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Hope Is a Muscle

Betsy Snider is a retired attorney who lives on a lake in rural New Hampshire with her cat Sophie and the ghosts of her many dogs. When she is not swimming or hiking, she writes poetry and has volunteered as a CASA Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children. She was first published in the ground-breaking anthology, Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence (Naiad Press, 1985). Her poetry has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, most recently in River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the 21st Century (Blue Light Press, 2015); You Must Remember This (Poetry Society of New Hampshire, 2015); Poet's Showcase (Hobblebush Press, 2015); and Love Over 60: an anthology of women poets (Mayapple Press, 2010). She is also a winner of the 2015 Blue Light Book Award for her new book of poems, Hope is a Muscle. ENDORSEMENTS: In this unusual collection of poems, Betsy Snider takes us back to her youthful years as a nun, when she tried to escape from a troubled childhood and then struggled to surrender instead to the safety of the convent's strict rules. Throughout the long course of the writer's life, her spirit is strong, and the poems later lead us forward to a new life in rural New Hampshire. Often wrought with precise detail, in straightforward and deeply felt language, her poems are suffused with yearning-for a lover, for heat, for Greece, for the sensuous life-as she suffers the silence of both God and love, and struggles to choose between a loss of freedom and freedom's risks. Always, she desires "anything but this / dread ... where / ... I fall beneath the boots / of doubt." Revealing a seemingly indefatigable inner life, Snider's poems do not shrink from pain or despair, and yet hope keeps returning, a "muscle" that flexes like wings to resurrect us time and again. -Alice B. Fogel, New Hampshire Poet Laureate, Author of Interval: Poems Based on Bach's 'Goldberg Variations, and Be That Empty. In Hope is a Muscle, Betsy Snider draws the reader into her world, past and present, through language that shines with perfectly chosen details and the life-giving spiritual energy driving them. "A lifetime ago, I faltered under the weight/ of a head dress and white veil.../only a cold stone floor under my knees./ Now I wait for someone, anyone, to call me/home across the black hole of my longing..."These are poems of calling, resistance and difficult grace. Exposing the intensity at the core of a woman's life, they read like haunting hymns or prayers to both the physical world and the world of the spirit. I found myself saying again and again, "Yes! It happens this way," and I finished the book thinking, "This is what poetry is for!" -Mary Kay Rummel, Poet Laureate of Ventura County, CA, Author of The Lifeline Trembles, and What's Left is the Singing. The poems in Hope is a Muscle let the reader into snippets of Betsy Snider's life. The anthesis and four sections take us to places most have never been. Each poem is a close examination of what drives Snider to write. I am glad she does. Be prepared as you read these poems for the surprises along the way. -James Fowler, Author of Falling Ashes and Connections to This World.
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