Excerpts: Poems & Essays
A growing compilation of poems and list of links to poems that appear in Letters to the World (Red Hen Press, 2008):
• Lesley Wheeler, American Flowers, page 382. Two other poems by Wheeler also appear at this link.
• Rosemary Starace, Kind Thoughts, page 350.
All my girls grew up to be weeds.
There’s the tall one strolling through grass,
she skirts the trees and flirts with sun.
And the one who never leaves the yard,
she studies the bees with her sharp blue eyes.
And the one named rose —they tried to offer her bouquets.
She roams along the seashore and the forest’s edge,
spending her petals on the chance to be enough.
• Rosemary Starace, Essay, page 398:
I came to Wom-po in 2004 through a chance encounter on the internet, and, unlike most participants, without invitation, from outside academia. Though a lifelong practitioner of the arts of writing and painting, I had made little effort to turn my private work into a public career. Entering Wom-po was like opening a door into a raucous party-house after a years-long amble on a quiet street. While just the thing I needed to leaven my poetry life, Wom-po could also distract and discourage. Every few weeks I would announce to my household, “I’ve got Wom-po poisoning!,” and then retreat: to clear myself and my writing of the clamoring opinions, the overt and covert striving, and what I sometimes thought were harmful, overanalytic approaches to the irreducible magic in poetry.
These undertows excited issues in me I had previously dealt with by remaining isolated in my work. So I kept returning to my in-box to examine these issues more directly and to partake of the devotion, passion, useful information, and vast knowledge also present on Wom-po; together these offer me a nourishing connection to complex and very real aspects of the poetry world.
Wom-po harbors many diversities even though certain demographics predominate. Essays here have addressed gender, race, disability, motherhood, internationality, and other identifications that might twine through or define the life of a poet. This one touches on the marginality and culture-shock one might experience as a nonacademic or noncareer poet on Wom-po.
I’ve realized the following, however, and it’s true for anyone who embodies or holds a nontypical point of view: I belong to Wom-po because I say I belong. That is Wom-po’s real opportunity, the best thing it offers. Wom-po may feel sometimes like an insider’s club, and it might have been limited to that if it were fastened to a physical location. But as an internet phenomenon, its terrain and its scope radically transform. I, or anyone, can participate in this vibrant, vital, credible world arena on the merit of words alone, without having to brandish particular credentials or think or write in a particular way. Knowledge, experience, insight can fly across the great divides—in both directions. All of us individuals, and poetry itself, may benefit from this exchange. This is a personally empowering and perhaps world-changing situation—and a most significant aspect of this anthology.