Volume 15:4, Fall 2014
A Splendid Wake Issue
Siv Cedering, Roland Flint, and several others met frequently in workshops that ran from 1968 through approximately 1976, often gathering at Cedering’s home on Picasso Lane in Potomac, MD. The workshop originated in a class taught by Rod Jellema at University of Maryland in the late 60s and included Siv Cedering, Eddie Gold, Sue Gordon, Primus St. John and Bill Holland, who was teaching at Maryland at the time. The group continued after the class ended and gradually expanded, following Rod Jellemas annual conference beginning in 1968, Poetry and the National Conscience, to include Ann Darr, Roland Flint, Linda Pastan, Margaret Gibson, Ralph Robin, Gary Sange, Alan Austin, William Claire and Myra Sklarew, among others. William Stafford, Stanley Kunitz and Eugene McCarthy occasionally joined the group when they were in DC. Rod Jellema writes, “I remember changing my role from ‘teacher’ to ‘convener’ in these workshops, which changed my view of leaders of creative writing workshops from professor to midwife!”
Ann Darr once ascertained that some 60 books appeared from this eminent group. Three members were later named state poets laureate: Roland Flint and Linda Pastan both served terms as Poet Laureate of Maryland, and Primus St. John was Poet Laureate of Oregon.
Remembrances of Roland Flint
When Roland Flint gave a poetry reading, his voice was so emotionally resonant that people would leave shaken, exhilarated, and eager to read his books. That voice has been silenced, but the books still remain, moving and true. Perhaps Flints poetry reminds me most of that of his friend James Wright. Both dare to be straightforwardly emotional and both approach the dangerous territory of sentimentality without ever crossing the line into it. And to me, most important, both are masters of metaphor.
Perhaps my favorite Flint poem (“Say It”) uses the example of a bug burrowing deep in his ear to represent the darkness that lies just behind beauty and joy. This is how it ends:
I couldnt hear it until now,
The brown, ugly, implacable bug saying
Pay attention: this is back of any perfect day,
Madness, the childs death, and will not stop,
And saying, by the difference,
Will you hear, now, which side of days you have.
Then thank a mystery that speaks your name,
Thank every trick in our ear, and listen.
Heads of the Children
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you
Father your voice was a fist
to slam my stomach shut
to start me from sleep like a rat,
you were the right and righteous anger,
your voice made me believe
in God in the Devil.
When we meet now, forty and seventy,
you are apologetically quiet,
you put your arms around me
and I know you mean it.
We are both old men.
But I can only remember
being held by you during beatings,
which were not often but terrible,
and always worse, before them,
the fanatical white in your shouting.
I know, now, you didnt mean it.
But listen to me
Im doing the same thing
to my small son.
If my voice said what I mean
he could sleep all night in its branches,
but I hear your outrage in me,
over nothing, a bare lie, or nothing,
and I see him cower for the storm cellar,
just like me, his knuckles white with my yelling.
FatherI love you.
Jesus Christ, where does it end?
And so I will end by saying Remember Roland Flint and his work and Pay attention thank every trick in our ear and listen.
Remembrances of Siv Cedering Fox
We met her as Siv Fox: Hera and Aphrodite and some Nordic goddess whose name we didnt know all rolled into one and living on Picasso Lane in Potomaceven her address was a hymn to art. With electric hair flowing to her waist, with a body to die for, it didnt seem fair that so much talent also resided behind that warm and always welcoming smile. Her poems were startling and strong, as full of images and feeling as she was. And English wasnt even her first language! Even after she left Potomac for Westchester, NY (where my daughter, fittingly, received her first kiss under a sheltering Cedering tree) and later for Long Island, we continued to think of her as part of our own Washington poetry community. We still do. You can never forget so much vibrant force and beauty.
excerpts from “MADWOMAN–a poem in stages”
I have done
with the devil,
felt his fingers
until I moved
in his fire.
In the morning
ashes and fish.
And Godvisions of heaven
in flesh. Angels
in loins, and all that light
lifted. Look at me.
For a girl is looking into
a book about herself.
She is scared of,
and fascinated with,
and a devils
She turns the page.
Her hand hides
the scream. For one word
She throws the book down,
picks it up again.
All words are grief now
and all pictures gone.
But as her stage turns
she lies down, moves arms and legs,
rises, goes to some other place,
until the whole space
My knees are wet.
I didnt know that I had knelt.
The ground is white now
and the roof.
The little horse
to his wind.
Each rose is covered,
and each thorn
of my house,
I must be properly costumed:
with no belief in the future
and no gift
to pray, I prepare
for yet another
It should be a simple
Written by Linda Pastan, September 2013. “Heads of the Children” reprinted from Flint’s And Morning, Dryad Press, 1975, with permission of the publisher, Merrill Leffler. Fox’s “Madwoman – A Poem in Stages” reprinted with permission of Cedering Fox, the poet’s daughter.
Roland Flint (February 27, 1934 - January 2, 2001), was originally from North Dakota, and served in the Marine Corps for two years after high school, and later spent time in Bulgaria. He translated several books of Bulgarian poetry and taught Creative Writing and Literature at Georgetown University for 36 years. From 1995-2000, Flint served as Poet Laureate of Maryland. The loss of his six-year old son in 1972 inspired a number of his poems. Flint's seven books of poems include And Morning (1975), Pigeon (1991), Easy (1999), and Resuming Green: Selected Poems, 1965-1982 (1983). To read more about this author: Grace Cavalieri on Roland Flint: Memorial Issue
Siv Cedering Fox (February 5, 1939—November 17, 2007) is the author of twelve books of poetry, as well as six children's books, two novels, several plays (including musicals for children), translations and screenplays. Born in Sweden, thirty kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, she moved to America when she was 14. She was an exhibiting sculptor and painter, illustrated books, and wrote songs and TV programs for children. Her work was published in journals such as Harper's, Science, Ms., and Georgia Review and in approximately 200 anthologies and textbooks. She did not have any formal training in writing beyond high school, but was mentored by poets such as William Stafford. Fox taught in graduate and undergraduate writing programs all over America. In 1969, she won the John Masefield Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the William Marion Reedy Award from the same society in 1970. In 1974, she won the Best Poems of 1973 Borestone Mountain Poetry Award, and in 1976 she was awarded the CAPS fellowship for poetry from the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1977, she won the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America. Fox also won the Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1985 as well as the Science Fiction Poetry Association Rhysling Award and the New York Foundation for the Arts artists fellowship for poetry that same year. She often wrote about erotic themes in her poetry, and in later years explored combinations of science and legend. A few of her poetry books include Cup of Cold Water (1973), The Juggler (1977), and Twelve Pages from the Floating World (1983).
Linda Pastan is the author of fifteen book of poems, most recently A Dog Runs Through It (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Insomnia (W.W. Norton, 2015). Two of her books were finalists for the National Book Award: PM/AM (1982) and Carnival Evening (1998). She was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995 and winner of the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Other honors include the Dylan Thomas award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, and the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Chevy Chase, MD. To read more by this author: Evolving City Issue, Vol. 8:4, Fall 2007 DC Places Issue, Vol. 7:3, Summer 2006 Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006 Six Poems, Vol. 6:3, Summer 2005 Whitman Issue, Vol. 6:1, Winter 2004