Winter reading and writing are both comfort and challenge in the pale chill and sometimes stormy conditions of January. It is our special gift to experience such, here in the Midcoast, with our chowders and our literary tradition.


Make each particular haire to stand an end,

Like quills up on the fretfull porpentine.

Hamlet Act I, scene v.

─William Shakespeare

I cohabitate with a porcupine

during the winter when he is dormant

only somewhat though, as his pile of pellets

tells. Understand, he’s on the ground floor

while I am above in the writing house

courting a muse I increasingly think

moves slowly in a body covered with quills.

─Judith Robbins

Reading in a Cold Room

Heat radiates off highways in summer.

Perhaps in the desert it wavers off dunes.

Even in a domestic setting, stove heating

the winter house, those marcel waves

of heat rise, reassuring those who cold

need to know that wood continues to burn

hot. Just this morning I opened a book

in an unheated house and felt the cold

rise from it, like a dead thing, seeking heat,

my body heat, which in that world beyond

our own signals the presence, the desirable

presence of life. I look at the shelves around

me filled with books, each with how many

quires, sets and sets of facing pages

in a state of suspension of cold without

breath, waiting for me or someone alive

to open them and create a temperate zone.

─Judith Robbins

Judith Robbins lives along the Sheepscot River in Whitefield and has a writing house between field and wood where she goes to write most days.

William Shakespeare is a 17th century author of dramas and poetry whose echoes resound in virtually all drama and poetry since. Before Shakespeare, romance was not considered a proper subject for dramatic tragedy. How we've learned.

Happy New Year to you all and may it be graced with poetry. The year ahead looks sublimely poetic. In October 2014, the annual Belfast Poetry Festival will celebrate it's 10th anniversary and plans are already underway to make it a landmark event.

I am teaching "Things Could be Verse," a course in Modern Poetry for Belfast Senior College in the Winterim session, Jan. 9 to Jan. 30. To register for any Senior College Course, assuming space is still available, contact or call 338-8033.

The next Poetry/Spoken Word Jam, an open reading at Bell the Cat in Belfast, is Friday Jan. 17. Signup to read is at 6:30 p.m. and the readings start at 7 p.m. Poets and poetry lovers of all ages and stripes, spoken word artists and performance poets and teams are welcome to come and deliver theirs or others' works.

Poets Corner is curated by Ellen Sander, the Poet Laureate of Belfast, and open to submissions. Send submissions in the body of an email (not an attachment) to Feel free to use that email address to communicate any questions, requests, suggestions or issues about poetry in Belfast. Poet Laureate office hours will resume Jan. 14 and continue Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in the Belfast Free Library third floor conference room.