Reading | 40 Years Of Poetry at The Burchfield-Penney: Ansie Baird
Reading past works and recitation of poetry in new book, Porch Watch
Sunday, March 8, 2020, 2 pm
Join the Burchfield Penney for a reading with poet Ansie Baird, celebrating the release of her most recent book Porch Watch. This event is free and open to the public.
Ansie Baird received her M.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo in 1979. She taught for forty years at The Buffalo Seminary, is a former editor of Audit Magazine and Earth’s Daughters, has taught for Just Buffalo in their Writers in Education program for many years (a participant in Poetry in the Schools) and was an original member of the Albright-Knox collaborative entitled: A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words. Her work has been published in The Paris Review, The Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, and numerous other journals. Her book, In Advance Of All Parting, won the White Pine Press national poetry competition and was published by White Pine Press in 2009. In May 2016 she was one of four poets included in a book entitled Four Buffalo Poets published by Outriders Press. In September 2016 her second full-length collection of poems, The Solace of Islands, was published by BlazeVOX Press.
Advance Praise for Porch Watch
Ansie Baird's new book is a lovely mix of wit, emotional range, and craft--a craft that responds to each of its poetic occasions in a voice that has been tutored through her earlier collections to be sharp, humorous, intelligent, able to be at once acerbic and honestly emotional. Porch Watch--with its implication of constant vigil--is full of warm appreciations of friends, of elegies that compose the broken heart into a right ritual of mourning: into, indeed, a style of blessing, each one scattered where she wants all her friends’ ashes to be scattered "in the fields of praise." I love the jaunty fortitude of these poems, each one demonstrating (without a trace of self pity or self indulgence) how a rendered life, shadows and all, can be taken on, fully engaged with. "True things," she says, "make up the miracles of your life." Her poems are just such big-hearted, open-eyed true things.
Elegance is only one of the many words that come to mind when reading Ansie Baird’s new poems Porch Watch, though heartbreaking is most certainly another. The elegies to poets like John Logan and Hayden Carruth and to her sister are good examples, but the heart of this book are the poems to herself. In “Kitchen Wisdom” she tells her grandson when he asks if she fears death, “No, not scared, exactly”, that what she fears is missing the world and watching him grow up. A remarkable accounting can be found in these brave and honest poems, all the more reason to relish their elegance. In a poem about her house she manages to also describe her life: “This is a house composed / of paper and stucco and oak,/ a house held together by / sloping doors and hope/ by climbing vines and desire adorning the supporting walls.” Yes, hope and desire, and love, there’s plenty of all that to be found in these beautiful and moving poems. Indeed.
Ansie Baird's easy intimacy opens the doors of these poems and invites us into her confidence. Porch Watch looks at a life, or maybe a collection of lives — the wheres and hows and might-have-beens of memory. In a style that shimmers off the page, Baird writes of loss, living, hosting, and having. These poems are nothing short of spectacular.
Reader: meet this self. This self of non-obvious, hard-won, elegant wisdom. This self who follows up on her lines’ implications, to tender tough talk. Who neither redeems disappointment, nor dissembles the satisfaction of aestheticizing it into something usable. This self invites us to lie seemingly right in the soil of her mind’s landscape, till we note patterns in primary thought glancing off reflection, before the two coalesce in artful indistinction. A mild vertigo as memory mediates presentness, as the self queries and delights in her words on the page, as “I” is suddenly slyly styled as “she.” This self has earned the hubris to alter Lear, her unabashed rhymes, and echoes of echoes of loved poems and songs, yet writes, too, what the inner ear might mishear, or chance to ride: was that “endearing” or “enduring” – or both and more? This self slings tone to attune the matter-of-fact to its rhetoricity, this self knows reckoning to face the worst (as never worst). Small and larger disappointment vies with Death, the latter perhaps the sweeter consort in many-pitched elegies doing all we can ask of friend or lover: make us live again. Here is Mother’s despair and labor, Father as keeper of language and evened love. Reader: witness this self knowing itself – a self assured by its self-honesty – its considered exposure to emotional risk. And see it re-gather into a loved self. That is not consolation. It’s pleasure.