The Hippo


Sep 23, 2019








“Talking to God Through Poetry” with Midge Goldberg

Where: Etz Hayim Synagogue, 1½ Hood Road, Derry
When: Thursday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m. 
Cost: Free 
More info: 

Praying in verse
Local poet Midge Goldberg talks poetry and spirituality

By Angie Sykeny

 Seventeen years ago Chester poet and author Midge Goldberg took a creative writing class to learn how to write short stories, but something happened during the class that she didn’t expect. 

“We got to the poetry module and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I never ended up writing any short stories. I started writing poetry and have been writing it ever since.” 
Goldberg went on to publish two books of poetry: Flume Ride, released in 2006, and Snowman’s Code, officially released in 2016. The latter was awarded the 2015 Richard Wilbur Poetry Award and the 2016 New Hampshire Literary Awards Reader’s Choice Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry.
On Thursday, Oct. 26, Goldberg will speak at the Etz Hayim Synagogue on “Talking to God Through Poetry” as the first program in the synagogue’s “Hot Topics, Cool Stuff” free continuing education series happening this fall and winter. 
Goldberg said that her Jewish heritage often inspires her writing, and a number of her poems are based on Jewish prayers or include a dialogue with God or simply her reflections on God and religion. In her poem “Snowman’s Code,” she writes of a big snowman talking to a little snowman, advising him not to be jealous of other snow creations like snow angels, but to be grateful for the hands that formed him in that place and at that time. 
“The idea comes from this Jewish prayer which says that, at any given moment, be happy you’re here and alive,” Goldberg said. “My hope is that the idea transcends one religion. My take on it just happens to come from my Jewish background.”
At the synagogue program, Goldberg will talk about how poetry and prayer relate to each other and how poetry can be used as a means of exploring spirituality. 
“Traditional prayers are very official; you follow what someone else tells you to say. Then there are things that, if you talk to God or think about spirituality, you say to God when you’re alone. Poetry is kind of in the middle of those two things,” she said. “It’s one individual’s thoughts that mean something to them, but it’s also shared so that others can take something away from it.” 
Other themes found in Goldberg’s poetry include growing up in Florida, the transition from Florida to New Hampshire; traveling and the United States landscape; family, children and motherhood; love; time travel; day-in-the-life moments and ordinary objects. She also writes poems inspired by specific people, places and stories she hears, and poems narrated in the voice of other real or imagined persons. 
“Pretty much anywhere and anyone can end up in a poem of mine, so you better look out,” Goldberg joked. 
Most recently, her series of poems titled “The Fire Tender” was featured in Mezzo Cammin, a web journal dedicated to formal poetry written by women. The series includes five poems, each written from the perspective of a worker at an inn: the fire tender, the florist, the bartender, the baker and the piano player. 
“Sometimes I like to step outside myself,” Goldberg said. “I like to pretend that I’m someone else in my poetry.” 
Goldberg is currently putting together a collection of poems for another anthology book — she’s about halfway done, she said — and a series of around eight poems to be published in a magazine dedicated to humorous poetry next summer. She is also looking to have her new mystery novel, The Northern Pass, published. The novel is set in the Franconia area of New Hampshire and features a protagonist inspired by a waitress Goldberg once encountered and wrote a poem about.  
“I started imagining her whole life story in this poem,” she said. “But even after I wrote the poem, she stayed in mind, so I decided to make her the main character in my mystery story.” 

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