is a British citizen but permanent resident of New Jersey, where she is raising two daughters. Her poems have appeared in journals including Rattle
, The Harvard Review
, The Formalist
, The Evansville Review
, and Measure
, among others in print and online.
She has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2005 Howard Nemerov sonnet award. She is editor of the formal poetry e-zine The Barefoot Muse
and is currently enrolled in the Bennington College MFA Program. Her first chapbook Swimming
was published in March 2006 by Maverick Duck Press.
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Suburban Housewives In Their Forties
The street is emptying of our kids—
out running track, playing baseball.
Drawn to lawn chairs, we women
take in the rustlings of finches,
the indefatigable pinks of the orchids.
Bloom by bloom, we are emptying
our minds; all of us have given up
visions of freelance photography,
fashion reportage, going back to school—
it seems too late for these colors to help us.
Meanwhile the sky is emptying
itself of the censorious sun,
which dips beneath the roofs on our block
until the last segment glows brick red,
blinks out like the eye of a toad.
We meet at the house with the screen
porch, bringing bottles of Pinot
and Chardonnay. Filling glasses
with pale yellow liquid, we can see
right through ourselves as we empty them.
[Originally published in Mad Poets Review]
n the spring of 2005 I attended the Advanced Poetry Workshop at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, taught by BJ Ward and Stephen Dunn. Being almost twenty years older than most of the other students, I occasionally felt out of place, but it was worth it to alleviate the feeling that my brain had turned into a bowl of soggy Cheerios after spending the previous eight years caring for my two daughters.
That semester I struggled for a long time with a poem called “Suburban Housewives in Their Forties.” Stephen Dunn patiently read through every revision and provided advice via email. I admired him so much that I read all his books including his book of essays Walking Light, and it was there that I discovered a revelation: he did not go straight to Graduate School after his BA. He applied to do an MFA as a mature student and was admitted solely on the strength of his poetry manuscript. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps this was a choice that was open to me, even though my undergraduate degree was not only in Engineering, but also from a foreign university.
Right at the end of the semester I found the perfect end to the poem: the housewives, who think it is too late to go back to school, drink wine on a screen porch, filled with self-hatred. That summer I applied, and was accepted into, the Bennington College low residency MFA program. MFA’s certainly aren’t for everybody, but for this transplanted engineer turned housewife, following an MFA program proved ideal for my personal and poetic development. I still include “Suburban Housewives” frequently in readings. I always introduce it like this: “I wrote this poem, and then I went back to school.”