And thanks to the Fishouse, we can hear eight of her poems and some interviews at the Fishouse website, http://www.fishousepoems.org/archives/betsy_sholl/index.shtml. I'm hooked on her 2009 volume, ROUGH CRADLE (Alice James Books). There are mellow reflections like the opening poem, "The Sea Itself," which fingers the old wounds of the teen years; and "Sparrow Farming," evocative of that fine old New York haunt, Gotham Book Mart. I like the shifts in form among Sholl's poems, from finely crafted triplet stanzas to longer ones of six lines each, with plenty of embedded alliteration to delight the ear and tongue.
Most of Sholl's poems are personal narratives laced with questions. "Doing Time" (with an explanatory line "Prison poetry workshop") opens with:
They call me "Babe" and make a kissing noiseSeparating the pressed petals of mother, stepdad, the shapes and hauntings of the 20th century, Sholl's fingers invite long moments of contemplation. And when she dips into multiple levels of pain and loss and beauty, as in "Noche Oscura," she tests the premise that the dark night may be sweeter than dawn.
from inside their bars and inside their rage.
Most of them are men, though they act like boys
who've played too hard and broken all their toys.
Now they're trying to break their metal cage.
They yell out "Babe," make that loud kissing noise
as if their catcalls mean they have a voice
routines and bells can't break.