Sunday, June 22, 2014

Deep “ditties” from Hannie Voyles


Professor emeritus of English and linguistics, beloved Butte College instructor, Hannie Voyles seems to be more active in retirement than most folks are in their day jobs. She has shepherded many aspiring writers to publication and now, with a new book of poetry, offers her own take on a crazy world.

“These are thumbnail word sketches,” she writes, “intended to be/ short, easy, and immediate/ about—our best and worst selves:/ our moments,/ our moment in the mirror…/ May they encourage introspection.” Don’t call them “literature.” Rather, she writes in a “Disclaimer,” focus on the message. “These pieces aim to bring a smile, a frown, a fury… or perhaps an eyebrow raised. They are for fun because ‘fun’ is also serious stuff.”

“Moments In The Mirror” ($16.95 in paperback, self-published; available locally at Lyon Books in Chico), by Hannie J. Voyles, is divided into three sections. “The Whimsical” is a “collection of itty-bitty ditties that let us have it in the face.” There’s a bit of salty language here, so be prepared. And be prepared to think. In “Conundrum,” for example, Voyles writes: “I am no longer what I was/ yet what I was remains./ But each day my ‘what’ will change/ so the what will add/ to what remains/ for the who that I become.”

The second section gets “Serious.” In “Vapor, “Words are disappearing/ I don’t know where they go—/ Yesterday I had a word/ but today that is not so—/ Words are disappearing/ filling me with fear/ that they go into hiding/ and may not reappear….”

Finally, the third section, “Deadly,” about her wartime experiences and the children lost, always the children. “She was not the only one,” Voyles says in “Anne Frank,” “although it seems that way….” The others must be remembered, too. In “Children: 1940-1945,” she writes: “Searching through the earth and sky/ the universe and firmament./ Why did so many have to die?….”

Join Hannie Voyles for a book signing and reading at Lyon Books in Chico, Wednesday, June 25 at 7:00 p.m.

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