On poets & writers

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: News, On Publishing, On Reading, On Writing

Wasn’t it great to read about Britain’s first woman poet laureate in more than three hundred years? In fact, Carol Ann Duffy told the BBC that she took the post “purely because there hasn’t been a woman.” When she first started writing, a woman poet was still called a “poetess,” which Duffy called “ludicrous.” She talked about the validity of a woman’s unique perspective — writing about being a mother, for example — but believes that “the second-class citizen element of the description has long gone, and we won’t ever see that again.”

Speaking of poets, I’ve just ordered — and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of — Jill McDonough‘s book, Habeas Corpus, a collection of poetry comprising fifty sonnets, each about a historical execution. I first met Jill years ago in Boston, where she was teaching in Boston University’s Prison Education Program, and her passion for teaching incarcerated students has clearly found its way into her work. Gail Mazur calls her “a daring poet, formally sophisticated yet pushing the boundaries of form at every turn,” and Wendy Lesser writes, “The power of Habeas Corpus, as a work of literature and as a political act, is both cumulative and chastening.”

In other news, I’m still cheering for my friend Janna, whose book The Motion of the Ocean was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly‘s top 10 summer reads for 2009! The book’s pub date is only a month away, and since it is already at the top of must-read lists, I would highly recommend pre-ordering now.

And I so enjoyed doing this interview about Forgetting English with Diana Joseph. I recently finished Diana’s hilarious and heartwarming book I‘m Sorry You Feel That Way, and the only thing I didn’t love about it was that it had to come to an end. The good news is that Diana is also the author of a story collection, Happy or Otherwise, which I’m eager to check out next.

You might bookmark Diana’s teaching blog, where the Q&A appears, as it’s a fantastic resource of author interviews and links to articles about writers and writing, including Steve Almond’s “10 Rules For Writing Real Classy Sex Scenes.”

Happy reading.


  Comments: 2

  1. Just a quick update — Janna’s book, The Motion of the Ocean, also made it onto Library Journal’s list of best summer reading!


  2. Sean Truman Farley

    Sadly, I don’t know much about poetry to have kept up with who’s who in the poet laureate world. Poetry – like alcohol – is an acquired taste, I think. I tried it a decade ago in school and I enjoyed it, but it’s a tough medium. I have respect for poets, because they encapsulate in a few stanzas what most novelists can’t do in a whole book. Maybe in my 40s I’ll get to it! I read the interview, too, and it was quite interesting. Good work!