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Barbara Sabol

Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Volume 4


Imagine a Town

by Barbara Sabol

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Winner of the 2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Poetry Manuscript Contest

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Click here to see Barbara read two poems from the collection!

BARBARA SABOL is the author of the poetry collection, Solitary Spin (Main Street Rag Publishing), and two chapbooks, The Distance Between Blues (Finishing Line Press) and Original Ruse (Accents Publishing). Her work has appeared widely in journals, including The Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Literary Accents, Akitsu, Presence, and in a number of anthologies. Barbara’s awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Mary Jean Irion Poetry Prize. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Barbara received an MFA from Spalding University. She contributes poetry book reviews for the Poetry Matters blog. Barbara is a speech therapist who lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.


The poems in Imagine A Town reveal how a confederacy of places—a hometown, adopted city, a neighborhood—conspires to shape identity, especially when one’s sense of self butts up against the values and expectations embraced by that place. These narratives convey how a girl’s long view is foreshortened by smokestacks, slim resources, and the rough Alleghenies circling her blue-collar existence. Self-discovery also manifests through a reckoning of events outside the kitchen window, and in the wider world. Conversely, distance from the speaker’s origins gently tightens the grasp of that place as she reconciles inevitable losses and regrets exacted by her departure. Memories of coming-of-age in a time of milkmen and trolley cars prompt a visitation to a hometown that’s taken up residence in the poet’s imagination as she journeys through place and time. Also infusing these poems is the tension of a constructed suburban world imposed on the natural world, such that the sight of a buck in a neighbor’s yard startles a renewed connection with nature, and an awareness of deeper losses. The concept of home, a longing to belong, and the risks and rewards of carving an outsider existence lie at the beating heart of this collection.


“Imagine a Town resonates with a strong sense of how hard work (and hard play) shapes the lives of those growing up in a blue-collar community. These poems sing with the earned authority of witness—sharp, clear details etched on the page. Memory casts its spell here not in simple nostalgia, but through a fierce examination and an urge toward preservation as a way of honoring this heritage. She mourns the losses while finding those small moments that sustain us through those losses. Relying on a strong sense of craft and form, Sabol wastes not a word here in these tight, emotionally packed poems.”
 ―Jim Daniels, author of The Perp Walk

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