Patricia Fargnoli, the New Hampshire Poet Laureate from 2006-2009, is the author of six collections of poetry. Her newest book is Winter, Hobblebush Books, 2013. Her other three full-length books Then, Something, Duties of the Spirit and Necessary Light each were award winning (The Sheila Mooton Award, The ForeWord Magazine Silver Award for Poetry, The May Swenson Award and The NH Literary Award for Outstanding Poetry. In addition she has published three chapbooks: Small Songs of Pain; Lives of Others, and Greatest Hits.
A retired clinical social-worker, “Pat” has been a Macdowell Fellow and is a past Associate Editor of The Worcester Review. She has been on the faculty of The Frost Place Poetry Festival and its teaching conference, and has taught at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, for Road Scholars, and in the Lifelong Learning Program (CALL) of Keene State College. She currently teaches privately.
Awards for her poems include: an honorary B.F.A. from The New Hampshire Institute of Art; The Robert Frost Foundation Award and five Pushcart nominations. She was twice a finalist for The Nation, Discovery Award.
A native of Connecticut and a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford College for Women and the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, she has published more than 300 poems in such journals as: Poetry, Ploughshares, The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, Barrow Street, Alaska Quarterly et. al.
A member of The New Hampshire Writer’s Project and the New England Poetry Club, she’s lived for over twenty years in New Hampshire. Pat died in February of 2021. A memorial service was held in Enosburgh Falls, VT, on June 12 where she is buried next to her mother.
Patricia’s Latest book, Winter (Hobblebush Books, 2013)
“There is a prologue to the articulate—that is the silence,” said Derek Wolcott. “When that silence arrives, it can be the beginning of art.” As a prologue to her poems, Pat Fargnoli has listened deeply to the silence of winter, and the result is a collection of poems that capture the flame of the fox, the hunger of horses, and the solitude of snow—“ the flakes settling on your parka / like the dust from just-born stars.” What is articulated through these poems stems not from reticence, but from quiet observation and wisdom. Such great attention teaches us “the natural world comes to join you / if you go out to meet it,” and so we come to
understand that “truth is found in silence.”
There are so many messages I can’t interpret.
The hundred maples at the edge of my street shout orange, orange, orange,
in silent voices. And may say more if I could decipher.
How I want to understand the many calls of the birds migrating through
on their long journey. And what is the message of the shaggy
wave-curled sea quarreling around the black rocks out at the far point?
Perhaps words themselves wander off into other fields, like sheep lost
in the depths of the hills beyond the local hills so that the shepherd has to go climbing
up and down, his legs aching, his breath heavy in his chest until he spies them
off there under that far evergreen, and wrestles them down and brings them home.
This photograph captures the low, ice laden clouds hovering over Mount Monadnock. The picture was taken from route 124 west of Jaffrey Center, NH at 2:41pm on the afternoon of February 1, 2006. The camera settings were 1/30 second at F/11 with ISO set to 200. The lens used was a Nikon 18-200mm set to the 35mm equivalent of 27mm. The camera was a NIKON D2X digital camera.
When I walked in the forest it was April.
Deer pellets were mounded here and there
on fallen leaves and under low cedar branches.
Twice I saw scat–I couldn’t tell what it signified.
When I stopped to listen, the wild was silent
except for the rumble of the logging truck far away.
The duff was spongy beneath my sneakers.
I walked carefully, and as far in as I dared
trying to keep sight of the road and the field.
But the forest drew me into its vast density.
I lost the road, the field, and all sense of direction.
Once I bent to touch two waxy fingers
reaching up from the forest floor,
and once to run both palms over a stump
wholly green and soft with moss.
Near a marshy place, a wagon wheel leaned
against a hillock. It had been there so long
it was the antique green/brown of a Roman relic.
It began to rain.
Once I heard hooves snapping fallen branches.
They were always behind me.
I turned in a full circle; and turned again,
I saw nothing
but I swear I heard some spirit go away
brushing its sharp antlers against the trees.
This early morning photograph of Mount Monadnock overlooking a pasture shows no signs of spring. The picture was taken from route 124 in Jaffrey Center, NH at 11:24 am on the morning of September 18, 2003. The camera settings were 1/180 second at F/7.1 with ISO set to 200. The lens used was a Nikon 28-300 mm set to the 35mm equivalent of 42mm. The camera was a NIKON D100 digital camera.
You came to me first as dawn hauled up on ropes
of apricot above the blackened wall of white pine.
You came from the south, from the highest places,
came down the mountain running.
You were announced by the crows, the shrill
calls of alarm from the uppermost branches.
You opened your throats in a high harsh singing.
I didn’t know what you were and rose trembling
from the deck chair, stood breathless and still
where the woods surrounded me, gathered dark
and darker as if to stall the light.
You came down, two of you: one young and red-bright
the other old, rust streaked with gray.
You pretended not to know me and lay down
beneath a small granite ledge, lay on the fallen
needles, licking light into your fur.
You came to me because I have wanted you.
You came though I had asked for nothing,
because I was full as a river at flood tide
You came to me, rested and then rose, first one,
then the other, and ran downhill into the morning.
You who assumed the guise of foxes, come again
as you did that morning on the mountainside.
And wasn’t that you who came last summer
as whale boiling up from the waters of Jeffries Shoal?
Wasn’t it you who came in September as wood duck
over the Stoddard marshes, who flew parallel to my car window?
Come to me again as moose invisible on the night road.
Come the way deer steal across the field at dusk
Come as raccoon, as coyote. Come carrying your burden
of blood and shadow–
come joyous and light with song, come in sleep,
in the unexpected reaches of the day. I am waiting.
Come red-tailed or black-winged; come fluked
and finned, come clawed and taloned,
renew my breath, come full of the mystery
I am only beginning to know.
(published in Ploughshares)
An Interview with Patricia Fargnoli
Winter (Hobblebush Books, 2013)
Then, Something (Tupelo Press, 2009)
Duties of the Spirit (Tupelo Press, 2005)
Small Songs of Pain (Pecan Grove Press, 2004)
Necessary Light (Utah State University Press, 2000)
Greatest Hits (Pudding House Press, 2001)
Lives of Others (Oyster River Press, 1999)
On the Monadnock: The New American Pastoral Poets, Zhang Ziqing and Luo Zhu, eds.(Chinese Drama Press, Beijing, 2006)