Calendar Girls: Poems 2022
by Tobi Alfier
Poetry ~ Full Color Artwork ~ 26 Pages
Format: 8 ½” x 11” ~ Paperback
Price: $8.00
Publisher: Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library
ISBN-13: 979-8481909332
To Order:

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

In his seminal poem, “The Human Seasons,” by John Keats, Spring is lusty,
Summer is nearest unto heaven, in Autumn fair things pass by unheeded as a
thresh hold brook,
and Winter, has his pale misfeature. Keats is relating to the
seasons as a framework for life. I thought about Keats’ wisdom and my own
approach to calendars. For me, calendars with their convenient little squares
where I make my lists and check items off as I complete them, mean little more
to me than a tool; a utilitarian instrument to get me through the day, the week,
the month, and so on. However, upon receiving my review copy of Tobi Al-
fier’s Calendar Girls: Poems 2022, I’ve taken the occasion to refresh the brow-
ser of my mind, to open the door of fresh perspectives on time and on life. I’m
glad I did.

This beautifully appointed 8 ½” x 11” perfect bound calendar, can be imagined
as a poetry book with a 2022 calendar or as a 2022 calendar with poetry. Your
reviewer prefers the latter. I like to begin each month with the current poem
superimposed on the artwork appropriate to each month. Eight photographers
contributed to the art works chosen for the final draught. [See listing at the

I know good ekphrastic poetry when I read it. The Greek term ekphrasis, refers
to “description.” That is to say, the poet engages in describing the visual sub-
ject before her. But there is more to this process that mere description. The poet
invests herself emotionally and intellectually in her subject. She is not a foren-
sic scientist; she sings out with full throat and open heart the impact con-
ferred by her subject.

In this case, the seasons provide the visual. With a keen eye for nature’s nu-
ances and a practiced ear for rhythm and cadence, Alfier writes her represen-
tative poems in couplet form. Twenty lines suffice for each month. The style is
a perfect fit for the page. She employs a 16-point, sans serif type font for easy-
on-the-eye reading.

Most importantly, however, these are good poems. The poet knows what she is
doing. Her lines flow naturally, unforced. She does not attempt to rhyme her
lines. I appreciate this because invariably a commitment to rhyme at all costs
results in contrived artificiality. Instead, Alfier expresses how each month
moves her. This is not greeting card verse. For example, she sees January as a
month in which …

        Secrets course through everything.
        There’s nowhere to go.

        No twilight. No graceful hour
        to let the pins from your hair,

        shake your mane into your lover’s palm.

April highlights a gorgeous field of red poppies, yellow and white daisies, pur-
ple clover, all in company with lush green grasses. For this visual delight, Al-
fier writes:

        Spring is a fading map of winter.
        As the sun strips ice from fields,

        she exhales. It’s time to put down
        her hair, put on her bracelets,

        and spin and spin and spin.

Like a skilled lead-guitarist, Alfier’s fingers hit the right notes to fit the music
suggested by the photographs.

In June:

        The days are fastened to thick, warm weather
        as summer begins to begin. Tourists remain

        like ghosts in the haunted hell of employment—
        calendars still list commitments the way crows

        peck at roadkill, heads down, they ignore the steaming
        asphalt as they wait for their turns to eat and get the hell gone.

As I noted earlier, this poet does not write greeting card verse, does not deal in
Hallmark channel sentimentality. That is what I like about Alfier’s verse. She
has an innate sense about what people go through in their lives.

October’s photograph is of an island shrouded in blue twilight, the water re-
flects the dark blue, punctuated by gentle white ripples. Of this scene the poet

        She wanted a lover so unique he could be an uncharted island,
        was perfectly happy to sit by the fire in her moth-eaten sweater,

        listening to the breeze through far-off willows, singing songs
        remembered by those who’d never left this town and didn’t care.

        He was out there, just as surely as the wind made acorns fall
        and moonlight flutter across any water. Soon she will find him,

        when she walks away from this town that raised her, the way September
        moves along to make room for October, with all its shadows.

Friends, Calendar Girls: Poems 2022, can be imagined as a poetry book with a
2022 calendar or as a 2022 calendar with poetry. Whichever way you view this
unique work of visual and written art, you will not be disappointed.

Contributing artists: Gábor Adonyi, George B, Aadya Chidanand, Tove Erbs,
Dae Jeung Kim, Gael Moisson, Michelle Raponi, Kevin Schmid, r soos.  

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