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Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Poetry Show features Rachel Hadas

The Poetry Show -- 6 March 2017 on EPIC Radio

7:30--9:00 AM Mondays

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This week's Poet is Rachel Hadas

Poet, translator, essayist, and professor, Rachel Hadas was born in New York City on November 8, 1948. Her father, who died when she was seventeen years old, was a noted classics scholar at Columbia University. She also studied classics, graduating from Radcliffe College with a B.A. in 1969. She then spent four years living in Greece before entering graduate school. She studied poetry at Johns Hopkins University (M.A.) and comparative literature at Princeton University (PhD.). In 1981, she joined the faculty of Rutgers University at Newark, where she is currently Board of Governors Professor of English. She has published widely, both poetry and prose, as well as editing anthologies. Among her books of poetry are Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), The River of Forgetfulness (David Robert Books, 2006), The Golden Road (TriQuarterly Books, 2012) and, most recently, Questions in the Vestibule (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2016). She also published prose, including The Double Legacy: Reflections on a Pair of Deaths and Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia and Poetry. The latter book concerns her husband's diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease at age 61 in 2004, a topic she also wrote about in poetry, some of which is contained in the memoir. Her numerous awards include a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the O. B. Hardison Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

The week's featured poem, "Balancing," is from her most recent collection of poems, Questions in the Vestibule (TriQuarterly Books/ Northwestern University Press, 2016). It is a formal poem, a villanelle, but instead of repeating whole lines, she just repeats the ending phrases.


To land in a story whose end I do not know—
as if we ever saw to any end—
I try to keep my balance, high and low.

The sliver of this moon, discreet and new—
waxing? Waning? I forget. They blend
in a sky whose limits we don't know.

Out of the silk and velvet bedroom now
to jagged crevices, uneven land
I stagger, lurching between high and low.

One foot. The other. Careful where I go.
Where am I going? I cannot pretend
to map this new terrain. Nor do I know

just what meanders led me here to you,
oasis or mirage. Beloved friend,
a shadow looms. Now something's swooping low,

a storm of wings exploding in the blue.
Light is pouring through a mortal wound.
I am afraid to see. I want to know.
I clutch at uprights, reeling, high and low.

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