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Writing has saved me over my long life—the discipline, the discoveries—have made an immeasurable impact on me. Now, helping other writers find their footing, their voices, deepens every aspect of my own experience.  


My education was blessedly unconventional. I attended Harvard as an undergraduate adult and savored every minute. Well, not every minute. Spanish was impossibly hard for me. But, oh, how I wanted to be fluent in that beautiful language. 


My professors included the Director of the Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Another was the director of the Sackler Museum, while with another I studied medieval manuscripts through to the incunabulum.  Our classroom was often the Houghton Rare Book Library, where we wore white gloves to examine selections from the extraordinary collection. Once the professor rolled out a very small book caddy on wheels and said we were about to examine a million dollars-worth of materials. With my focus on the history of art, I was in heaven.  


Belw is a poem of mine, published by Cimarron Review, about an experience during one class at the Houghton.

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I think always of you waiting.

—W.S. Merwin

While visiting the Houghton Rare Book library, 

my professor, steeped in the Incunabulum, 

handed me a small volume, titled 

Des destinees de l’ame , saying casually 

that it had been bound with human skin.  

A woman’s back, she whispered, leaning in 

to meet my eyes. And from that moment, 

I’ve tried to fashion a story for her.

The author was Arsène Houssaye, dandy      

of the Second Empire, a fantaisiste,             

like many of the romantics—who even 

Baudelaire courted, but secretly ridiculed.     

Houssaye presented his work

to his friend Dr Ludovic Bouland, who           

had saved the woman’s skin for just 

the right occasion, and when the volume 

came into his possession, he had it rebound, 

expressing his belief that such meditations 

on the soul after death merited a human skin.

A noted bibliophile, the good doctor

commanded that the binding be

unadorned—save for a bit of gold trim— 

to preserve its elegance, so what lay 

in my hands was otherwise unremarkable, 

a plain text of greenish-gold hue,

patterned with pores through which

her skin once breathed.

She had been a mental patient, whose 

body upon death from apoplexy lay 

unclaimed. For years I have yearned 

for some quiet place for her to emerge—

in my writing, my dreams.

Then one soft afternoon as I crossed 

the back meadow, I came upon her 

humming among butterflyweed 

and cranesbill, the hem of her 

walking dress darkened with mud.  

Her hair was swept back into a single 

loose braid, and she wore a necklace 

of nutmeg and violets.


She did not seem to notice me,

and I stood for a long while observing 

her slow, desultory wanderings, pausing 

here and there, then scanning 

the western horizon, where the sun 

was already sliding behind rushes 

and wild rye—her sweet face

turning more pensive as if 

she had not yet found what she sought, 

and it would soon be too late.

Finally, she faded, along with all 

familiar things, into the growing dark. 

I never saw her again.

I wish I could say I’d felt her—and she

me—that day in the library, through 

the mandatory white cotton gloves 

we’d been instructed to wear—as if 

my turning the book over and over 

in amazement might rouse her 

from her terrible slumber, rescue her 

from the shelf upon which she had stood 

for so long—from a life, which, even 

in death, did not belong to her.

By this time, I had begun to both write and to paint seriously. I was participating in a wonderful poetry workshop in Brookline, MA, and also studying painting part time at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. When it was time to think about graduate school, I had a difficult time deciding which direction to take. But when the graduate writing program at Warren Wilson College accepted me, I jumped. I never have regretted that decision.


I have been fortunate to have won many awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the MacDowell Colony. As well, I have won the Grolier and Pablo Neruda Prizes.


Among the many journals in which my poems have appeared are TriQuarterly, Spoon River Review, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Nimrod, Sojourner, and Cimarron Review. 


I have published four books, of which three are collections of poetry—Blood Garden: An Elegy for Raymond, Turning Point; Across the Dark, Main Street Rag Press; and My Own Hundred Doors, Bright Hill Press. A verse-novel entitled Esther was published by CavanKerry Press.


I recently retired from the university setting, having taught in the graduate and undergraduate writing programs at Emerson College in Boston, Franklin Pierce University, and most recently Keene State College, among other institutions. 


I now devote my time to working with writers to hone their craft

and their voice. 

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