie 1982
Includes sections of poems of a Balkan October, poems of the Patuxent river, and poems from "A Surabaya Sequence" and the Far East —
On Raking The Snow:
"Elisavietta Ritchie's work is original, varied and exciting, and has been growing
steadily in scope and control. The core of her poems is vitality. Grim, joyous, exuberant
or erotic, they have a strong and vivid life." Josephine Jacobsen, poetry consultant
at the Library of Congress, 1971-1973; author of On The Island and In The Crevice of
Elisavietta Ritchie writes a deceptively surprising poetry—casually conversational, brilliant with imagery, resplendent with sound, elegant in ideas, Yet beneath the very simplest lines there is an easy surrealism that opens each poem out onto another univers of ominous meaning and oblique possibilities. As in these lines:
"...We shuttle centuries and shuffle names.
I sing the old songs, and try to make him taste
that fake grape jello, bouillon, and white bread..."
And in these lines also:
"...You stop there. Are you scared?
I spoon the soup til it ebbs
and sop the last drops with hot bread..."
Who would imagine there is more to these lines than meets the eye? Yet they work on us in unaccustomed ways. And taken together, the entire collection of poems in Raking The Snow presents us with an extraordinary sensibility—simultaneously immeciate and abstract, sensual and curiously distant. (Needless to say, this kind of simultaneity can only happen when a poet has extreme mastery of her craft, as Emily Dickinson had supreme mastery of her craft.)
These poems speak for us in ways we did not imagine possible."
New York Quarterly
Lisa Ritchie: "Since we are supposed to brandish our little successes, and this one of mine is impossible to find online but easy in the print edition: a poem from RAKING THE SNOW, a WWPH 1981-2 winner, was just reprinted in The Bay Weekly's lovely boating issue:"
ON WEATHERING GALES
Whether to rig the sea anchor
from stem or from stern
depends on the cut of the hull.
If the line is streamed from the bow
the boat may lie broadside to waves
or make sternway too fast, jam the rudder.
If you rig from the stern, following seas
could flood the cockpit ‑‑ you'll swamp.
In either case, tow ropes chafe, fray and break.
Run for port ‑‑ assuming you know
where you are on the chart ‑‑ you risk
going aground, or smashing into the lighthouse.
Mainsail and mizzen are reefed.
Still you heel more with each swell.
Shortening sail is no longer enough.
Then strip the masts,
lash the helm, lie a'hull
in the troughs between crests.
Bare poles may respond to the wind.
You heave and reach on through the seas.
Perhaps you can ride out the night.
The question is, why
are you out here at all?
Yet you know:
As soon as you're dry and repaired
you'll set sail again,
still stalking the perfect wind.
©The Christian Science Monitor; reprinted in Raking The Snow, Washington Writers Publishing House winner, ©Elisavietta Ritchie 1982; The Lake Ontario Log, 1994; and in anthologies More Golden Apples and American Sports Poems, Papier Mache Press; The Bay Weekly, 10/10/2014]
Composer David Owens has transformed poems from Raking the Snow into exciting classical music scored for piano and mezzo-soprano. Now on CD available from Albany Records – catalogue number TROY 1506 and on Amazon.com.
|And David Owens has composed other pieces on Elisavietta Ritchie's more recent poems. CD due this fall!
My Washington Writers' Publishing House book, RAKING THE SNOW has a new life in music! ANDREA PRESS, publisher of the music of DAVID OWENS is pleased to announce the release of a new compact disc recording of three major works by this esteemed composer --Sonata for Two Pianos (2010), Fantasy on a Celtic Carol, for Viola and Piano (1985), Raking the Snow ñ Six Poems by Elisavietta Ritchie (2008)
August 1 is the release date for this exciting CD, being brought out by Albany Records ñ catalogue number TROY 1506. Recorded in the acoustically famous Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Mass., it features the talented violist, Kristina Giles, performing the Fantasy with the composer at the piano; Mr. Owens also accompanies celebrated mezzo-soprano DíAnna Fortunato in Raking the Snow, settings of verses by a remarkable and prolific poet. And the Sonata showcases the duo-piano virtuosity of Sangyoung Kim and Victor Cayres.
The disc is entitled "Raking the Snow", and is available through www.Amazon.com or www.AlbanyRecords.com. (After September 1, this recording will also be available through iTunes and other online sources.)
After silence of drought, such speech.
From ephemeral alphabets traced in the mud
I'm learning the grammar of rain,
linguistics of flood.
But puddles are illegible
or too murky for strangers to read:
some message about pain
in the wet stammer of weed.
The sun declares the lesson over.
Hardly mastered. In dried ground
spelling crumbles. There remain
only punctuating buds around
what had been sentences. Next storm
I may learn to decipher earth's half
of cloud's thought, or fail again
to finish one fertile paragraph.
[ The Christian Science Monitor ©1977; reprinted in Raking The Snow, winner of the Washington Writers Publishing House 1981 competition, © 1982, Elisavietta Ritchie; Fresh Water: Poems from the Rivers, Lakes, and Streams, editor Jennifer Bosveld, Pudding House Press, 2002; Verse Daily at http://www.versedaily.org/monsoonlessons.shtml; Earth, Fire, and Water number 7; Not Just Air, at http://www.notjustair.org; © Poetry Nook, September 2013]
FIG TREE, DUBROVNIK
Rain! Rain pelts the fat‑mittened leaves ‑‑
At last we are armed with an alibi
should the farmer peer
from his cottage shuttered against
the rain, catch us eating his figs. Yet
already muddy from scrambling hills and walls,
we were hunting figs before any storm
excused our running for shelter into his orchard.
Rain pours past on the rocky ground.
Under the banyan tangle of branches, we're dry
till we bite into figs, inside like a womb
where a hundred miniature flowers hide.
Rain floods the slope. You ask if we merely seek
a refuge under our warm confusion of limbs
and catch at slippery roots to keep
from sliding down our eroding lives.
Rain drowns my words, but I know: even without
alibis, even under the ripest sun,
we would climb all hills and walls and trees
to steal the harvest of each other here.
Raking The Snow, Washington Writers Publishing House, © Elisavietta Ritchie 1982