Thursday, February 21, 2019

I'm excited to announce the lineup for the 2019 Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. Once again, I'll be directing it, alongside my associate director Kerrin McCadden. Our guest faculty will be Jacques Rancourt and Tina Cane, and Maudelle Driskell will lead the Writing Intensive. Beth Curran will be our Schafer Teaching Fellow. I'm so looking forward to the summer, and I hope you'll consider joining us in the barn.

But we've got a lot of weather to slog through before summer can find us again. This morning sleet is clacking against the windows, the street is glossed with icy snow, the furnace is gobbling oil, and we are running out of firewood.

Yesterday, after working on my own writing, I walked down to the University of New England to check out the Maine Women Writers Collection. I sat there for an hour, looking through the archives of a Maine poet named Florence Burrill Jacobs, a graduate of Skowhegan High School's class of 1916 (the same class as Senator Margaret Chase Smith), who spent the bulk of her life in East Madison--a town very close to Harmony. Jacobs was married to a high school shop teacher, spent much of her life caring for her parents and helping then run their general store, but she wrote constantly. Amazingly, some of her early work ended up in the New Yorker, and Harper's published a collection of her sonnets, Neighbors, in the late 1940s. Clearly the publishers were hoping to market her as an Edgar Lee Masters/Edward Arlington Robinson/Robert Frost type: a capturer of small-town tragedy and joy, the kind of poet who might engage non-poets, a New England portraitist. But her career never took off, and by the late 1960s she was selling verses and stories to venues such as Hallmark, Ladies' Home Journal, and McCall's. Her paperwork makes both her pride and her disappointment very clear.

I've only looked at a bit of her archive; there's so much more to sift through. But the collection is full of other equally fascinating and ambiguous materials: Admiral Peary's wife Josephine's papers, for instance . . . along with a glass case holding her gun, with this label attached:

Mother's 12 Gua. Shotgun
Do Not Use

No comments: