Published on Academy of American Poets (

In the courtyard

Some mauve words, some beaded trees:
this part of spring overwhelms me,
each planted tree a comparison
done in seed pearls, a version
onto which strips of lilac felt are pressed
then held in place for a few seconds
above a generalized base—
as though created by someone skilled with a glue gun
& the types of detail I’m no good at.
I can’t compete: what I’ve done
stands toward the back of the courtyard near the church wall,
a few fuzzy words from several years ago.
That one of the words has turned a shade of ochre
that's hard to come by—that I’ve been trying to put my hands
         on for years—
purely by chance (plus exposure to a few
back-to-back winters) is most discouraging.


From Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Alexandria Peary. Used with permission of the author.


Alexandria Peary

Alexandria Peary was born to an American father and a German mother in Dover, New Hampshire and grew up in her parents’ convenience store in central Maine. She received a BA from Colby College; MFAs from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire. Peary is the author of five volumes of poetry: Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021); The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019); Control Bird Alt Delete (University of Iowa, 2014), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; and Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011), recipient of the Slope Editions Book Prize.

Peary specializes in mindful writing to alleviate writing blocks and is the author of Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge, 2018). Her presentations on mindful writing include a web series for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a webcast for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and her 2019 TEDx talk, “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write.” Peary is also the author of a collection of creative writing pedagogy co-edited with the poet Tom C. Hunley, Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015).

Peary teaches at Salem State University and is the poet laureate of New Hampshire.

Read about Alexandria Peary’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.

Date Published: 2011-01-01

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