Photo: Jordan F.B. Rueckert
Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehler’s second poetry collection offers a rich variety of moods ranging from despair to hope, resignation to determination, fury to love. And always there is that wry (sometimes rueful) wit at play. Ending in a series of love poems addressed to children and grandchildren, the book paints the portrait of a splendidly unpredictable, courageous and humane woman. About Seasoning Drew Sanborn has written, “These poems tell the truth. They come from a life dedicated to learning – not only the learning of books and classrooms, although Elizabeth has always done that remarkably well – but the learning that comes from listening carefully to her own true self and to the deepest selves of those around her. As she examines her childhood, her family life, and issues raised by politics and the environment, she is not afraid to ask hard questions and not afraid to confront the truths they reveal.” David Holdt adds this: “Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers is the smartest person I know. Yet she is no dry didactic. Her insights flash, her allusions expand our understanding, and her conclusions warm our hearts. She touches the essential in every poem. She cares deeply about what is important and includes the reader in her quest for the true, the beautiful, and the human.” And this praise from Jarold Ramsey: “The poems in Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers’ Seasoning are by turns angry, nostalgic, bitter, despairing, and forgiving, as they circle around the central question of this compelling book — ‘How should I matter to myself?’ — and they accept no easy answers or facile comforts. But in a remarkable concluding series of poems about the weddings of her sons and the company of her small grandchildren, she strikes a beautiful, affirming chord that plays over the whole collection. Out of the seasons of one woman’s life emerges the ‘seasoning’ that is real wisdom.”
 Cover Photo by the Author
Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She spent her early years in the Midwest, then moved to Buckhead, Georgia, at that time a small town just northeast of Atlanta. She went back to Ann Arbor, to the University of Michigan, for her undergraduate work. While there, she received a Hopwood Award in Poetry. Having dropped out of college and married young, she spent several years giving birth to children and going along with her husband’s career moves, managing in the meantime to finish her B.A. and go on to earn an M.A. at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. After the marriage ended, Elizabeth came to Connecticut in 1979 as a visiting-writer-in-residence at Trinity College. Finding that she liked living in Connecticut, she decided to settle in the state after her contract at Trinity ended. While re-training to become a therapist and counselor, she taught part-time at local colleges and served as visiting writer in several public school systems. Since the mid-eighties, she has maintained a private practice in psychotherapy in West Hartford. To her great and continuing delight, three of her sons, with their wives, and—so far—one granddaughter and two grandsons, live in the immediate area. Her fourth son, with his family, lives in upstate New York. According to family legend, Elizabeth began making poems when she was three, engaging her mother as amanuensis. She has been making them ever since, sometimes writing them down, occasionally putting them out into the world. Leaping and Looming (2005) is a collection of poems written from 1979 to 2004. Elizabeth was featured in the first year of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and has received many awards, including the North Country Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nomination from Nimrod magazine. During most of her years in Connecticut, Elizabeth has met regularly with a group of poets who both sustain each other and give each other a hard time as they go over their work. Each summer they get together for poetry camp at Elizabeth’s cabin on Stave Island in the St. Lawrence River.

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BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN 978-0-9817883-5-7
Length: 100 pages, 6" x 9" paperback

 

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GIRLS DON’T DO THAT

That refrain clanged
with menace over my youth.
I wanted to mow the lawn,
not scrub the toilet bowl,
but “girls don’t do that.”
I liked jacks and jump rope,
Red Rover, Kick the Can —
only jump rope was approved.
And what I really loved
was baseball, staring down
the pitcher, pulling back
and letting rip, vibrations
zinging through my life.
“Girls don’t do that.” Well,
I did. And was not sorry,
am not sorry, only
pissed that “NO” was everywhere.
Wearing bluejeans? Taking
physics? Wanting to study
rocks? Girl did that.
So there.

NOVEMBER MORNING

Like that of a kettle just beginning to simmer
a small noise lifts my head from the paper.
Turning my ears this way and that
I cannot find the sound. My eyes see
a full golden oak westward across
the street and hurtling black shadows to
the east. At first I think my vision’s failing.
Then I watch, through trunks of loopy spruce,
across the gray white of my shed, the noise
define itself into a total racket
of swooping, swirling, screaming, darting blackbirds.
We have been chosen. It is a visitation.

They alight and roost, making the market
sounds of other cultures, older lands.
Out front, low gold light takes
the neighbor’s oak to glory. I would live
no other place, no other time.

EMORY CHAPEL

It was not love. He was the older
brother of a friend, already
second year in college, studying
what – I do not remember.
I do recall the clear Georgia
night, soft and silent. We
hid his father’s car behind
the chapel. Then we broke in.
Not to damage or destroy,
not even to disfigure. We
had come to play the organ, all
stops out. A hymn, a lot of Bach,
some rocking boogie woogie, a last
away, away, away down South
in Dixie. Then we ran. No one
chased us. Nothing untoward
occurred. I am not sure I ever
saw the boy again. I heard
his life did not go well.

THE SOLITUDE OF HOMEBODY PANTS

On the street of lone women
I remembered the time
– twenty-five years ago now –
when I’d gone out to a singles dance
in search of a lovable man.

I stood on the sidelines and smiled
for awhile, then went to the hall
where refreshments were offered.
Waiting in line behind some lone men
I listened discreetly to what they said.

One, enormous, grotesquely fat,
was loudly telling a tiny old man
about the last broad he’d nearly seduced
until everything had fallen down
because of her plain white cotton pants.

I stood there wondering why I’d been born
to suffer a life and fate such as this.
My own white cotton underpants
felt clean and simple and lovingly fit.
I turned and left and never went back.


SADIE AT THE SOLSTICE

Winter solstice nearly here
and Sadie stopping by.
At twelve months and ten days
she’ll not much longer stand
for standing still.

Here I am after seventy-three
years of standing-still-suns,
lighting candles to beseech
earth’s tilting back once more.
Fiat. Fiat. Fiat.

May this shining child move
through the years of her time,
tilting only with the earth,
trusting Marduk yet again
to tame the beasts of chaos.

Five thousand years ago Newgrange
was built in Ireland to take in
that first ray of dawn marking
Winter Solstice. It’s still there.
Perhaps I have not yet outlived my time.

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