Featured Poet: Meg Kearney, New Ipswich
Meg Kearney’s first collection of poetry, An Unkindness of Ravens, was published by BOA Editions Ltd. in 2001. The Secret of Me, her novel in verse for teens, was released in hardcover by Persea Books in 2005; the paperback edition, along with a teacher’s guide, came out in 2007. Four Way Books published her newest collection of poems, Home By Now, in fall 2009; by the week of November 9 it appeared as #8 on the contemporary poetry bestseller list (visit www.poetryfoundation.org). Her picture book, Trouper the Three-Legged Dog, is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2012 and will feature illustrations by E.B. Lewis. Meg has taught poetry at The New School University, and is the Director of the Solstice Creative Writing Programs of Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. She was the Associate Director of the National Book Foundation, sponsor of the National Book Awards, for more than 10 years. Her poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily and Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac,” and has been published in such publications as Poetry, Agni, and Ploughshares, as well as the anthologies Urban Nature (Milkweed, 2000), Poets Grimm (Storyline, 2003), Never Before: Poems About First Experiences (Four Way Books, 2005), Shade (Four Way Books, 2006), The Book of Irish American Poetry from the 18th Century to the Present (Notre Dame Press, 2007), and Conversation Pieces: Poems that Talk to Other Poems (Knopf, Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series, 2007). She is also co-editor of Blues for Bill: a Tribute to William Matthews (Akron University Press 2005). A native New Yorker (hailing from both Manhattan & the Hudson Valley), Meg now lives in New Hampshire.
For more information: www.megkearney.com.
“Home By Now” is the title poem of my most recent collection, which seems to have one foot planted in New Hampshire and the other in New York, where I lived until 2005. I was living in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, but honestly never thought I would write about that day. Yet a few years later echoes of it started creeping into my work, and after a while I stopped trying to edit them out. It’s nearly impossible to be a writer living in this world and avoid writing about the fact that we’re at war; but it wasn’t until this book came out and I started reading the poems in public that I realized just how much the themes of war and September 11 had woven themselves through so many of the poems. Perhaps my being in New Hampshire was a sort of catalyst, as in many cases—such as “Home By Now”—I thought I was writing about my new home state and instead I was also writing about the place of my birth (much more than I did when I lived there). Of course, there’s nothing like leaving one’s home for another to bring on the question of what exactly “home” is, and when we know we’re there.
Home By Now
New Hampshire air curls my hair like a child’s
hand curls around a finger. “Children?” No,
we tell the realtor, but maybe a dog or two.
They’ll bark at the mail car (Margaret’s
Chevy Supreme) and chase the occasional
moose here in this place where doors are left
unlocked and it’s Code Green from sun-up,
meaning go ahead and feel relieved—
the terrorists are back where you left them
on East 20th Street and Avenue C. In New York
we stocked our emergency packs with whistles
and duct tape. In New England, precautions take
a milder hue: don’t say “pig” on a lobster boat
or paint the hull blue. Your friends in the city
say they’ll miss but don’t blame you—they
still cringe each time a plane’s overhead,
one ear cocked for the other shoe.
For more information about Meg Kearney visit: