Rhode Island State Poet Receives Award from Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets announced today that Tina Cane, State Poet of Rhode Island, has been named one of its 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. Cane, a resident of East Providence, will receive $50,000 to support community-based poetry projects throughout the Ocean State.

In Rhode Island, Cane will bring visiting poet workshops and residencies to underserved schools and community centers in Rhode Island. She will also organize and curate a reading series at the RISD Museum and local bookstores, as well as bring her Poetry-in-Motion, RI program to every public school in the state through a broadside poster initiative. In addition, Cane will develop the Youth Poetry Ambassador program she launched in 2017, with Rhode Island Center for the Book, to further engage youth across the state.

About Tina Cane

Tina Cane was born in New York City. She received a BA from the University of Vermont and an MA in French literature from Middlebury College. She is the author of Once More with Feeling (Veliz Books, 2017), as well as the chapbooks Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante (Skillman Avenue Press, 2016) and The Fifth Thought (Other Painters Press, 2008), a book-length poem. The recipient of a Fellowship Merit Award from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Cane is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, Rhode Island, for which she works as a visiting poet. She has taught French, English, and creative writing in public and private schools throughout New York City and Rhode Island. In 2016 she was selected to be the sixth poet laureate of Rhode Island. She lives in Providence. 

Shelter in Place – a poem by Tina Cane…

Schools are shuttered     everything is cancelled     and my body has become

an extension of my house     this shift is strange     but not entirely unfamiliar

the way a cardinal’s home     is a disordered stick bomb     just about captures

how I feel

        how the mother bird uses her shape     as a template to form her nest

shoving sticks together     in a fit of random engineering     randoming would be

the verb I guess     or jamming as it applies to me

                                                                                a steady state of hysteresis

in which applied pressure     changes the ensemble     in which the structure

bounces back     but not completely

                                                      I’ve been thinking

of ways to speak     to my children about fear     how to be adaptive

I want to tell them     about zebra finches     who are content in captivity

and who unlike robins     which favor mud as cement     make their nests

from anything they find     strips of paper or string     fibers from a coconut husk

I want to stress     that these elements the finches assemble     seem haphazardly

placed but behave collectively     how there’s a logic buried     deep in the mother

building her nest     which is a story of the nature of her body     as every child’s

first home     that we don’t struggle alone     as the architects of our days

that nature will continue     to amaze us      in ways we don’t expect

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