National Poetry Month Spotlight: Helen Marie Casey

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2016! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections.

Today’s featured poet is Helen Marie Casey, who won the inaugural Black River Chapbook Competition with Inconsiderate Madness, a series of poems chronicling the life of Mary Dyer, a Quaker martyr.
caseycoversmallAdvice to Mary Dyer from an Old Woman
Mary Dyer, listen to me. There is evil in the wind.
I hear it circle. I hear it flap its great black wings
as if the devil himself will beat his way indoors.
We knew no cure, Mary, your unborn baby dead inside,
unable to get herself born.
Poor misshapen thing, never meant to live.
We buried her out back, beside the birch.
If they come searching here, say you do not know.
They will look for devil’s signs.
They will see what they have come to see.
Guard yourself, Mistress,
from men who come to do God’s will.
HelenHelen Marie Casey’s chapbooks include Fragrance Upon His Lips, a series of poems about Joan of Arc, and Inconsiderate Madness, a series of poems about Mary Dyer, which was named a Highly Recommended book by Massbooks of the Year/Poetry. Several of these poems were set to music by Lynn Petersen and sung by Kimberly Gratland James. She has also written a biography, My Dear Girl: The Art of Florence Hosmer. Her single monograph is: Portland’s Compromise: The Colored School 1867-1872. She won the 14th National Poet Hunt in 2010 and the 2014 Frank O’Hara Prize from the Worcester County Poetry Association. She was a semifinalist in the 2015 Paumanok Poetry Award competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.