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Lyn Lifshin



Lyn Lifshin's poetry has appeared in a multitude of magazines, from American Scholar to Rolling Stone. She has edited four anthologies of women's writing including TANGLED VINES, which is now in its second edition and was named by Ms. Magazine as one of the 60 best books of the year. Other anthologies she edited include ARIADNE'S THREAD and LIPS UNSEALED. "The No More Apologizing, The No More Little Laughing Blues," included in her new book, BEFORE IT'S LIGHT from Black Sparrow Press, has been called "among the most impressive documents the women's poetry movement has produced," by Alicia Ostricker. "Writing Mint Leaves at Yaddo," a prose piece was selected as one of the best pieces of writing about writing by Writer's Digest and Story magazine.

The award-winning documentary film, "Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass," was called "an extraordinary profile of a unique feminist," by Booklist and Mary McCarthy declared," for it's passionate defense of poetry and the written word...should be required viewing in every school in America."

Lifshin's work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women including "DICK FOR A DAY," "UNSETTLING AMERICA," "LEGACIES," "MOTHER SONGS," "HER FACE IN THE MIRROR," "POETS AT WORK," "NEW TO NORTH AMERICA," "THE HOLOCAUST," and "IDENTITY LESSONS."

Lifshin's poetry collections include BLUE TATTOO, MARILYN MONROE, NOT MADE OF GLASS, and, more recently, COLD COMFORT, in which, Small Press Review declared, "...The most published poet in the world today, Lifshin shows here what many literary magazine editors have known for decades: she's a poet of substance, range, and invention."

Her intense poems reflect a range of emotions and subjects and touch readers because they suddenly realize that feelings they previously thought to be theirs alone are shared.  Winner of many awards including a Bread Loaf Fellowship, The Jack Kerouac Award and New York State Caps Grant, she gives readings, talks and workshops, often based on the books she has edited or exhibits in museums, around the country and has been poet in residence at many colleges, libraries, and centers.

Sunset Limited

       Romare Beardan

       "There are roads out of the secret place within us which we must all move as
         we  go to touch others"

woman in hot morning
light cradling her baby
like ripe fruit. Earth is
a bracelet around her.
Chickens and the dark
horse charms she moves
like a dancer flashing.
Nothing doesn't shimmer
as the Sunset Limited
blows thru. Emeralds,
jades, and roses. The
train's whistles and
wheels, its music, light
blazing on mahogany skin


May 10

my grandmother's birthday
and the day they gave my
father for his birthday,
all records lost leaving

Vilnius, the anniversary
of the Nazi's first book
burning. I think of my
grandmother in a house

the maples already
towered above hearing
the news the first day it
might have been warm

enough to sit out on the
glider, feeling a chill,
wrapping the rainbow
afghan around her, her

youngest just in his teens
almost close enough
to have to leave her. She
will not stop sleeping, answer

the phone with a terrified
what's wrong as blood
and snow spirea open
in weeks, the peonies

that will outlast her and
her boy filling with ants
you could see from
the glider as a faint shadow


In The Park, Before Ballet

a man asleep on the bench
head covered with a CVS bag,
a couple with braided arms
giggling past him, past the rose
of Sharon. An empty orange
juice carton, newspaper in
case or rain. Two years ago,
walking across this park,
pear blossoms exploding on
all sides, I thought of someone
who would always be missing.
New buildings instead of
trees. My old cat who slouched
all Sunday at the bottom of
the bed, emerald eyes glazed,
her body, a flung glove, today
asks for food, a gift, a reprieve
as this sun must feel to the
man, after weeks of rain, his arms
touching earth as if waiting for
a hand to pull him back down


The Swans Must Be Here

on the other side of the blinds
on the black glass of the pond
I won't see them. They dissolve
in the light like those guava
streaks of carp, a slash of salmon
grosgrain, the kind of sun you
can't hold on to. Enough to know
they will leave a feather, other
clues. Even the geese are scarce

this April. The swans are still
tough only some are mute swans.
They stay in the dark leaves
close to the water. The bed is
like a boat navigating by stars,
oblivious, like the birds, to the
squeal of the metro cars. Some
times I'm sure I can hear the swans
breathe. Cat tails and lilies graze

their beaks like mermaid's hair,
like my hair if I plunged in. At
night I imagine swimming close to
them, my pale hair like kelp, my
skin as colorless as the oval of their
bodies. Their black eyes are the
onyx my mother left me I could see
myself in, see her eyes as the river
currents rock us


Reading The Poem My Cousin Wrote That I Hadn't

I didn't know she
watched men watch
me walking, thought
I was beautiful

When we kiss she
wrote we come close
but we kiss air.
I haven't seen her

for so long. I
never read the poem
about sleeping together
in the lake house

before my wedding,
never heard her say,
"I want to put my
arms around my

cousin and kiss the
night from her"


All Copyright, Lyn Lifshin.
All Rights Reserved. Printed By Permission. 


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Updated on: June 08, 2001 13:59:25 -0400