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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Go Unto the Altar of Night

We now reach the end of April, National Poetry Month, which we have celebrated with the U.S. poets laureate.

Next month, we shall feature the works of the remaining American Laureates and then present poems by some British Laureates. (Britain’s office of the poet laureate served as the model for the American post.)

(Barbara Sullivan Mangogna, at a poetry reading, April 17, 2011)

This month, however, ends on a sad note. A dear friend of this blog, Barbara Sullivan Mangogna, passed away peacefully, late on Palm Sunday.

Barbara was a poet who helped others hear how the spoken word can sing with rhythm and rhyme. She loved poetry of every kind, from the romantic verses of Yeats, to the reflective lines of Auden, and to the free verse of the moderns.

But it was a fondness for the Belle of Amherst, for all things Emily, that was our special connection. Barbara loved e-mailing me about the joy she felt about a phrase, a line, or a verse of Miss Dickinson’s, or when she came across a new book or a website about the poet.

When I think of Barbara’s goodness and generosity, I hear Emily’s phrasing of Christ’s words on the cross:

My Guest “Today in Paradise”
I give thee guaranty.

As a woman who had suffered the amputation of a leg due to rheumatoid arthritis, Barbara appreciated the healing power of poetry. The following poem of hers was originally printed in Blindness Isn’t Black, a beautiful collection of poems, short stories, and illustrations published by the VSA Arts of Missouri (2009), dedicated to publicizing the arts created by people with disabilities.

We published the poem on this blog on May 19 last year.

It is a fitting memorial.


here I am no longer broken

but dance
to the music of memory

flaunt my living flesh
my crutchlessness

celebrate the legs that still
carry me to morning

~ Barbara Sullivan Mangogna


dylan said...

Very moving.

May she rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

My sister.Barbara loved books as a child.
She moved onto writing.
Poetry became the main focus and
greatest relief. I quote her " I could say anything, and like
Emily Dickinson-hide it in a
drawer" end quote.Barbara's first public reading had good critique; encouraged ,she grew as a poet in the midst of this group.
She published poetry and had learned to read publicly without
fear of rejection.
Barbara said" Poetry is my prayer,
my joy and my song"
Rest my beloved little sister in the eternal source of prayer, joy and song. You remain source to us.
Mary Vitiello

The old gentleman... said...

Thank you for this account of a valiant woman...

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