Corrections or additions?
This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the April 10, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Keeping Cool for Poetry Month
The situation just oozes with poetic justice: At the
height of national poetry month, the "Cool Women" poets are
back, in person and in print. In both mediums, they continue to
that the only thing better than one right-on poet is seven of them
— so let’s hear it for the "Cool Women," who will
their new poetry anthology at Barnes & Noble in April.
About five years ago, the seven poets — most of them published
far more widely than the Princeton-Rocky Hill neighborhoods they share
in common — began meeting once a month to critique one another’s
work. The sessions were congenial as well as helpful, and the poets
continued the practice.
Then to mark Valentine’s day, 2000, Princeton’s Micawber Books invited
them to read their work. The story goes that these "women of a
certain age" decided they needed a group name to dispel any notion
that they wrote a "Roses are red" variety of poetry. They
settled on "Cool Women," and read some revelatory poetry of
varying temperatures, including hot — to great acclaim.
Their packed debut (U.S. 1, February 9, 2000) created, in effect,
a performance and critique collective. And the agenda for the monthly
critique sessions grew to include discussion of performance venues
and talk about the books.
Before long, "Cool Women, Volume One" (c. 2001) came along.
Now nearly sold out, the book contains 60-some poems, in three
by the seven poets. "Accessible" can be a
critical term, but where poetry’s concerned, it can only be good news,
causing skeptics and outright poetry-haters to re-think their
and maybe even move into the pro-poem camp.
These women live life, and write about it. The light they shine on
their own experiences illuminates our own. Love, marriage, illness;
families, landscapes, nature; and occasional literary or art allusions
— it’s all there. Unrhymed verse is the rule; raggedy lines and
irregular verses are common. And eminently readable.
More writing and critiquing, and more public readings followed the
first book, and now it’s almost time for "Cool Women, Volume
On Tuesday, April 16, the second book will be launched at Barnes &
Noble, MarketFair. Needing no poetic license, Eloise Bruce, Carolyn
Foote Edelmann, Lois Marie Harrod, Betty Lies, Joyce Grenberg Lott,
Judy Michaels, and Penelope Scambly Schott plan a
taking turns reading from their work.
In the last year, Schott and her husband, Eric Sweetman, formerly
a physicist with Lucent Technologies, became casualties of the area’s
job cutbacks and moved to Oregon. Penelope now commutes to the
area for group performances and critique sessions. (Now that’s
Eloise Bruce, one-seventh of the "Cool Women" and the poet
who handles such matters as bar codes, was asked recently if she ever
expected Volume Two. "Yes! Now when you order the ISBN numbers,
you have to buy 10 of them," she explains. So even before the
first volume appeared, she had told her fellow poets to get set for
A "Cool Women" anthology starts with everyone submitting 10
or so poems. Then volunteers select and sequence the work to be
or re-type for uniformity, or proof, or publicize the volume. Cover
designs are the work of Gary Lott, husband of a cool woman. (His first
cover featured a waterfall over a high, rocky cliff; the second cover
is more abstract, in warmer tones of orange and yellow. Whether that
design presages the work inside remains to be seen.)
So next week it will be Volume Two, or as one of Bruce’s poems puts
The key in the door shines.
Come in. The poem is just here. Come inside.
Since the group’s first anthology, member Judy Michaels
has published her own, "The Forest of Wild Hands," while
Bruce has contracted for one, "My People," due out from
Press in Fall, 2003.
Married to a poet, Southern-born Bruce, who lives in Lawrenceville,
began in the theater, only switching to poetry about a decade ago.
Her professional experience and master’s degrees in English and
have all fed into her current writing, where her background in
shows — although her language is contemporary, his music is in
her ears, she says.
Bruce is the first writer in her family. Although she often starts
with autobiography, she fictionalizes it to make a poem work;
truth" results. "My mother always said, `I want you to write
our family story,’ and god, she’d turn over in her grave to see what
I did. She may have thought of a big history novel, but that’s not
what I’m about," she says.
Many of her days are taken up, happily, involved with writing programs
in New Jersey public schools. She is a member of the artist team for
ACES (Arts Create Excellence in Education), affiliated with the New
Jersey Writers Project, and on the roster of Young Audiences of New
Jersey. Are kids resistant, Bruce is asked. "I find a way in.
If a kid says `No’ to me, I say, `What about, what about, what about.
A board member of the Trenton Museum Society that governs Ellarslie,
the Trenton City Museum, Bruce developed and directs the docent
there. In 1998, she was awarded a fellowship in poetry by the State
Council on the Arts. For about five years, Bruce was also
as a caterer, only recently letting her license lapse.
I will dish up a broth delicate
as the memory of wind
in this past summer’s grass, bread
toothsome as the joy of a blue moon.
as well as a poet. See and hear — and maybe read — for
at Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, April 16.
— Pat Summers
"Cool Women" poetry group returns with a new anthology of
poems. Members are Eloise Bruce, Carolyn Foote Edelmann, Lois Marie
Harrod, Betty Lies, Judith Michaels, and Penelope Schott. Free.
April 16, 7 p.m.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.