The Black River Chapbook Competition Winner


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Inconsiderate Madness

Publication Date: March 2007


Winner of the 2005 Black River Chapbook Competition

In addition to being chosen as the winner of the 2005 Black River Chabook Competition, Inconsiderate Madness was also named as a finalist for the 2008 Julia Ward Howe Award by the Boston Authors Club. Inconsiderate Madness was also named a Highly Recommended Book by Massbooks of the Year in the 8th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards. Seven poems from the book were selected by composer Dr. Lynn Petersen as the basis for her song cycle, “Mary Dyer, Martyr” which premiered in 2006 in Missoula, Montana. One of the poems in the chapbook, “Return of Mary Dyer, Who Anticipates Execution, May 1660” was a Worcester Review Honorable Mention in the 2006 Worcester County Poetry Association competition.


“Helen Marie Casey’s powerful poems about a dark period of American history when people were hanged by zealots in the name of God are a necessary reminder for our contemporary world of how power combined with prejudice can persecute and ultimately silence voices. Casey chronicles the life of Mary Dyer who was hanged because of her Quaker faith, illuminating Dyer’s courage in her determination to sustain an identity in a hostile world. Without these important poems, names like the Quakers William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson who were hanged, then stripped and thrown naked into a hole for the wolves, might be erased like New England gravestones whose letters have been worn down by time. Casey’s poems are compelling because her characters are embedded in a matrix of location and values that create believable identities drawing power from place: a black bird against a winter sky observed by Anne Bradstreet or ‘the ember- colored cardinal’s song’ Anne Hutchinson hears on the day she is killed by Indians. Throughout, Casey’s lyrical voice resonates, her poems compassionate but never sentimental or dogmatic. Inconsiderate Madness offers us Mary’s ‘wilding voice against the dark’ to sustain us and her spirit as a ‘flag for others / who abhor such laws as these’ to teach us to persevere, to not be closed by blackness in other hearts, but to flower by staying open to love.”

-Vivian Shipley

About the Author

Helen Marie Casey

Helen Marie Casey, winner of the first Black River Chapbook Poetry Prize, the 14th National Poet Hunt Prize, the 2012 Barbara Bradley Award, and the 2012 Anita McAndrews Award, is a finalist for the 2013 Loft Prize for Poetry. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, among them Connecticut Review, The South Carolina Review, Tiferet, Louisiana Literature, The MacGuffin, The Larcom Review, The Laurel Review, The Worcester Review, and several anthologies. In addition to her biography, My Dear Girl, and her chapbook, Inconsiderate Madness, Helen has published the chapbook, Fragrance Upon His Lips, and a monograph, Portland’s Compromise: The Colored School 1867-1872. Helen is available for poetry readings, presentations, and panels.

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