by Lyn Lifshin
Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: World Parade Books (February 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984619852
ISBN-13: 978-0984619856
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 13 ounces

Available on amazon.com

all the poets cover

"Lifshin's latest book gets farther into the center of her psyche than anything else she has ever written. It essentially shows how she lived in the midst of poets living and dead, was part of the whole mystique that surrounded all of poetic aesthetics and history. William Carlos William, Frost, Bukowski, Anne Sexton...and all kinds of little personal contacts like having breakfast with Robert Bly in Normal, Illinois (of all places), a box of letters from Robert Frost to her father. She not only brings the poets themselves alive like I've never seen them brought alive before, but shows the massive, artistic context out of which her own masterpieces emerged. A classic and, in a way, for poets beginning to play the poetry game, a series of almost buddhistic meditations on roads to take into what poetic mountains and plains, what poetic rivers to glide down listening to  the voices surrounding you." — Hugh Fox

"Lyn Lifshin writes a moving and evocative collection of poetry that is a tribute to the poets who touched her and inspired her. Whether it is Allen Ginsberg giving her a rose, or meeting Dylan Thomas at the White Horse Tavern, or a dreamscape of Lifshin and Emily Dickinson picking berries, Lifshin imagery and imagination is on full display... a must read!"  — Doug Holder/Ibbetson Street Press            

"Lyn Lifshin’s All The Poets is mind candy.  More than a third of the poetry affords us an entre-nous perspective of contemporary and classic poets…some dreamt of, alluded to, half known and some known intimately (but not well). Velvetted treatments about Bly to Williams to Beat Poets in off-beat places.  Ms. Lifshin employs the witty, the anecdotal, the cathartic taut and lusty writing she is so deservedly well known for. 

" Then, tucked amid the themed leaves, we meet The Ice Maiden, residing in a group of well-constructed pieces dripping with the severe, decadent and provocative qualities that have populated  many of Ms. Lifshin’s other collections.
"All the Poets reminds the reader of just how special and important a writer Lyn Lifshin is!" — Ted Roberts

"For the delicious scoop and little known facts about Dylan Thomas, Garcia Lorca, James Dickey, Robert Frost, Alan Ginsberg and may more, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, you must read Lifshin's entanglement with a wild variety of the famous and infamous. I loved the book. A must read." — G.M. Howells

"I think All the Poets Who Have Touched Me/Desire is a tremendous book along the lines of John Berryman’s Dream Songs. (I’ve read less than half your new book, but already I can see that.) It’s the Lifshin persona with equal attention to the speaker and the subjects presented. There’s a great intellect at work in the book, showing the author has digested the essence of the poets, both recent and remote, presented as flesh and blood characters, with their eccentricities and normality. It humanizes them using sound biographical knowledge but fictionalizes them, adding luster and depth. The revelations of both speaker and associated writers are powerfully original and also have the sense of being basically historically and literarily sound. It’s an intriguing presentation that keeps the reader eager to see what’s on the next page. It’s scandalous and morally elevating in turn. It keeps coming back with additional observations real and imaginative that are impressively supportive. The book with its many pages and accumulation of factual and imagined information has the satisfying weight of a masterpiece, and though phrased in a perfectly conversational tone, it occasionally has the music of a hymn, sometimes a dark melody, at other times radiant. The diction and milieu is in accord with the varied historical eras treated. The book is not just a hearty meal. It is a feast of words with fascinating descriptions and engrossing ideas. The reader will leave this banquet of literary delights fulfilled, but also salivating for more."    — William Page

Lyn Lifshin’s lively and compelling new collection offers a romp through the generations of writers, most of them fellow poets, from Byron to Dickinson to the late Jane Kenyon, as she recounts scandalous affairs, intimate friendships, thoughts of what might have been.  Lifshin’s vivid imagery and wicked sense of humor (“I have ghost writers. . . ” the poet confesses as she recounts every poet’s secret writing fantasy) make All the Poets Who Have Touched Me a collection no reader of poetry should miss.
— Rebecca Baggett, author of God Puts on the Body of a Deer and Thalassa

"In All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Lyn Lifshin, mistress of the skinny poem, dishes up the skinny on a plethora of poets from Emily Dickinson, to Walt Whitman, to Dylan Thomas, to a coterie of characters whose identities are left a tantalizing mystery.  While the concept of fantasizing about cavorting with one’s favorite poet is hardly novel (see “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg), Lyn Lifshin, with her hypnotic, playful, and vibrant voice, ramps it up a few notches, culminating in an irresistible collection that you can truly lose yourself in.  Making like the proverbial fly on the wall (albeit, a very proactive one), Lifshin infuses herself into a scintillating set of scenarios — some zany, some heartbreaking, some sweet — and invites us to join her in a veritable orgy of literary mayhem. And like the rich chocolate that Lifshin swears killed off Edgar Allan Poe, these poems feel like sinful indulgence." Read whole review by Cindy Hochman

