{An Umbrella Invitational}

Joyce Nower

In addition to her three books, Joyce Nower’s poems and prose have recently appeared, or will appear, in Miller’s Pond, The Eden River Press, Avatar ReviewOff Our Backs, and The National Poetry Review.

For the August 2007 Commemoration of Woman Suffrage, she read, in addition to her own poetry, the satiric poems of Suffragist poet Alice Duer Miller. Nower’s October “Intersections” column in The Alsop Review took a look at this poet.

Joyce is a Third Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo; the November-December issue of Off Our Backs featured her article, “Martial Arts and Feminist Awareness.”

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I Move Towards Stillness

I move towards stillness
as if in a current
sensing the moving waters,
the bobbing eyes,
and the soundless blue claw

Movement rings
my stillness, rings
it roughly, like water
ringing rock.
It is the rock I love.
With hermit hardness.

But it is of the current too—
shaped by it,
So I am—
there’s no escaping—
shaped by it,

[Originally published in Year of the Fires, (CWSS, 1983)]

Artist’s Statement

I went to college when the “writing workshop” was only a glint in the eye of poets who were living hand to mouth. In fact “skills courses” in the arts didn’t exist on college campuses. (I remember the controversy aroused by the first music composition course offered at Harvard.) No, the future writer—and I didn’t yet see myself as one—and the English major—I was one of those—studied English and American literature, and translations.

Having developed a deep appreciation for the iambic foot, rhyme royal, the rhymed couplet, end rhyme, the sonnet, the sixteener, the Spenserian stanza, the ballad, and the ballade, and so forth, I found it hard, when I started writing poetry in the 1960s and ‘70s to face the fact that no one gave a twig for formalisms. In fact, “academic” was the slur applied to all such outmoded literary barbarisms. The ambivalence I felt as I tried to combine free verse elements and formal qualities is perhaps the leitmotif of my last thirty years. “I Move Towards Stillness,” set to music by a friend of mine, helped me steer a path between formal and free verse.