My first poetry publication came when I was seven years old, in the comics section of a Boston Sunday newspaper — they had a little space reserved for poems and artwork by kids. JK: All of my great-grandparents came over from Ireland and settled around Boston.
Given that I was applying for colleges at the same time a lot of traditionally male-only universities were finally opening up to women, I was also impressed that Cornell had always admitted women — we weren’t going to be patronized there. Ammons — “Archie,” to us students — and Bill Matthews were both on the faculty then, and when Bill left, Robert Morgan was hired to replace him. You would not believe the students who were there at the same time I was, all of whom have gone on to publish multiple volumes of poetry. Wendy Battin was the editor of the “official” Cornell literary magazine, Rainy Day, and just to be orney, Mark Anderson and Gil Allen and I founded an alternative magazine called Solstice — we’d type the thing up on a rented IBM typewriter that cost us our beer money for the week.
And then Diane Ackerman took two of my poems for Epoch when she was the poetry editor — I was an undergrad and she was in the Ph D program, so I was thrilled beyond belief that she considered me a “real poet.” T.
Coraghessen Boyle, Marilyn Hacker, and Sandra Gilbert all had work in that Winter 1974 issue of Epoch.
One of her uncles was the town drunk, serenading her friends from his hangout on the Foxboro town common. My mother wanted to get the hell out of Foxboro, and my father wanted to succeed as a newscaster, so they both got rid of their accents and the trappings of ethnicity.
We moved around a lot when I was a kid, because of my father’s career ambitions.
He had the most beautiful bass speaking voice you’ve ever heard, and he studied broadcast journalism at Boston University and became a radio and TV newscaster.