Sunday, November 20, 2016

News in My Small Corner of the Poetry World

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head Caught in a Kiss

One of the better things happening in the 21st century is the proliferation of small presses. One such press is Terrapin Books, the brainchild of poet Diane Lockward. Diane's first anthology with the press is The Doll Collection which came out earlier this year. With all the craziness in the air these days, I am thrilled to be able to focus on a bit of good news. I've just been told that my poem "Potato Head" first published in The Doll Collection has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Terrapin Books.

This is a beautiful collection of poems with work from Denise Duhamel, Richard Garcia, Mary Ellen Talley, Ingrid Wendt, and Cecilia Woloch among many others. If you are looking for a holiday gift, this would be a good place to start.

Here is my contribution to the collection; I hope you enjoy. Are there still any Howard Johnson's left? The orange and blue signs were scattered across New England promising ice cream and a clean place to sleep. Sweetheart soap was a chidlhood obsession. 

Potato Head

I’ve told you where I’m coming from

so you can piece it together:

Mr. Potato Head sessions with

         Mrs. Potato Head arguing over

         the grocery bill, sex, the imminent

         shut off of the heat. Here in the basement

of grey cement and bare bulbs,

we jabbed plastic spikes deep into Idaho

spuds, added enormous eyes and ears,

       yarmulkes and long beards.

      In the coldness of that house

      I built an empire of miniature soaps

from budget inns and Howard Johnson's

for Mrs. Potato Head to drown

in dishwater: her cups and plates dripping

     Sweetheart clean. We played and played

     not knowing the lives we were inventing

     were old flimflam landscapes

of too much work for not enough pay.

Though sometimes we’d borrow an orange

from the fruit bowl and give it a small hat,

      toothpick legs, and blue magic

      marker boots. We didn’t need maps

      or mirrors to find a way out of the echo

chambers of childhood – just

a vegetable and a fruit repurposed

for two Jewish girls in a basement

      trying with spells and with death-

      defying stubbornness, so hard

     to reshape the afternoon blues.

                    Susan Rich, The Doll Collection, edited by Diane Lockward


  1. I am so happy for you, Susan, and so proud of you, too! May I read it on air? I'm collecting some from friends and would so much like to add this one! Much love!

  2. Thank you, Deb! I would be honored to have you read "Potato Head" on the air. If you could just be sure to mention that it was published in, The Doll Collection, edited by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books. Thank you so much!