2 local poets score book deals

Two Jamaica Plain poets have each scored publishing deals that will result in their first poetry books.

Jennifer Markell and Sandra Storey are both members of the local group Jamaica Pond Poets. Markell’s book “Samsara” will come out late this year or early next year. Storey’s book “Every State Has Its Own Light” is slated for a 2014 publication.

The title of Markell’s “Samsara” refers to the “Buddhist and Hindu term for the cycle of life and death and rebirth,” Markell told the Gazette. The poetic theme of “how to break through the cycle of suffering” overlaps with her work as a therapist, she said.

“I’m interested in people’s stories and the universal struggles that people have to grapple with,” she said.

In 2005, Markell published a chapbook called “Leaving the Green Elm Market,” the title of which alluded to her encounter with a homeless person at a former market at Centre Street and Robinwood Avenue in JP.

Storey is the founding editor and publisher of the Gazette and continues to write the paper’s “JP Observer” column. She previously co-authored the non-fiction book “Women in Citizen Advocacy: Stories of 28 Shapers of Public Policy.” Her lyrical poetry has been published in various literary magazines, including “The New York Quarterly.”

Storey told the Gazette that her time living in Southeast Asia in 1968-1972 and life in JP are among the influences on her poems. She often gets ideas while contemplating the view from the top floor of her JP triple-decker, she said.

“I have several poems from my third-floor porch perspective,” she said, adding that some of her poems address transit noise and other urban issues. “I guess I actually have quite a few poems that are set in or influenced by JP,” she said.

Storey will take part in a reading by another local group, the Carpenter Poets, later this month at Forest Hills Cemetery. [See Sights & Sounds listing.]

Markell and Storey both credited Jamaica Pond Poets as a big influence on their work. Unusually for poetry groups, it has met weekly for years, currently at the Jamaica Plain Branch Library. Members workshop each others’ poems and help organize readings.

“It’s a great blend of helpful criticism and support, not just patting on the back,” Markell said of the group.

“I can see their tracks through my poems,” Storey said.

“Samsara” will be published by the Turning Point imprint, and “Every State Has Its Own Light” by the Word Press imprint. For more information about Jamaica Pond Poets, see jamaicapondpoets.com.

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