"Lyn Lifshin's latest collection All the Poets Who Have Touched Me is an intimate whirlwind tour through literary history in the company of the perfect confidential guide.  Lifshin, prolific "queen of the small presses" for the last several decades, must have been at least casually acquainted with some of the poets she writes about here, but to what extent only she could tell us, and this isn't a tell-all.  One poem is entitled "The Poets I Know the Best Are the Ones I Could Never Write About" and begins, "It would be betrayal..." " Read the whole review by Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom

"Lyn Lifshin's latest book, ALL THE POETS WHO HAVE TOUCHED ME, the past collides with the present. Names such as Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, Edna Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath and Robert Frost ignite the fire of Lyn's creativity. "Sylvia/ and I drank hot chocolate with some/ Sambuca, talked about how the worst time/ of the day was 5 am......the depression time.....". With Dylan, Lyn says, he is..."more/ like a pet, a little kitten I let cuddle/ against me...." How can I forget Frost's "cotton/ medium green, baggy....." pants? Many other poets come to life in Lyn's latest book, even the painter Georgia O'keefe whose brush stroke is the word, and her painting, the poem." — by Margie on Amazon (5 stars)

"Few poets can permeate the heart of things as Lyn Lifshin does. In All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, (World Parade Books, 2010), she enters the souls of poets. Through actual experience and outright audacious imagining, Lifshin weaves herself into these other lives, not as an observer, but as participant, whether lover, friend, confidant or resident spirit." — Alice Pero, Poet and moderator of Moonday Poetry. Read the whole review.


it wasn't the first time we met. I'd been
at his place in the East Village with another
writer who refused to believe it
wasn't safe after dark, insisted we
stroll thru garbage strewn streets at
midnight, not call a cab. Another
time I wish I'd taken a camera or
kept notes, a diary on the places I
read, kept a photo in my head. Those
years it was as if I lived from suitcase to
suitcase, came home only to pack
again. I wrote Glad Day after that trip
or another one like it. I was happy
to be reading with Ginsberg tho I
hardly see myself in the line of the Beats,
never understand why others do. It
was probably a couple of years later,
reading outside in the park. For some
reason I remember standing around for
hours, driftwood colored bleachers.
None of this might be true. I remember
little about the reading: the size of the
audience. It must have been hot. I
know someone brought cold drinks
finally and we all ran toward him. More
than anything I remember Allen Ginsberg
gave me a rose, a beautiful red one,
or was it white? No, it must have been
red because when I carried it thru the air
port gingerly as if I was balancing a
rose of diamonds and glass, everyone
turned and said what a beautiful
and so sweet. Of course it wasn’t the
rose but the Tea Rose perfume I was
wearing. Since the rose came from
Allen Ginsberg I wanted to preserve
it, coated it with dripped candle wax
but it didn’t work so I put it in
plastic, pressed it into the heaviest book
in the house, a folio edition of Shakespeare,                          
all petals pressed into William’s words


last night, for the first time, Dylan Thomas
walked right out of a poem into
a dream. He was cherubic, a babyface,
asexual so it didn't seem like a pass
when he started nuzzling me like
a cat pressing her nose into my skin,
wanting to be petted and combed. Child-
like, Dylan might have been dressed
in a young boy's shorts, dark curls, darker
than in his photographs, but I had no doubt
it was him. He whispered Welsh into
my neck and I felt goose bumps as if
his breath was his poems making me
tingle. Everything started melting.
I'd loved him for so long on the sheet
of the page but now, to have him
all over me, his verbs and fur and
something I know I didn't imagine. He
wasn't tall, never far from some part of my
body, soft little leeches, flesh magnets so
cuddly anything you could imagine
happening easily could and did


