Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios’poetry has appeared in many publications and anthologies such as Clementine,Amaerican Poetry Journal, Poetry Leaves, Kentucky Review, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Poeming Pigeon, Form Quarterly, The Edison Literary Review, Poeming Pidgeon, and Unsplendid. Nominated for three pushcart prizes and several Best of Net, her prize winning chapbook, Special Delivery is published by Yellow Chair Press, Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Word Tech Communications and her third, A Concerto for an Empty Frame by Kelsey Publishing in October 2023.
She co-wrote the book Party Line under the name Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. She has been Editor for the Writers of Mendocino County Anthology for several years. Elizabeth is a professor emerita from American University in Washington D.C., having chaired the vocal and music departments. Vrenios’ solo recitals throughout the United States, South America, Scandinavia, Japan, and Europe have been acclaimed. As the artistic director of the Redwoods Opera Workshop in Mendocino, California, and the Crittenden Opera Workshop in Washington D.C. and Boston, she has influenced and trained students across the country. She is a member of the international Who’s Who of Musicians, and is the past National President of the National Opera Association.
Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios’poetry has appeared in Clementine,Amaerican Poetry Journal, Poetry Leaves, Kentucky Review, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Poeming Pigeon, Form Quarterly, The Edison Literary Review, Poeming Pidgeon, and Unsplendid. Nominated for three pushcart prizes, her prize winning chapbook, Special Delivery is published by Yellow Chair Press, Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Word Tech Communications and her third, A Concerto for an Empty Frame by Kelsey Publishing due out in October 2023.
She co-wrote the book Party Line under the name Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. Elizabeth is a professor emerita from American University in Washington D.C., having chaired the vocal and music departments. Vrenios’ solo recitals throughout the United States, South America, Scandinavia, Japan, and Europe have been acclaimed. As the artistic director of the Redwoods Opera Workshop in Mendocino, California, and the Crittenden Opera Workshop in Washington D.C. and Boston, she has influenced and trained students across the country. She is a member of the international Who’s Who of Musicians, and is the past National President of the National Opera Association.
I have always been interested in the printed word, even from my earliest roots. My first poem, written at the age of six revealed my passion for music and word, for it was written as a song on the piano to a rhythmic I,IV,V,I exercise:
Singing songs by Candlelight
On the Darkest, darkest night.
It's so fun for me you see
because its by our Christmas Tree.
Music and poetry have always been two sides of the same coin for me. As an international singer performing recitals, I always preferred English andAmerican music as it revealed that part of me that felt deeply enmeshed in the written word of my native language. I always wrote poetry, but because of my chosen vocation as singer and professor of music, poetry was on the back burner. Once I retired, my interest in poetry deepened and I began to pursue this new and exciting journey. In 2016 I published a chapbook of poetry written about my son, Nicholas Andreas Vrenios who was on the Pan Am 103 Flight that exploded over Lockerbie. My journey into the dark and joyous light of the poetic word has continued ever since. I invite my friends and those who simply love poetry and passion of the word to share in my journey.
I crack open my mind to allow my music into my words, to allow me to compose in sounds, form, a place of music of sound, of allowing consonants and vowels to speak on their own. I am awed by life's incongruities. Just as I am awed by strange harmony, 12 tone music, experimental music and sound.
Part of what I continually search for is how to transfer what I know about music into words: How can I write in a sonata allegro form? How can I take a motive apart and give it a voice in a development as Beethoven did. How can I make a phrase (sentence) and turn it on its head like Mozart? I have a longing that knocks against my psyche, that scrapes my skin, that boils my dreams and makes me wake as if drowning . Music has been my muse: language as sound and percussion like waves crashing against the cliffs, or seeing air thick with swirls of Puccini, Mozart, Barber or Massenet. However, I feel as if I am only the wind, unable to create the music of the spheres, only to rustle the leaves.
I feel as if I dwell in the thickness of the universe, my muse. My mind swims in a thick soup much like the pulls of magnets or the vortexes at Sedona. I feel the mind swirl with thickness, knowing it is the Universe or the muse. Dwelling in the midst of that swirl is a light, a stillness that rules me, that leads me where I should go. I sit quietly and listen to see what I need to say, knowing that at some point the universe will answer. It is like waiting for an echo or hoping a rock will skip eight times across the pond.
