In Memoriam

Philip Burnham, Jr., NEPC member

 Philip Burnham, long-time member, winner of several NEPC poetry awards,  passed away at his home on June 13, 2018, after a long illness. Philip was the author of five books of poetry, a member of the Bagel Bards, and a dear friend to many poets.

 

Arrivals and Departures

Driving to your arrival at the airport I
Tunnel the sea, find space among rows of empty
Cars, park, walk, de-escalate, to a numbered gate
Where you are fallen safely from the sky.  We wait
Together watching tired luggage snake its way
Toward us, retrieve your bags, locate our lettered bay,
Get in and out, pay to escape the concrete maze,
To journey back and backwards to our time, our place.

There are fresh flowers, familiar linens, in your room,
The kitchen shelves are stocked with your once favored food,
You offer little gifts to me  as you make tea
To bridge the missing travelled quarter day between
Amsterdam’s dinner and our own, our talk carries
From travel, weather and family to varied
Certainties about our common past, flowing on
To unvaried uncertainties of uncommon

Futures.  Days pass by. You are reassured that I,
The house, the objects here hold to your memory,
The stones of the walk, the garden’s early light, the black
Dog, the “subway’s” hidden passage down the steep back
Stairs, treasured attic boxes exhumed, examined, complete,
While at a further range some altered shops and streets
Whisper of modest change even as they remind
You of childhood, revised and safely left behind.

Then together we take the road under the shelf
Of the sea, your blue backpack repacked as yourself,
Heavier, the black dog disgruntled as you leave,
Arriving for your departure, you get out, heave
Your travels to your back, embrace me and say I
Love you, be safe, as I return you to the sky,
Make my way back to what was now and then our home
Where I may gather up the kitchen’s crumbs alone.

Housekeeping, 2005

Philip Burnham’s website

Obituary:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n=philip-e-burnham&pid=189444170

Diana Der-Hovanessian, Former NEPC President

Diana Der-Hovanessian, accomplished poet, translator, and long-time President of the New England Poetry Club, passed away on March 1, 2018 at home.

Diana, a New England-born poet, was twice a Fulbright professor of American Poetry and was author of more than 25 books of poetry and translations. She recieved awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Society of America, PEN/Columbia Translation Center, National Writers Union, Armenian Writers Union, Paterson Poetry Center, Prairie Schooner, American Scholar, and the Armenian Ministry of Culture. Her poems appeared in Agni, American Poetry Review, Ararat, CSM, Poetry, Partisan, Prairie Schooner, Nation, etc., and in anthologies such as Against Forgetting, Women on War, On Prejudice, Finding Home, Leading Contemporary Poets, Orpheus and Company, Identity Lessons, Voices of Conscience, Two Worlds Walking, etc. Among the several plays written by DDH, two (The Secret of Survival and Growing Up Armenian) were produced and in 1984 and 1985 traveled to many college campuses in the 80s telling the Armenian story with poetry and music.  After 1989, The Secret of Survival with Michael Kermoyan and later with Vahan Khanzadian was performed for earthquake relief benefits. She worked as a visiting poet and guest lecturer on American poetry, Armenian poetry in translation, and the literature of human rights at various universities here and abroad.

Diana served as President of the New England Poetry Club for over three decades. She stated the mission of the Club in the following way: “To expand poetry. To bring people into the art. To show off the best. To be a forum for an exchange of ideas.” We strive to honor her vision of the NEPC!

Diana Der Hovanessian with Chris Bojalian at the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters, Cambridge
Diana Der Hovanessian with Joyce Wilson

 

Diana Der-Hovanessian

Selection of poems by Diana Der-Hovanessian

ANGEL IN SOMERVILLE

Once Sona gave me an angel. Or I should say
a drawing of one sprinkling stars
like snow, inscribing it, “Diana scattering
light.”  Not mother, not mommy, not mom —
she used my name.  I taped it to the door
of her old room and there it stayed until

it came to life today.  Walking in Somerville
I saw a woman in an empty parking lot
scattering crumbs St. Francis style
to swarming pigeons at her feet,
Sona’s angel strewing stars, chatting as regent,
angel, queen, — bag lady no more, but mother
feeding her children, dispensing grace.

 

SHIFTING THE SUN

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When you father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0ZCX41p2xE

SALT (published in AGNI)

http://www.bu.edu/agni/poetry/print/2002/56-der-hovanessian.html

Interview with Diana Der-Hovanessian by Doug Holder:

https://dougholder.blogspot.com/2018/03/interview-with-new-england-poetry-club.html

Biography: https://armenianweekly.com/2018/03/02/diana-der-hovanessian-dispensing-grace/

Obituary: http://www.giragosianfuneralhome.com/m/?p=memorial&id=2078443

Victor Howes, Former NEPC President and Board Member

Victor Howes 2017, Arts at the Armory Photo Credit, Adnan Adam Onart

Victor E. Howes passed away on January 1, 2018, at the age of 94. All who knew Victor remember his kindness and generosity, his good humor and his erudition. He served many years on the Board of the New England Poetry Club, welcoming new members and facilitating writing workshops; he was active in the Club until he was 93. He regularly regaled us with stories about the Club’s founders, Robert Frost and Amy Lowell, and members Ann Sexton and Robert Lowell, among others—he was the dear memory keeper for the Club and is sorely missed.

Victor was an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia University, and Yale.  As a Ph.D. in English/American literature, he was a professor at Northeastern University for 32 years until he retired in 1991.

Poetry was Victor’s life work. He wrote over 600 poems, most of which were printed in newspapers and magazines.

RELIC

by Victor Howes
(from Thoughts after Spenser: Collected Light Verse, 2017)

I found a faded King, a King of Hearts,
Between the pages of a borrowed book,
A frayed, worn King, a played-out playing card,
Lost in the shuffle, hardly worth a look.
And with a flip, I flipped him on the face,
This player King, who by convention took
A player Queen, but fell to player Ace.
What glory now, without the servile pack,
The Jacks who followed suit, the cardboard crew
Who honored him? What hand had he been dealt
to live, outlive those other kings who knew
His rank, however keenly they had felt
His rivalry? They left before he came
To this sad pass. They knew it was a game.

Victor Howes 2017, Arts at the Armory Photo Credit, Adnan Adam Onart

Obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=187757524