it was just one day but when you’re
younger time goes slower everyone
says and he would never grow old
enough to not be. It wasn’t just
Halloween and not even just his
birthday but a favorite uncle’s too
and a difficult boyfriend. (Since
they are not writers, they don’t fit
truly in this but then, I have written
a lot about both of them.) The day
with Keats was magical.  It was
like something winged caught
in amber. The day could have been
the figures circling his urn: it has
stayed that beautiful, that real tho
so long ago. I thought maybe he
would want to stroll thru the National
Gallery or the Corcoran. I told him
I had found some exhibits, hypnotic,
how my Marilyn Monroe poems
came mostly from wandering past
glassed in art or standing in front of
paintings, wondering how she
would have felt. But he seemed pale
and tired, would prefer to walk
through some park, listen to birds and
trees. He was thin, he was coughing.
I knew he had nursed his brother
Tom thru TB, that his mother
died of it. I decided we should take
the metro to my pond, the one
where I had seen one of the real
mother-less geese, the film FLY
AWAY HOME was based on, a
goose Airlie Environmental Center
had trained to fly behind a light
plane in the shape of a goose mother.
I thought, having lost his own
father and mother early, he’d feel
a connection to the motherless birds.
He didn’t understand what a movie
was or light weight planes at first
but then the idea intrigued him.  He
began to see film as even more
real figures caught in time. When
I showed him pictures of the
plane in the shape of a goose, he
beamed. We walked in the tall
grass behind my house. Glint of
gold from the pond, warm enough
for my tangerine tree to keep
blooming, the kind of fall day
when  you know cold is coming, cold
and the death of everything green.
That only outlined the afternoon’s
beauty, one of the last gold days.
We listened for the birds, the leaves.
There were no nightingales but
even jays and sparrows Keats said
were “heard in ancient days by
emperor and clowns,” and he just
sat quietly and listened. When he
thought of death, he said, he looked
to the sky, the shadows. He was
surprised I knew so much of St Agnes
Eve, that I loved the icy lines, the
image of the cold owl and the
“Hare limping, trembling through
the frozen grass,” and “the bead man’s
fingers with his frosted breath.”
It was a mellow day. It was Keat’s
autumn, one of his last gold days.
We could smell apples in the wind,
“the gathering swallows twittering
in the skies,” and hedge crickets
singing as they wouldn’t for long


and told me he wanted to take me
down the Mississippi, hollering
poems and blowing weed. He
sounded crazy and I wrote that
I’d never been beaten, that I was
a bitch. He sent me pain and lust
for 20 days, his aloneness, how he
wanted to fall into blue water.
He said my letters fell apart
pressed to his skin. In March my
arms starting melting and I drank the
Chateau Ausone he sent. By April
my face was burning. He sent me
his so that in Concord I could
just think about him while the river
was swelling. But I didn’t think
he’d come, stealing hamburg,
staggering with a torn suitcase and
broken shoes from California. I
Didn’t know where to keep him and
I got drunk on cognac before he
fell thru the door. He taught me what
men did in prison. His eyes weren’t
mean and blue when he said how
we’d live in a house of shells in the
ferns in Big Sur, high on poems,
said we’d eat the colors off Point
Lobos, dark wine and succulents in
bed. I could hear the seals afternoons
we lay in a blur of nutmeg, watching the
curtains. His head on my belly, telling
me about the women who stopped
mattering. That’s when it started
getting scary. One waited five years
after getting a short letter. I wouldn’t
even take the bus across town tho
I dreamed I go with him to Yugoslavia
and Mexico. He kept getting busted
and moved under the stairs with
dead moths, drinking beer and not
coughing. Then he moved out into the
trees, came leaf by leaf in the morning.
Fog was what we needed, a blur to
lie down and lie in. I never liked his
poems as much as I pretended, not even
the ones he stole. But I loved the stories,
how he made love in coffins, stood on the
roof of his house screaming at stars. But
he kept breaking into places. Once I
held him four hours while he cried.
Next morning he poured chocolate on
my lips and ate it and talked about going
to Montana. We could live in a wooden
hut in Canada with my cats only nothing
was getting better. He vomited blood
and black things. If he came in late I
thought it was over. He’d just laugh. We’d
take a bottle out into the huge weeds and
collapse laughing. Other things fell too.
Leaves, he’d slam into chairs with cigarettes,
burn holes in everything. I set the clock
ahead, wondered how long this could go
on, the snow coming and I watered the mail
when he went to get better and didn’t. By
October I couldn’t move. Wherever I went
there were tentacles, his eyes in the window.
I tripped on his arms and then cut out for
Colorado. He couldn’t just stay in the
leaves. Children said he smelled like fire.
Lady bugs lie on their backs now the wind
is rising. I’m not sorry that he came. Or
that nothing could keep him



so many mornings began with
the blues as if our separate
nightmares leaked out on the
sheets and made a cove of blue.
Blue velvet quilt, bruise
blue cotton, a paler blue than
veins in my wrists spilling across
the bare floors of the apartment.
It was hard to get up. Some
of that June nothing seemed
to lure like steaming coffee
and mangoes. I hated it when he
wrote his wife, Caitlin. Though he
called her a fishmonger, he still wrote
with one arm shadowing the page. Light
through jade glass, days burning
fireflies in September. I knew they
could not stay

When I walk outside
in a state Dylan never got to,
I can still hear him booming
herons and staring into that shabby
city apartment where I see the birds
by the water going after corn and
bread. Geese and mallards, those bright
days falling through my fingers
make circles within circles
and then are gone


