Salem writer Lois Rosen has recently published her second book of poetry – Nice and Loud.  She will read her poetry Thursday March 31st at 7pm at Frozation Nation, 155 Liberty St NE, Salem, free to the public.


Review: Nice and Loud

Vere McCarty

Nearly every page in Lois Rosen’s new book of poems involves the sense of taste.  The opening piece “Cake and Bread” expresses wonderment for a feeling of safety.

Night after night, Papa

returned home unbeaten,

white boxes gleaming

from the bakery,

bags brimming with challah,

frozen-dough rolls, seeded rye.

He repeated, “Never

save on your stomach.”

Reading this poem takes me back to my grandma bringing hot rolls out of the woodstove, and her lingering relief that her boys had come home from the war to enjoy them.

Treats like honey cake and Lipton’s with grape jelly grace these poems, and also seal meat and blubber, the orange tang of marigolds, Hungarian brandy (in a summer camp that is nicer and louder than Alan Sherman’s), Wonder Bread, tapioca, even a bouquet that

in a Dellwood Dairy milk bottle

graced our coffee table.

There is music too, from the Temptations’ shoo be doop to a Kuwaiti drummer singing

about a woman


as a garden.

The drumskin

becomes a moon

white and far away.

The keywords “nice and loud” appear in a riff called “Strudel” that walks out of a bakery and pokes around a Yonkers neighborhood giving ear to the shape-shifting of that little word, “nice”.

Nice music.  Nice eulogy.  Nice Funeral.

“The river is so loud…” cries a poem called “River We Are Warned Against Before We Ever Come Here”.  The title strikes me as a poem unto itself, and the memento an old lady hides in her yellow cloth star is another.  Images run under the bridge like logs in a flood.

Poems are scattered through the book that attend to people who are dying, while attending even more closely to those of us who inhabit the generation who will be next to go.  They observe our survival instincts, which may show as late-blooming sympathies and arguments that fade away.


when you’re ready…

And only after

could I say,

Don’t go.

Asked about the creative process, Lois offers a personal answer: “Until I begin writing, I don’t know what I’m going to say. I surprise myself over and over with what emerges. I start writing by hand and do lots of freewriting. Eventually a line leads to another. As I go, I revise for musicality, meaning, sensory detail, impact, and do research. When a draft feels firm enough, I type it, fiddle with it, and take copies to my poetry group and listen to their critiques.  Some poems I revise numerous times. Some take years.”

Lois Rosen has published two books of poetry: Pigeons (Traprock Books 2004) and Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach 2015).  Co-founder of Salem’s Peregrine Poets, she leads the Trillium Writers and the ICL Writing Group at Willamette University.

 Vere McCarty is an everyday writer – currently non-fiction and songwriting – living in Silverton.



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