It isn't thoughts that propel me, but feelings. I do get distracted by thoughts, but it is the emotion that sets my words on fire. As a poet I long to come up with the essences I find in music. Being a musician trying to be a poet is very much like trying to learn a new language, as if I were the wind trying to talk to the deer in the forest - the language is stiller, more intimate and felt in the ears and skin rather than the tongue and breath. It is as if the wind carries my words much like the kites in the air dance on the wind.
Romance Ray Bethell You Tube
My third book (full length) A Concerto for an Empty Frame was released in October 2023 by Kelsey Books. The book is written in the shape of a concerto in three movements, one for each area of my life. Each poem is preceded by an Italian musical term, and the concerto is held together by several different motifs. Order through Amazon, Kelsey Books (Kelsayblooks.com) Barnes and Noble or directly from the poet: email@example.com.
Blurbs for A Concerto for an Empty Frame
This is a rare creation of song and scar, of vulnerability and both emotional and structural complexity. In Elizabeth Vrenios’ new collection Concerto in the Shape of an Empty Frame, the outer and inner, conceptual and human worlds mingle in accessible yet complex ways. Brimming with meditations on family, biology, mathematics, landscape, and personal identity, all woven through the language of classical music, these vibrant poems remain grounded in a universal familiarity that opens us up to something greater. If one of the aims of poetry is to condense our vast, contradictory, and beautifully human world into the briefest of songs, Concerto in the Shape of an Empty Frame stands as a testament to its possibility.
— John Sibley Williams
I had the privilege of being present during the birth of Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios’ brilliant new book of poems, Concerto for an Empty Frame. And what a magical birth! Once Elizabeth alighted on the idea to meld these gorgeous poems into a concerto (using her considerable musical prowess), she was a woman on fire—a maestro at work. You can feel her passion singing through each movement of what is, after all, a heroine’s journey. A modern quest we embark on in, what else, a white Valiant after the opera. With poems Con fuoco, Furioso, and Lacrimoso, Ms. Vrenios deftly guides us through the initiation stage of this epic, to our heroine’s darkest nights of the soul—the shock and grief of a son lost to the tragic bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. And ultimately, to our heroine’s nostos, homecoming. I emerged, blinking at the return of light, and forever changed. Avanti! Avanti!
—Kim Noriega, author of Name Me
Reading Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios’s new poetry collection is like listening to a powerful concerto by Mozart or Beethoven. Concerto for an Empty Frame is presented in the form of a musical score, complete with Italian notation. Even her definitions are poems, such as these lines from her definition of “concerto:”
1. “Mus: A piece for one or more soloists and orchestra with three contrasting movements.
2. One thousand yellow finches lift off a late summer river all at once.”
The three movement of her concerto lead us through the breakup of her marriage, the loss of her son in a terrorist bombing, and finally a stepping away from grief, as “Blue startles the air open like an egg.” Concerto for an Empty Frame is a brilliant work by a gifted musician.
Maureen Eppstein. Author of Horizon Line
Praise for Empty the Ocean with a Thimble
In Empty the Ocean with a Thimble, Elizabeth Vrenios takes us on a journey through her Finnish-American childhood, a time of delight as well as of darkness. The poems that chronicle her youthful experiences—learning to ride a bike, going to the movies, practicing the piano—turn ominous, overshadowed by a mother who can’t express love or understand her “outlander” daughter’s needs. “I wear you like a cheerless jacket,” Vrenios says. But it is a jacket she manages, through her writing, to cast off, emerging as a poet of great spirit, heart, and determination—what the Finns call sisu.
—Sue Ellen Thompson, Poet and Winner of the Maryland Author Award
Praise for Special Delivery
The book is, of course, given the primary subject, a collection of very emotionally stirring set of poems. However, the impact of poems comes not solely from your son's death and your loss, but from the artistry you bring to the craft. Among the many lines I loved were "as I watch it inch/across the rumpled bed/slicing shadowed patterns/like a keen-edged stare./ I am still reluctant/to rouse." And "I hold the opaque skin to the light,/ striated, papery, colorless,/ an ephemeral wing of a ghost." These, for me, are examples of how your art helps convey so vividly and honestly the horrific event and its impact, but also provides a considerable degree of universality that a reader can feel and apply in myriad ways to her or his losses.
_ Gerald Cole
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