It was just a blur, like you might think
stumbling from the White Horse Tavern,
the maples already tinged with blood.
He wasn't loud, he wasn't his voice,
wasn't that poet booming on records,
all Swansea and raging.
There was no wild dying of the light.
We stopped for egg creams. He loved

them better than the cream of a woman's
thighs he collapsed in, took
the long-legged bait and shipwrecked.
But, it was the cove of skin, the warmth,
everything unlike the dark coal mines or
the grey mist of Rhemny. I won't forget
the softness of his curls. He wasn't my
type, too fair and didn't work out,

his body, soft as his lips. He was more
like a pet, a kitten I let cuddle
against me. Was I a virgin? What does
that matter? When he held my cat, who
always hissed at new people, she let
him press her into his skin as if, like
when he held me, her fur could keep

fear from spilling and staining the
rest of Wednesday


She was more hands on. I had taken
a few lessons as a child, but she wanted
to plunge in. I told her I didn't want
any injuries. Ballet was my obsession
and even a mild Achilles tendon ache
or sore knee makes me seethe. She
was a good dancer, you should have
seen her in that tight red dress, blonde
hair. Neither of us were as blonde as
we pretended. What isn't an illusion
with poets? Stages of trying to pare
everything down, poems, our legs,

our whole bodies. Not that she was
ever as plump as I was. I painted
horses, as she did, fell in love with
their beauty, wildness. We both fell
for those enormous mahogany eyes,
as we did for many similar lovers:
big untamable, a little scary. We
could lose ourselves in their
manes, leave whatever was most
terrifying or hideous out of sight.
When I wrote about Ruffian, the
gorgeous  tragic race horse, Sylvia

understood how the world went
away, as when she brushed Ariel,
loosed the cake mud from her
flanks and tail. There was no one
to bother her, no nasty notes from men,
no over-worried mother's calls or
letters, intrusions we both knew
too well and couldn’t quite deal
with. No one was telling us
what to do when we were lost
in horses. No advice, threats,
warnings. We both had had it
being told what to do

Early morning, before it's light,
to be one with a horse, especially
if it's your birthday: ecstasy.
Sometimes, it's as though
it's too much to be charming,
and still, give up wildness.
When Sylvia rode Ariel
as dark sky began to lose
its ink, she broke for that
moment, out of everything
holding her, as I did with Ruffian,
cantering, galloping, airborne,

no longer daughter, mother, wife


headed up State Street
it was June, still light.
Alone. I couldn’t believe
it. The last raspberry
light over the old down
town buildings. I watched
him pass Proctor’s, the
only lit up building, past
boarded up cafes. I could
not believe there was
not a flotilla of women
behind him. I had not
written a poem yet, I was
afraid to ask him to auto-
graph the book I clutched.
Alone. After all the
women he left in tears.
Sometimes sent yellow
roses to. Sometimes
mourned on the page.
Alone. The most
handsome. Even years
later I could never tell him
it was like seeing a Bugatti,
a Lamborghini somehow
in the living room to see
him just leaving alone,
strolling thru the town
empty as a De Chirico
painting while I stood with
my mother in front of the
bookstore that no longer is,
held my breath


It’s not true, he never chose women.
I ought to know. It was Grenada and 
the sun falling behind the Alhambra was
flaming lava. I could say I was
too but some things should be left unsaid.
But I remember his fingers on the buttons
at the back of my neck, my skin burned
as he fumbled with rhinestone and pearls.
I want you breathed into my neck though
perhaps he was whispering Green,
green I want you green. How little he
needed to impress me with his poems.
One English term paper with them and I
was naked, taken. It wouldn’t matter if
he had a pot belly or stank of garlic.
My jeans were a puddle around my
knees. I was the gored bull, hypnotized
by moves I’d only imagined but never
believed would enter me. There’s
more you might coax me to say but
for now, it’s enough I can still smell the
green wind, that 5 o’clock in the afternoon
that would never be another time


Write, he said looking
like an even craggier
Lincoln, your impressions,
the next four days, details
of a walk across campus.
Even now I remember I
wore a strawberry wool
skirt, matching sweater.
There was bittersweet
near the Hall of Language.
I curled in a window
ledge of a cave in Crouse,
an organ drifting through
smooth warm wood. I
could let the wind
dark light hold me, slid
on the ice behind where
a man with a blue mole
picked me up, my notes
for poems scattering up
Comstock. I was hypnotized
by that huge growth, said
yes though I only half
remembered. Upstairs,
icicles clotted, wrapped
glass in gauze. There must
have been someone who
didn’t call. Blue walls,
ugly green bedspread.
Dorothy popping gum, eating
half a tuna sandwich before
we’d lie in bed with the
lights out wondering what
it would be like to have
Dr. Fox with his red beard
go down on us as we
braided and rubbed our
mahogany hair dry and I
tried to figure out what to
do with the bittersweet,
ragged maples, didn’t
believe I’d ever have any
thing to write about

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