Stacey Balkun, Festival Assistant
Measured and contemplative, Penny Harter’s poetry recognizes nature both in subject and in form. The imagery within her poems ranges from mourning doves on a windowsill to abandoned gas stations lining the highways of New Jersey. Harter’s poem “Driving Through the New Jersey Dusk” is a haibun—a form combining prose with haiku. Harter uses an arrangement of prose and haiku to describe not only the scenery alongside a highway but also the psychology of driving, the voyage through one’s memories while traveling across the landscape.
In an interview on Blogging Along Tobacco Road, Harter says that the act of writing poetry “is, first and foremost, an act of seeing, followed by connecting,” as suggested by her calm and observant poetry. The speaker in Harter’s poems often offers an image and then connects it to a universal truth, such as in “The Night Sky” from Harter’s book Lizard Light.
Harter has received several fellowships in poetry from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as a fellowship for teaching from the Dodge Foundation. In addition to these fellowships, she has received the Mary Carolyn Davies Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and the William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award, among others. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including Contemporary American Voices and Umbrella.
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