Literary Arts

“If there was no delight in the process of making poems – in sharpening one’s attention, tuning the ear and mind to the deep musicality of speech and thought – I doubt that poets would persist in that labor. Every writer that I know has, during some or all of their years, worked a second job just for the privilege of working full-time at their primary and all-encompassing occupation. And I believe it is the responsibility of poets to make sure that delight is available to their readers as well – not only within the texts themselves but in the sorts of surprising situations where readers first confront the poem.” – Steven Ratiner
Read more about our Literary Art Projects!

Poetry Inspires Artistic Collaboration in Arlington

ArtLinks members were given the unique opportunity to collaborate with Arlington’s Poet, Steven Ratiner for a special art show on view now at the Arlington Center for the Arts. Steven shared several of his poems and members of the ArtLinks community created works in response.

On Wednesday March 3, 27 attendees enjoyed the ArtLinks Arlington virtual opening event. As the pieces were presented, Steven read aloud the corresponding poems. Participating artists spoke about what the poems meant to them and how the poems related to their pieces. Many art mediums are present in this show: paintings, fiber arts, collage, photography, and film.

The show has an intimate, engaging feeling and can be viewed in person through March 31, M-F, 10am-2pm. Limit of two visitors, by appointment only. Email at the Arlington Center for the Arts, 20 Academy Street, Arlington. ArtLinks looks forward to next year’s collaborative event and welcome suggestions.

ArtLinks Arlington offers members a variety of monthly events and networking opportunities. New members of all art forms are welcome to join. Email here for more information

Meet Arlington’s Poet Laureate
Introducing Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate – and his mission: Delight!
One of Robert Frost’s famous lines makes the claim that “a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom” – and Steven Ratiner takes him at his word.  Ratiner was appointed as Arlington’s third Poet Laureate. In April 2020, at the start of National Poetry Month, he launched the Red Letter Poems Project, releasing a series of weekly poems shared virtually during Covid-19 social distancing.

Selected Poems by Steven Ratiner

So It Goes

Hover, drift, sidle, twist,
dipping a wing, leveling off,
great feather-light planes of color
threaded together like a Miró
mobile suspended in a gulf
of darkness inside some museum
of forgotten days, the faces of strangers
gazing upward, mouthing words you
cannot make out from this all-
consuming distance: hospice, the bed-
side gathering, the long night followed
by the even longer morning.


Not the fat mandala the meteorologists
were touting on the news but
a dime-sized jewel floating beneath us
in the pond’s black skies which
my grandson, nearly two, snatches up
in his small fist. Opening it slowly
convinced of what he possesses,
and by what he’s possessed
he offers me his wet palm.
I kiss the moon there.

Transcendental Postcard

Wish you were here. Here,
the downpour has let up
and sail blades divide
one blue from another.
The eye bathes in light’s
sheer indifference.
Like carved figureheads,
bearded iguanas stare out from
the smooth limbs of the turpentine.
This whole island is a prow
rocking at anchor. You’d
have loved this blue stillness.
I’d have loved any weather
which delayed your departure.


After the stroke, when language
froze over in this throat, he had a hard timewith the snow — He couldn’t say,
and the sky wouldn’t stop saying —

We went walking, and the tracks
in our wake — And the cardinal-

red calligraphy scribbled between trees —
And the ticking like Morse across hat brim —

And the time I was certain his hiss
was about to coalesce into Steven —

And the dream I kept having: moon-
slick trail rising between birch ribs, breath

becoming smoke, ink becoming breath —
Writing these words across the page —

And even before the sentence is complete,
the footprints filling up with white —