Poetry

A Tribute to Claudia Emerson, Poet and Friend

Claudia Emerson (1957 – 2014) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her book Late Wife in 2006.  I think she would have been eventually chosen as the United States Poet Laureate if her brilliant career hadn’t been cut short by cancer.

She not only published eight collections of verse, but she was also a gifted teacher and musician. I knew her because we were in the same class at Chatham Hall, an all-girls’ school in Pittsylvania, County, southside Virginia. We were the class of 1975.

Chatham Hall was founded in 1894, originally named Chatham Episcopal Institute, and our most famous graduate was Georgia O’Keeffe. The school’s motto is Esto perpetua – “Let it be perpetual.”     Read More→


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Discovering Hazel Hall, “The Emily Dickinson of Oregon”

Hazel Hall (1886 –1924) was an American poet much beloved in her adopted state of Oregon. She was often referred to, for various reasons, as “The Emily Dickinson of Oregon.” Though she has been widely anthologized on both sides of the Atlantic, she’s no longer well known, yet deserves another look.

By 1910, the city of Portland, Oregon was a lively city of commerce and community. An active population of well over 207,000 established it as the largest city in the Pacific Northwest.

From the port side along the Ocean-accessible Columbia River to the West Bank of the roaring Willamette, people spent their days working in factories, window-shopping, strolling hand-in-hand, riding trolleys, and bustling about in all the ways that folks in large cities have always done. Read More→


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9 Poems by Rachel Field, Rediscovered American Author

Rachel Field (1894 – 1942) was a National Book Award winning novelist and a Newbery Medal winner. Her plays were produced all over the country, and she was a sought-after writer in Hollywood by the time her life ended abruptly in 1942. But when interviewers asked her which of her writings she liked best, she always said it was her poetry. I have to agree and perhaps you will, too, after sampling these poems by Rachel Field.

It was Rachel Field’s poetry that first caught my interest when I moved into her old summer house on an island in Maine in 1994, partly because so much of her poetry referenced both interior and exterior island scenes that were intimately familiar to me. She lived eight months of the year in New York City, and her urban poetry sparkles with the same genuine delight as her verses about the seaside. Rachel’s reverence for beauty ran deep. Read More→


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10 Classic Indian Women Poets, from Akka Mahadevi to Meena Alexander

India is a rich mosaic when it comes to languages, cultures and states. This diverse selection keeps in mind the feminist angle as it journeys from the 12th century through the 21st. These classic Indian women poets are presented here in order of birth, from Akka Mahadevi (1130-1160) through Meena Alexander (1951-2018).

Though all have passed on, their voices and influence echo through the ages. Pictured at right, Kamala Das as a young woman.

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Fearlessly Facing Aging: Poems by Grace Paley

A poet has the ability to bring to the light our most inexpressible fears and doubts. When the subject is aging – the subject most of us try to avoid – it is the poets we turn to find the comfort and the clarity we need. Grace Paley is one of the poets who can instruct the heart and mind on living with death, as evidenced by this selection of her poems on aging. 

For the last ten years of her life, Grace wrote poetry on the complexities of living with death as we grow older. “Nature takes its course,” is how we have been instructed to perceive our passing, but what about our other contradictory emotions and realities. Read More→


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