Barbara Nickel

A Poem for Beth

 

On Tuesday, Beth Nickel–musician, mother of three, wife, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, colleague, reader of poetry, the list goes on–died of complications after surgery for brain cancer diagnosed only at the beginning of January.

Reeling with all who knew her warmth and spirit and music, I did the only thing I could–write a poem.

I invite you in.

Yesterday we howled for grief 

                        Beth Nickel (d. February 2, 2021)

because she was so young and left
us gaping on a dark day into the truth
of her not here, the rift

of her viola in its case. Even her name–
one syllable–music. Say
it again, again. Unflappable as math,

desk partner playing
that impossible gig. She wouldn’t flinch.
They’re saying sweet, yes, but say

steel too. For every inch
of score, deep-throat notes, core,
she bent with pencil clinching

up-bow, down-bow, slur, fourth
finger here, more accent there, to stent
a field of sound into a hearth—

heart, earth, ear, her constant
calm. Send a text,
her reply is instant;

she will come and crouch to fix
the strings of a jangly, small
violin as if she’s kin and just next door.

 

 

News

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been nominated for the 2022 High Plains Book Award. Barbara will appear at author panels and the awards ceremony in Billings, Montana on October 8, 2022.


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been nominated for the 2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Young Readers Choice Award).


The Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards (MYRCA) has nominated Dear Peter, Dear Ulla as a 2023 Northern Lights (Grades 7-9) finalist!


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla is a finalist for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Winners to be announced in Vancouver on September 24, 2022.


Essential Tremor reviewed in The Vancouver Sun. Read full review here.


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla is reviewed and “Highly Recommended” in CM (Canadian Review of Materials)! Read the full review here.


Barbara’s poem “Essential Tremor” is included in the anthology Best Canadian Poetry 2021, edited by Souvankham Thammavongsa, published by Biblioasis in October.


Barbara has been chosen as a featured poet on TransLink, BC Transit, and the Association of Book Publishers of BC’s Poetry in Transit 2021/22. 


Rob Taylor interviews Barbara about Essential Tremor, part of a nine-part series of interviews for National Poetry Month, in Read Local BC. Check out the interview here.


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Author Visits

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