Poets share their craft at the West Tisbury library

Rebecca Morgan Frank reads from her debut collection "Little Murders Everywhere." — Photo by Ben Williams

Libraries are something of a natural environment for poets. The words have a way of floating out of the books, filling the air with an ideal atmosphere for receiving words. The West Tisbury Library played host to poets Justen Ahren and Rebecca Morgan Frank on Tuesday, June 5.

Ms. Frank shared from her palette of powerful poems, many drawn from her newly published collection “Little Murders Everywhere.” The title poem explores Ms. Frank’s relationship with an injured red-tailed hawk that she holds tethered to her leather glove. It begins:

“As for me, I was merely an accessory:

I raised the ax and chopped the frozen squirrel in thirds.

The red-tailed hawk watched me


our fear strung as taut as the line that joined us.”

The chain of “e” sounds in the first line attract the ear and invite the mind to follow. “When I’m composing I’m hearing. Writing it down it’s the sound of the line, it’s driven by sound,” said Ms. Frank.

A free poetry workshop that Ms. Frank attended at a bookstore when she was in her mid 20s inspired her to study poetry seriously. When asked what topics she focused on, she responded, “Death, war, love: the big topics of poetry. And on communication.”

Published in April by Salmon Poetry, “Little Murders Everywhere,” is her first book.

Justen Ahren, the Poet Laureate of West Tisbury, read selections from his manuscript, “The Bells In Her Mouth,” which is inspired by a woman Mr. Ahren chanced upon in Florida. The woman was spinning barefoot in a parking lot with a young boy looking on. Mr. Ahren began writing about the scene, delving into the possible circumstances that led to it. Realizing that the poems he was writing were personal and that the subject was a way to access that, Mr. Ahren spent three years completing “The Bells In Her Mouth,” which is now being sent to small presses.

Mr. Ahren’s next big project is to complete the West Tisbury Poet Laureate pledge to write a poem for the annual town meeting.

The reading at the library was rapid, finishing in under an hour, but time is a funny metric for poetry readings. They are perhaps better quantified by the number of moving moments they contain, or measured by how entrancing their imagery is. It suffices to say that poetry evades all attempts at formal measurement.

Jennifer Tseng, a poet in her own right, invited the audience and provided amiable introductions for the two poets. As circulation assistant and events coordinator at the library, Ms. Tseng continues to make the library a place for writers of all stripes.

On Thursday, June 28, at 5 pm, Laura Wainwright will read from her new book “Home Bird: Four Seasons on Martha’s Vineyard.”