Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 23, 2010


When I started taking my poetry writing more seriously about five years ago, I sometimes thought of my friend Kathryn Olga Daniels. Back when we were both English majors at UMass, we talked about poetry we read, sometimes went to readings, and on very wonderful days Kathy gave me a papers folded in half with her typed poems inside.

All these years later, I don’t see Kathy much, but this December she mailed me a copy of Poems from the Women’s Movement: she went to a reading given by some of those in the anthology, and had the book signed not only by editor Honor Moore, but by some of the other poets: Erica Jong has the zippiest autograph with one looping J or is it an E?

A lot of good poems are inside, but maybe I love the book most as an evocation of the giver. With the book on my desk, I feel Kathy slip back into my room. The plain urgent language of the poems she wrote in college helped shape my idea of what a poem should be. The sharp edges of her images. The very short story within. The way everything rumbled quietly to an end that smacked and left an echo. Many of these poems posed questions to Kathy’s mother who died when Kathy was just a young girl.

Kathy and I met in a class called Lost New England Writers. I researched Alice Brown, who wrote stories about life in nineteenth century New Hampshire, while Kathy bravely set out to read some of the work her mother had left behind: letters and some poems she’d sent to magazines like Good Housekeeping. Kathy read between the cheerful rhyming lines in search of a woman she wanted to know better.

Legacies. Friends. Often when I write poems, I feel as if I’m leaning into Kathy’s shadow.

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  1. Legacies. Friends. Often when I write poems, I feel as if I’m leaning into Kathy’s shadow.

    Really beautiful, Jeannine.

  2. Hi Jeannine,
    How wonderful to hook up with your old friend, Kathy!
    I think so many poets are influenced by who you read just as you were influenced by Kathy.
    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  3. Elaine Magliaro
    This is a really lovely and touching post. I consider myself most fortunate to have good “writer” friends who have helped, supported, and inspired me. I’m not sure I’d still be writing poetry today if I didn’t have people like them to talk to over the years.

  4. Beautiful tribute
    to the friends who cheer us on — they are the deep spring that feeds poetry. Jeannine, thanks for the post. Like you, I’m deeply grateful to the friends who share their poetic life with me.
    from Laura @AuthorAmok

  5. Beautiful post, Jeannine.

  6. Thank you, Jenny! I know we all have writers and friends we lean into.

  7. It’s sad that we don’t live close enough to see each other often, but it doesn’t mean I don’t often think of her. And I agree with you; so many of us feel like we’re in good company even when alone. Technically. Thank you for your Friday visits, Laura!

  8. Elaine, thank you for stopping by. Yes, I have many projects that have only ever been read by my writing group, and I’ve been one of the few to read some of theirs. And am grateful for both.

  9. Re: Beautiful tribute

  10. Thank you dear Jama.

  11. How lovely to have long-time poetry friends!

  12. I need to write to my college poetry pal and let her know that my poems often “lean into her shadow”…

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