In preparing for our event in Long Beach, I suggested each of the poets read another poem from Solace in So Many Words in addition to their own. Donna Hilbert told me she wanted to read “Portuguese Sweet Bread,” for two reasons. First, she has a Portuguese daughter-in-law and has tasted the bread on many occasions, and secondly, it is a dynamite poem. The mention of Amy L. Dengler’s name made me remember that my last emails to her had bounced back. So on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, I sent an old-fashioned letter to Amy in Gloucester, Maine. Labor Day weekend came and went and so did our trip to Long Beach where Donna did a bang-up job reading Amy’s poem.
Friday morning, home in my own bed, I slept in until I got a call from Amy Dengler’s husband, Christopher P. Cook, who told me Amy died February 12. He said Amy’s contributor copies of Solace in So Many Words arrived shortly after her death, and really, had provided some solace, since it was one of her last publications. I stumbled over the words to say to him, and don’t remember what exactly I said besides, “Sorry.”
I found the death notice for Amy L. Dengler in the Gloucester Times and I print part of it below. She died February 12 at home of cancer. In her bio in Solace in So Many Words, Amy simply wrote: “Amy Dengler’s collection of poetry Beltween Leap and Landing was published in 1999 By Folly Cove Books. Her work has appeared in Atlantic Review, Christian Science Monitor, IDEALS Magazine, Anthology of New England Writers and many other journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of a Robert Penn Warren from New England Writers.”
The notice in the Gloucester Times provides more: ” She was born in Rochester, N.Y., on Jan. 10, 1949, daughter of Lucille (Leimberger) Dengler and the late Willard Dengler. At the age of seven, Amy decided she would do three things: work for a newspaper, be a stewardess and write a book; she did all three. She attended St. Augustine’s and West High Schools, worked for a newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., and was a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines and later for Delta Airlines.
In 1977, she moved to Gloucester and knew she had come home. She graduated summa cum laude from Salem State University where she was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She was an active volunteer in many local organizations: president and board member for the Sawyer Free Library, literacy tutor for the Adult Learning Center as well as volunteering for the Gloucester Stage Company and the Addison Gilbert Hospital.
She is best known as a successful poet and active member of the North Shore writing community. In 1999, she published her first book of poetry, Between Leap and Landing. Her latest book is a collection of her poems entitled At the Corner of Lost and Found, and in 2010 she contributed to the anthology A Feast of Cape Ann Poets: Poems with Favorite Recipes. Her work was published in Atlanta Review, The Christian Science Monitor, IDEALS, Papyrus, Red Rock Review and Thema. She was the recipient of many awards and prizes including a Robert Penn Warren Award. She was a member of Seacoast Writers and the Massachusetts State Poetry Society.”
Amy was a member of the North Shore Poets and her cohorts posted remembrances of her on that site; they are, like the one I link to here, very touching.
I did not personally know Amy. Like many contributors, she sent her works to me over the transom, probably in response to my ad in Poets & Writers. But I certainly felt a connection to Amy, an affinity. I liked her even if I never met her. She was my friend on the page. As I read about her, I figured we probably would have been friends off the page too had we met, and I regret there’s no chance of that happening now. I am saddened to hear of her passing; the Solace in So Many Words family has lost one of its own. I am grateful to have read some of her work and hope to read more, and maybe pass it on to you, if I can.