Sholl House of SparrowsDate & Time: February 28 | 7 PM
Location: Longfellow Books, Portland

The MWPA and Longfellow Books are pleased to celebrate the launch of Betsy Sholl’s brand new Four Lakes Prize-winning collection House of Sparrows: New and Selected Poems, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Sholl, who served as Maine Poet Laureate from 2006 to 2011, is the author of nine poetry collections including Otherwise Unseeable (winner of the 2015 Maine Literary Award for Poetry), Rough Cradle, Late Psalm, Don’t Explain, and The Red Line.


The bluesy, rich, and vital poems in House of Sparrows look for grace and beauty not outside of the suffering world but within it. Betsy Sholl explores the shifting ironies and contradictions in the stories we tell—how the apple is both medicinal and poison, and how the poor are spiritually rich. Her language mines the landscapes of Appalachia, New England, and the works of Dante and St. Francis, seeking music and moral clarity in the breakages and noisy contradictions of life. By turns meditative and vivid, these new and selected poems suggest that all journeys are in part journeys of the spirit.


“This magnificent collection proves yet again why Betsy Sholl is one of our truly indispensable writers, whose poems engage what must be addressed if we are to fully encounter, as she writes in her triumphant title poem, ‘the wailing, the how, the when.’ I remain awestruck by her artistry.”—Sascha Feinstein

House of Sparrows collects poems that conjure the work of Philip Levine, Ruth Stone, Robert Hayden, and Gwendolyn Books. Like those great poets, Betsy Sholl interrogates the gravity and grace of living. The Blues are often her companion. Elegy is shaped by emotional and formal resilience, by compassion and ingenuity. Sholl’s new and selected work is full of remarkable soul and language. This terrific collection reminds poets and poetry lovers of her enduring talent and significance.”—Terrance Hayes

“It’s difficult to love the world enough, especially for someone like Betsy Sholl, who sees with such searing clarity its cruelty and sorrow. But, like Keats, she dares to, in poem after poem in this masterly collection. And we are all the richer for it.”—David Jauss

“I love Sholl’s unyielding honesty, the great heart and deep intelligence of her vision.”—Nancy Eimers


The MWPA is proud to co-host Sholl’s book launch with Longfellow Books.
This event is co-sponsored by the MWPA thanks in part to the support of the Kirby Family Foundation.