Arts & Culture · Poetry

Poetry Sunday: Florence Fogelin Continues

Last Sunday was the first time we have asked a poet to step up to the virtual podium to give us an insight into the inspiration for the work we were about to read (“The Poet at the Podium”).  It is never easy for a poet to do this, since a poem goes through many rewrites before it sets sail, and the moment may have practically disappeared.  Still, Florence Fogelin did take the time to talk with us about the inexpressible “what” of her work.


Here is what she says about “Contact Sheet”: 

People-watching: snapshots of smiles, gestures, postures, and expressions. I try to describe how we see others and are seen by them: reading into silence. 


Contact Sheet


The blind man bares his teeth;
someone told him it would do the trick.
Put a quarter in his cup;
watch him try to grin.


The little girl, the pretty one,
stops her tears, disappointed
of desired effect.
She frames her mouth to look like lipstick.


Lips as grave and tired
as her Picasso-face resting on her elbow,
the woman on the F train holds the baby close
and eats him with her eyes.


They’re old: not much to say
while they chew, carefully, the early-bird special.
Negotiating coats and doors, they leave behind
their hands, semaphores of caring.


Shoulder to wrist to hand. . . .
Her expression floats and hovers near her fingertips.
I wish I could dance. I wonder what I look like
when I look at her?


She takes the mind/body problem
seriously. I’m working on it my way,
testing my smile, trusting it
to speak for me.


                                                            Poem reprinted with the poet’s permission


ff headWe ran Florence’s traditional bio  last Sunday. Today we present her unconventional self-portrait.  It’s one we’re sure you’ll like.

 c.v. of a poet

It only seems
that I have not been
in a single line of work:
student, teacher, historian,
mother, management-trainee
writer, editor,
of the classroom, a college, many kitchens,
wife, lover, friend.
Always a translator
of English into English.

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