Early Poems by Alice Dunbar-Nelson (from Violets and Other Tales)

Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875 – 1935; also known as Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson) was a poet, short story writer, essayist, and journalist associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Presented here are poems from Violets and Other Tales (1895), her first collection, when she was still Alice Ruth Moore, her original name.

Published when she was just twenty, Violets and Other Tales includes short stories interspersed with the poems. Some of this early work hints at feminism and social justice, in a preview of the kind of writing that would become her hallmark.

Dunbar-Nelson would later become at least as well known for her short stories and searingly honest essays as for her poetry, if not more so. More of her short stories, which have come to be known as the Creole stories, have recently come to light.

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“Wilder, Eve” – Else Lasker–Schüler’s Vision of Woman in Eden

Along with Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan, Else Lasker-Schüler (1869 – 1945) was one of the most important German-Jewish poets of the twentieth century. And along with August Stramm and Georg Trakl, she was one of the most important early German expressionist poets.

This look at one of her best-known works is adapted from the forthcoming Wilder, Eve, Some Early Poems of Else Lasker-Schüler, translated by Francis Booth. Reprinted by permission.

Born Elizabeth Schüler into a middle-class banking family in what is now Wuppertal, Germany in 1869, she began writing poetry very early, imagining herself as a child living in the Orient, a fantasy that persisted throughout her life. Read More→

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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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