Swarthmore College

Betsy Bolton Book Launch Party
Wednesday, May 8 at 3pm
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall

Come celebrate poetry and the Crum Woods! This event will feature readings by Betsy Bolton, author of Mouth Art of the Bald-faced Hornet, published by Finishing Line Press, and community members. Thanks to funding from the Aydelotte Foundation, books will be distributed free as long as supplies last. This event is also sponsored by English and Environmental Studies

Mouth Art of the Bald-faced Hornet explores connections between human beings and the other-than- human world, using the accessibility of nature poetry to invite readers into the more complex moral accounting of ecological history. Individual pieces revel in the uncanny beauty of the woods: wildflowers that propagate by passing through a turtle’s digestive tract, ants harvesting the honey- dew secretions of wooly aphids. Other poems delve into the various ways that material elements— creeks, trees, mills and dams—have shaped the last three hundred years of history with implications that continue to reverberate today. Like Daniel Hoffman’s Brotherly Love (1981), these poems dive deep into the impact of European settlers in the marshes and creek-lands around Lenapewihituck, the Delaware River—but where Hoffman leaned into William Penn’s dream of a peaceable kingdom, these poems approach the same history through a more skeptical, decolonial, materialist lens. All these poems include close observation of the other-than-human world even as they contend with very human concerns: sex, death, justice, survival, beauty, and joy.

Poetry that connects past and future, history and imagination, helps ground us in the unsteady present. Our survival will require us to develop new partnerships, new relationships, with our other- than-human neighbors: poetry can help us develop habits of close attention to those neighbors on whom we rely.

Betsy Bolton teaches literature, creative writing, & environmental studies at Swarthmore College, on Lenape land, at the edge of the Piedmont and the coastal plain. In her poetry, she works to reconnect readers with the landscapes of mid-Atlantic North America in all their beauty and complexity. Bolton’s recent poetry has appeared in journals such as The Hopper, New Croton Review, Snapdragon Journal, Gyroscope Review, Lammergeier Magazine, Amaranth Journal, Split Rock Review, Minnow Literary Magazine, Northern Appalachian Review, Notre Dame Review, Stone Canoe, and Ecozon@. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net. The sonnet “Broken” won first place in the modern category of the Helen Schaible 2022 International Sonnet Contest. Bolton has also served as a Fulbright scholar to both Morocco and Bhutan, where she facilitated the creation of digital stories (short, autobiographical videos) and filmed miniature documentaries of traditional crafts.