Paula Bonnell

In the window . . .

Upcoming readings:

The reading scheduled for Thursday March 22, 2018
from 7 to 9 p.m. at Roslindale House, 120 Poplar Street in the Rozzie Reads series, HAS BEEN POSTPONED
based on March 20 forecast of severe weather. A NEW DATE and further details will be posted here as soon as available.


A poem published in The Poetry Porch can be found here:


Before the Alphabet

a story in free verse of a child's first school experience, a year in kindergarten:

Autographed copies of Before the Alphabet are now available.

Earlier news items about this book, followed by a reprint of a poem from the book.

A reading by Paula Bonnell from Air & Voices took place as scheduled at the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library in the early evening of Thursday April 18, 2013, the day before the city was locked down with a shelter-in-place directive as a result of events later Thursday evening. A small appreciative unterrorized audience made the evening successful despite the uncertainties then prevailing, and everyone involved -- author, publisher, and audience -- appreciated the BPL's commitment to having the show go on.

"The Faraway Nearby" -- from Airs & Voices -- was first published in the Winter 2008 issue of The Hudson Review.


I could live in the next life
if only I could get to it

Driving onto the promontory
again and again, I visit the screened porch

sleep in new-washed sheets
drink the breeze

and depart across the grilled
pause in the road

that is the bridge.  I look quickly
to left or right--is it high

or low tide? when will
I return to swim in it?

instead of bathing
in my sweat, laboring

to get here.  I mean,
to get there for I remain

mired in the city of tasks,
always something urgent

presented unexpectedly
at the very moment of departure.

Oh, the summer of voices, the presence
of the grass, the suggestion

of wings in the moving
leaves as I leave--over

and over again--when I long
to arrive and stay.

Copyright Paula Bonnell 2008, 2010, 2014.

The Poetry of Wislawa Szymborska

by Paula Bonnell

This essay originally appeared, in slightly different form, in Boston Review, April 1983.


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Airs & Voices is in stock at
Grolier Poetry Book Shop,
along with Before the Alphabet andMessage. 617.547.4648


You can buy Airs & Voices online from BkMk Press -- via the link in the sidebar and the gray order box at the top of the catalogue page.

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"Plain Speech" -- given below -- was first published in Southern Poetry Review.

Plain Speech

There are two great things: in the day, work;
in the night, heartbeats. Against these is the grave.
Not the sensory qualities of its earth lining,
but the isolation of the hole itself, the non-place.
In the day, love is as unseen as the sun;
it simply illumines with a general light.
In the dark, like the stars, it draws attention as
                                  it becomes particular.
Work is as unnoticed in the night as sleep;
the shadows which made the day's forms distinct
have come to a fullness, one that love rides.
The earth turns as imperceptibly as the sonnet
used to do; it's come about now.
Mouths touch and separate, feet feel the floor.
From the center, gravity holds everything down.

Copyright Paula Bonnell 1982, 1984, 1985, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010.

"Plain Speech" subsequently appeared in the ANTHOLOGY OF MAGAZINE VERSE & YEARBOOK OF AMERICAN POETRY (1984 Edition) and in the Boston Herald's April 2001 National Poetry Month feature. It also won a Cambridge Poetry Festival award. "Plain Speech" is included in the manuscript of Abracadabra, a finalist in the National Poetry Series.


at the Grolier:

. . .  in Cambridge, Massachusetts -- while the Phi Beta Kappa Society of nearby Harvard University listened to Albert Goldbarth, its Poet for the 2009 Literary Exercises -- the Grolier Poetry Bookshop window featured books including Airs & Voices . . .

All text on this website, including in downloadable form:
Copyright Paula Bonnell 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
All rights reserved.

Selected Works

In a handsome perfect-bound format, tales retold is poems giving new takes on stories from myth, fables, folk & fairy tales, even 20th-century news. Principal and minor characters offer their perspectives on what's happening.

"The life of the mind begins here."

-- Megan Marshall

author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

"The intelligent child [Bonnell] conjures up has a mind as supple and lively as these ecstatic, wry poems."

-- Miriam Levine

author of The Dark Opens and Devotion, a memoir

"The words a story in poems on the title page of Paula Bonnell's Before the Alphabet made me rejoice for narrative in contemporary poetry. Like all stories, these poems reveal a deeper story beneath the surface. I value this work greatly."

-- Nick Samaras

author of Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm

poetry books
The world as peaceable kingdom is interrupted by wars and rumors of wars.
Lyric and narrative poems, including "Eurydice," a re-telling of the myth
poetry collection manuscript
This as-yet unpublished collection was a finalist in the National Poetry Series. "Plain Speech" and "Scenic Postcard" -- both reachable through the Quick Links below -- are from Abracadabra.

Quick Links - to PB poems on the web & how to buy Before the Alphabet