poem index

poet

Linda Pastan

1932- , Bronx , NY , United States
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Linda Pastan

On May 27, 1932, Linda Pastan was born to a Jewish family in the Bronx. She graduated from Radcliffe College and received an MA from Brandeis University.

She is the author of Traveling Light (W. W. Norton & Co., 2011); Queen of a Rainy Country (2006); The Last Uncle (2002); Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (1998), which was nominated for the National Book Award; An Early Afterlife (l995); Heroes In Disguise (1991), The Imperfect Paradise (1988), a nominee for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (l982), which was nominated for the National Book Award; The Five Stages of Grief (l978), and A Perfect Circle of Sun (l971).

About Pastan's The Five Stages of Grief, the poet May Sarton said, "It is about all her integrity that has made Linda Pastan such a rewarding poet. Nothing is here for effect. There is no self-pity, but in this new book she has reached down to a deeper layer and is letting the darkness in. These poems are full of foreboding and acceptance, a wry unsentimental acceptance of hard truth. They are valuable as signposts, and in the end, as arrivals. Pastan's signature is growth."

Among her many awards and honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Dylan Thomas Award, the Di Castagnola Award, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Maurice English Award, the Charity Randall Citation, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She was a recipient of a Radcliffe College Distinguished Alumnae Award.

From 1991 to 1995, she served as the Poet Laureate of Maryland, and was among the staff of the Breadloaf Writers Conference for twenty years. Linda Pastan lives in Potomac, Maryland.

by this poet

poem
I'm only leaving you
for a handful of days,
but it feels as though
I'll be gone forever—
the way the door closes

behind me with such solidity,
the way my suitcase
carries everything
I'd need for an eternity
of traveling light.

I've left my hotel number
on your desk, instructions
about the dog
and heating
poem

for F.

For Jews, the Cossacks are always coming.
Therefore I think the sun spot on my arm
is melanoma. Therefore I celebrate
New Year's Eve by counting
my annual dead.

My mother, when she was dying,
spoke to her visitors of books
and travel, displaying serenity
as a form of manners, though
poem
Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality
of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.
And since we will be
horizontal ourselves
for so long,
let us now honor 
the gods
of the vertical:
stalks of wheat
which to the ant
must seem as