Barbarians in the Kitchen is the first collection of original poetry by Ginny Lowe Connors. Early notices of the book have been enthusiastic:

"Ginny Lowe Connors' poems range from intimate portraits of her family to scenes of historical events in Hartford, all the way to the wild beyond the civilized, to snakes and moose. She writes about the challenges of being a mother, the lives of her children and husband, and about her experiences as a teacher. These are heart-felt poems that portray a multi-faceted intelligence and the breadth of a committed and caring life. Connors' words carry us into beauty effortlessly, as she says of worms in earth, 'without wings, fins or feet.' How lucky we are to have these wonderful poems, how fortunate to have her testimony and witness to the power of the word and a life lived fully and richly here in America." - Hugh Ogden

"In language clear and startling, Ginny Lowe Connors writes of family, middle school, bears, worms, acrobats, tenderness, cruelty, beauty. Barbarians in the Kitchen is an engaging, funny, serious collection." - Suzanne Cleary

"Ginny Connors is a poet who can find beauty while remembering a dangerous childhood game or watching the way a drop of water falls. She is capable of molding words as she seeks to mold her children's wildness into civility, but she is most of all a poet ready to remind us of the beauty found in the quotidian, a poet who urges us never to let the world move beyond our reach." - Bessy Reyna

Ginny Lowe Connors' poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. In 2001 she was awarded first prize in the Atlanta Review's International Poetry Competition. Connors, a teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut, was named "Poet of the Year" by the New England Association of Teachers of English in the fall of 2003. She is the editor of three poetry anthologies, the most recent being Proposing on the Brooklyn Birdge: Poems About Marriage (Grayson Books, 2003).

Click here to read some sample poems from Barbarians in the Kitchen. Click here for Ginny's 2011 reading of recent poems as well as a number from Barbarians in the Kitchen.

Click here to read Ginny's poem "Renowned Animal Trainer in Critical Condition" on Your Daily Poem (go to 2009-12-18). And click here to read "Sweet Molasses," which recently won second prize in the 2009 Perigee Poetry Contest.

The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, ideas for discussion & writing, images, and/or additional poems. Click here to read the seminar offering for Barbarians in the Kitchen.


ISBN: 0-9762091-4-4
Binding: 5/5" x 8/5" trade paperback





We return to the world
from that other place
where gravity spins and spins
till nothing holds and logic
splinters into sparks.

First the blaze of our bodies
settles into separate stars. Then
a little chill caresses my shoulder.
As you fall away from me,
I start to remember who I am
and where it is I’ve landed.

Now your damp skin,
separate from mine,
is something I breathe in.
Your bony shoulder leans
toward me and there
is the little crease in back
of your neck, a thin path
time has ploughed without
your knowledge. In my right ear,
the soft whooshing of my heart,
its small extra beat like a child
hop-skipping to keep up.

My dear, we’ve returned
to our mortal bodies.
It’s the deepest part of winter,
yet I sleep in your steady heat.
On the other side of the glass
long shadows of trees
fall over silent snow.
The moon is just past full.
No other light is needed.


Wrapped in leather cuffs,
studded metal, spikes, bangles,
tarnished, tough resistance,
the girl’s battling for her life. 

She won’t go gently into goodness,
naked in tender skin.
She’ll grind compliance to dust,
swallow her terror and slay 

the ghost of that tragic saint, the one
sanded down lean, smooth,
very nearly perfect,
her beautiful moaning mother. 

She arms herself with blackness,
with chains, with eyes that stab like daggers.
She’ll be everything her mother hates,
if that’s what it takes 

to drag herself out from the burden
of becoming someone else’s dream.
Her mother’s left clutching at a rag,
polishing her grief to turn it pretty 

as the girl flaps off into her own
darkness, righteous and terrified.
The wind screams a cold welcome,
pulls her into its deep embrace.


The Baptist Church Choir of Queens,
New York gathered for a picnic
in Forest Park that day. Potato salad,
pickles, hot dogs, beans 

were spread before them and like drinks
in glasses tipping over, laugher spilled
out everywhere. Its music mixed
with gossip and the clinkety-clink 

of ice cubes in tall cups of lemonade.
Two small girls, bright as pinwheels,
turned cartwheels in the noonday sun.
Gossiping in the shade,

their grandmas never knew
that a mile away, or maybe two,
at the Coleman Brothers Circus,
mayhem switched its tail, trotted through 

a crowd. Forest Park contained
no hint of trouble. Not till the preacher
stood up straight to gape at some
strange vision he could not explain 

did Anna Washington sense
a visitation. And then with Sunday
fervor, though it was Saturday,
Cassandra Jones tensed, 

clutched her flowery breast
and called out Oh my Lord.
Harold, look there!
My Lord, my Lord. And blessed 

if it wasn’t a tiger strolling past,
400 pounds of rippling grace,
white as an Easter lily, his whiskers
lit by the sun. Slowly he lashed 

his tail from side to side.
To protect his small son, a man held
his red plastic Frisbee in front of the boy,
and Anna’s jaw dropped, her mouth wide 

open, as the tiger continued on his way.
Three clowns, awful in their painted grins,
awkward floppy shoes, jogged through
the chittering crowd. Then into the fray 

a trainer dashed, waving some sort of stick
and yelling Stop! Stop!
as if he could magic the beast
into submission. But the tiger had tricks 

of his own. He vanished for awhile,
appearing finally on the hill’s
other side, where he roared or yawned
and lay down in a pile 

of burnished leaves beneath a tree.
Anna Washington felt something
then, began to sing. Hallelujah…
Hal-le-loo-ooh-jah!  Oh, it was something to see, 

six police officers, guns held high,
surrounding a beast magnificent
in its indifference. At a distance
the officers stood, eyeing 

one another, trying to imagine what to do.
Police have no special training
on how to deal with tigers,
the captain explained. Few 

guidelines exist. If wild beauty strays
into an ordinary city park, how should
the law intervene? Only Anna Washington
had the sense to sing that day.

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