When I was six, I wrote a poem about a young medieval knight, and my teacher said I was a born poet, but that was the only poem I wrote for sixty years.
I grew up in Hamden, Connecticut. Years later I learned that Donald Hall had lived on the next street. I never met him then, though we did buy our milk from his father. My father was a professor of Electrical Engineering at Yale; my mother had been a professional dancer from age six to eighteen, when they were married and she gave up her career. She danced when she could, but had lost the passion that made her dance. My father was the head of our house, and she quickly learned that he was and would always be tyrannical. In high school my English teacher introduced me to T.S. Eliot – I loved his work, his poems awoke me to what poetry could be, but I didn’t dare to believe I could write poems like his. I could read poems and enjoy them, but that was all.
In my college days as a English major I met all the English greats, from Chaucer on, buried myself in the language and music of their works, loved the sounds and colors of poetic language, but never wrote a poem.
In graduate school I studied Homer , Vergil, Horace and wrote a dissertation about the great Greek writer of odes, Pindar, but again was never moved to write a poem of my own, though I had a much better sense of how poems were created. I taught Latin and Greek, co -authored a book for teachers of Ovid, loved digging deep into how ancient poetry worked, came to understand and appreciate the ancient poets ,but did not feel a calling that I knew those writers had.
The door to writing my own poems was waiting for me although I did not know it. When we moved to Vermont, I became an adjunct at Dartmouth College, teaching Latin for the Classics Department, and issues pertinent to ancient and modern women in Dartmouth’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department. When Donald Sheehan, an adjunct in the English department, and also Director of The Frost Place in Franconia, asked me to teach a course with him on ancient and modern poetry, I joined him for the first of several courses for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. Out of our first seminar came a call from some of the students for a poetry workshop, and as Don’s plate was already too full, I agreed to sponsor it. This workshop met monthly, sharing poems ahead of our meeting, and giving each poem a full critique. We published two books of our poems, and stayed together as a group for many years. To my surprise, I began write poetry then and could not stop. The door so long closed for me had opened. I had found my passion, and albeit the call came late it came fully, and owns me now in the years I have left, each day grateful for the gift of having the time to live fully the joy of find the words and music that are poems.