Posts Tagged ‘Oz Hardwick’


Do not flinch from the day’s whisper,
the words on the page, the reverberation
of air. Grip them tight in prickling palms
until your eyes weep flowers.

For there are those who would steal names,
wind dead artists in neat flags
in sterile rooms that none may enter.
Draw your pen from stone. Write the day.



In a castle open to the stars,
a girl, neither princess nor servant,
sews a coat of leaves, red and gold,
threaded with earthscent, cries of crows.

She can’t remember why, but knows
that, come morning, she will wrap herself close
in its moist rustling, crown her locks with frost,
and step her shadow through chestnut lanes.

Oz Hardwick
Originally published as Poem 337 in HIV Here & Now

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9m BEAL-NewCrops-2015

“Other pilgrims pace restlessly through this book: Jane Beal finds poetry when she visits landmarks in Rome, but her most striking entry in New Crops from Old Fields consists solely of questions Muslims and Jews asked her in the Holy Land. The poem is a remarkable distillation of the sort of grace and charity a pilgrimage should foster: a diminution of the self, and the generosity of letting others speak. Throughout her poetry, Beal makes the medieval personal—a fox on the roadside reminds her of the Reynard of fable, and she writes in the voices of Caedmon and Dante—and her destination is the answer to an intimate question: ‘What shape does the shadow of my life form / when I take my stand in the light of God?'”

~ Jeff Sypeck, “We’ll find the speck of truth in each riddle …” (review of New Crops)

“Jane Beal captures the essence of the simultaneous distinction between, and union of, being a medievalist and a poet: “As a medievalist, I must translate older forms of English, French, and Latin . . . into modern English. As a lyric poet, I must translate emotion and the memory of experience from my heart to my reader. In both cases, translation is a key that opens new doors” (5). As both medieval scholars and poets, we are compelled to ‘carry across’ past times, memory, place, emotion, and experience to others. Beal’s poetry crosses over from the medieval languages and literary allusions that propel each piece to the more tangible and familiar human emotions that permeate her poetry and her medieval sources. Beal’s travels in the holy land are encapsulated in a poem made up entirely of questions—“Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “Have you been to Bethlehem?” “When will you return to Israel?”—not only relating her memories of moments of experience but also the reality of the collision of the ancient, the medieval, and the modern worlds, of the ordinary and the extraordinary that we encounter as we search for our truths. In one poem, her Speaker encounters a “far-walking pilgrim,” a “shadow-walker.” This elicits a reflection and a question: “What shape does the shadow of my life form / when I take my stand in the light of God?” A devout faith seems to resonate from and to guide her poetry as it did the poets of the medieval world whose work informs Beal’s own.”

~ Julie A. Chappell, Review in Medievally Speaking

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When I was a little girl, my mother read to me all the time. One of the books she read to me was about Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. Brer Rabbit was always outsmarting Brer Fox —  and I was constantly entertained. One of their stories, involving de wonderful tar baby,  turned out to be a story I chose to read aloud  in my sixth grade public speaking class.  I read with all the vim, vigor and personality I could muster! My audience of fellow eleven year olds was thoroughly amused … they laughed out loud! … and I thought: who knew this was that funny?

Recently I was reminded that Brer Fox has his wily ways as well. The tradition of stories about the Fox Reynard,  which comes down to us from the Middle Ages, is alive and well. But then again, so are stories about magical rabbits …

In his book, The Illuminated Dreamer,  my friend Oz Hardwick celebrates both creatures. One of my favorite poems in his collection is called:

The Midnight Hare

Gold-foot, loping, leaping to light,
twisting to the smile on the silent field,
flying to the drum of the full Moon dance,
hops the hedge, legs spread loose,
lank, then taut, tight, sprightly
Springs, flips to perform, then:
Spellbound, sleek, almost
invisible, low on dark ground,
inscrutable hieroglyph of being, seeing
secrets deep behind honey eyes,
old as time, cold as stone,
alone with night, a million stars,
Up again, snatched from dreams,
darting to the mewse, the old ways,
pitched like a soft stone, silhouetted
on rising silver, high over water,
low across the Earth, drawn to the down,
the husk hushed, then wild, moonstruck,
shadow-boxing things unseen.

Another poem of his, that celebrates the fox, is worth contemplating, too: “Wood Fox.”  But to read that, I suggest you read the book.  You can pick up a beautiful copy of The Illuminated Dreamer from Oversteps Books.


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