Josephine Dickinson & Sharon Dolin

Thursday, October 7, 2010, at 7:00pm, poets Josephine Dickinson and Sharon Dolin will usher in the fourth season of the Collected Poets Series. ($2-5 suggested donation)

Josephine Dickinson

Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry, Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, UK, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, UK, 2004), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA, 2007) and Night Journey (Flambard, UK, November 2008). She grew up in London, read classics and philosophy at Oxford and had a career as a composer before moving to Cumbria, UK, where she lives on a tiny hill farm high up in the Pennines near Alston. Earth Journey is her latest project, a collaboration with painter Lionel Playford and film maker Alastair Simmons.

Sharon Dolin

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Sharon Dolin’s fourth book, Burn and Dodge (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008) won the AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. Her other books include Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Heart Work (Sheep Meadow Press, 1995). Recent winner of a Pushcart Prize (2011), she is Writer-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School and also teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y.

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THERE WERE RAINBOWS EVERY DAY …..by Josephine Dickinson


There were rainbows every day

for three or four days afterward.

I sat in the large soft bed

with silence and stillness falling

around me like snow. Cross Fell

was icy white with a shock

of frozen cloud on its uppermost

tip. The carpet by the bed,

washed several times on the last

day you were home, took a week

to dry to a nubbly paperiness.

The henhouse filled with wind,

the roof was ripped away.

First one side of it split

open, then the other.

The garden shed blew apart,

the timbers of the frame rattled loose.

Rain lashed the windows.

The trees strained. The back door

blew open. Greenhouse glass

smashed. You were beautiful.

Your forehead smelled of powdered

millstone grits and moss.

Your ruby lips and throat

glistened. A red dot stood

on your eyebrow. (Did I nick

you slightly when I snipped

those troublesome hairs you’d swiped

me off from trimming?) Your Top

Man shirt and navy soft wool

waistcoat. A barely visible

smudge on your chin where the last

few mouthfuls of soup spooned in

had dribbled out again.

Your gray eyes dry and sinking,

like a Grünewald’s overcome with wonder.


(first published in the New Yorker. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)

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GHAZAL WITHOUT THE MAN by Sharon Dolin

You started out gangly, wrangling without the man.
Now you can’t remember angling without the man.

Winter of frozen cherries matted in his beard,
Spring buds in hair tangling without the man.

Go. Drive a car,  the weather wanders you.
Life’s a zoo, stroke pangolin without the man.

Flux redux, can’t undo. No mournful piccolos.
Such stuff as we are: Philandering without the man?

In Berkeley women loved women, men themselves.
Hard to play it straight, gamboling without the man.

Books inscribed, kisses under sheets––lost things landslide.
Oh, turn not morose, memories dangling without the man.

What if, after all is bled and flung, it won’t add up?
Don’t be so sure you can handle it without the man.

Sleepwalking roofs––you never were that sort.
Picked up, the pieces mangling without the man.

Got floaters in the eyes, water on the knees.
Getting older––still newfangling without the man.

Adrift yet moored, unfocused––is this how it’ll end:
Your name’s spelled mandolin without the man.

(“Ghazal without the Man” from Burn and Dodge, by Sharon Dolin, © 2008. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.)

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