Cortney Davis is finishing up her term as Bethel's first poet laureate, and on December 6th Cortney channeled her inner Amanda Gorman and opened Bethel's inauguration of elected officials with an original poem.
Consider the Capital Letter B
B is a bold letter, first letter of the word Bethel,
which means House of God, a good house, our town
settled in 1700, carved from the forests and fields
of Fairfield County, incorporated in 1855, and guided
by visionaries and dreamers, realists and activists―
like those here tonight, those we have chosen to lead us
with wisdom and strength. We honor them and ask them
to consider the capital letter B, its strong backbone,
how it reaches up while standing firm. We ask them
to consider the two curved lines that reach forward from its spine,
then turn to join midway in the suggestion of an embrace,
creating space for hope and possibility. We ask them
to be bold, to aim high at the same time remaining resolute
in what is right, moral and possible. We ask them
to open their hearts as well as their minds, to differ
when they must, but also to turn and meet again, leaving room
for change and compromise, choosing what is best
for the citizens they've been called to represent. Tonight,
we applaud their achievements and offer our gratitude,
our promise to stand ready to support them. We charge them
to be brave in their duties, to build and not tear down,
to hold fast to the knowledge that Bethel is blessed
with a sweet and beautiful democracy which they now hold
in their hands. We ask them to cherish this precious yet fragile gift,
to tend it well. And, always, we wish for them―for all of you―
peace, good health, and happiness through all the days to come.
- Cortney Davis
Cortney Davis is the author of "Daughter" (Grayson Books); "I Hear their Voices Singing: Poems New & Selected" (Antrim House); "Taking Care of Time," winner of the Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize from Michigan State University Press; "Leopold's Maneuvers" (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the Prairie Schooner Poetry Prize; and "Details of Flesh" (Calyx Books). She is also the author of three award winning memoirs and co-editor of three anthologies of writing by nurses. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry, Hudson Review, Superstition Review, Calyx, Descant, Sun, Bellevue Literary Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry East, Sentence, Underground Voices, Rattle, The Antigonish Review, and others, and have been widely anthologized.
She has served as a faculty member at workshops and seminars including at Sarah Lawrence College, NY; the Mountain Writers Center in Oregon; University of Colorado; Barnard College and Columbia University, NY; Portland State University and other venues. She has been a poet-in-the-schools, has taught writing workshops to nurses, physicians and Hospice volunteers, and has presented readings throughout the United States, including Washington DC, Ohio, Boston, New York, South Carolina, San Francisco, Seattle, Connecticut, and Denver.
Her honors include an NEA Poetry Fellowship and three CT Commission on the Arts Poetry Grants. She has received an Independent Publishers' Silver Medal, a Living Now Gold Medal in Non-Fiction, a CT Center for the Book Award in Non-Fiction, a CT Center for the Book Award in Poetry, an Independent Publisher's Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal in Non-Fiction, a Tillie Olsen Creative Writing Award, and six Books of the Year first place awards in the category of creative works from the American Journal of Nursing. In 2007, she was awarded a Nightingale Award for excellence in nursing.