Poet With Local Ties ‘Shakes’ Things Up With New Collection

Local poet Jennifer Franklin is celebrating National Poetry Month with the release of her new book, If Some God Shakes Your House, which was published by Four Way Books just a few weeks ago. In this collection of poems, Franklin reimagines Antigone as modern, unabashed and devoted to a truth that is not always reflected in her society.

This is the latest of three full-length collections by Franklin, who works locally as a teacher and Programs Director at the Hudson Valley Writers Center and as a teacher in Manhattanville’s MFA program. She has also been published in journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, poets.org, Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion, and most recently the 13th edition of the Bedford Introduction to Literature (Macmillian, October 2023), for which her poem “Momento Mori: Apple Orchard” was chosen. Read the poem below, and see Franklin read her work at the upcoming Westchester Poetry Festival on April 29 at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry.






By Jennifer Franklin


In the golden light of early October, we climb

the orchard hills searching empty trees

for apples. The boy at the gate tells us Ida Red,

Rome, Crispin, and Surprise are all ripe

and ready for our hands. We walk and walk.

The dog investigates every fallen apple

with her frantic nose. Even as we savor

the autumnal sunlight of our beginning,

it is the end of almost everything else. Large

families have picked the trees clean, leaving

plastic bottles and paper napkins blowing

like white flags. I want the fragrant apples

on the ground to remind me of my mother baking

but I catch the smell of decay.


I catch the smell of decay

as we walk through so many rows

of stubby trees that we cannot find our way

back to the car. We do not say what we’re thinking—

if we leave without a single apple, it might mean

what we do to the earth cannot be undone.

The children who grow up on the ruined planet

will not remember pulling the russet fruit

from a branch to bite into the sweet flesh. We see

boys throw bruised apples at each other. Still children,

they already know what is damaged becomes a weapon.

As we pull away, we watch them run the worn paths.

Their masks fall as they bend to collect

the blemished apples and fill their empty bags.



[published with permission from the author]

About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to create an equitable, inclusive, vibrant and sustainable Westchester County in which the arts are integral to and integrated into every facet of life. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue. artsw.org

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