Lisa J. Starr
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An inn-keeper, a mother, a basketball coach and a teacher, Lisa Starr, Rhode Island’s Poet Laureate, divides her time among a variety of interests, her children, and her passion for poetry. She is a two-time recipient of the R.I. Fellowship for Poetry. In her capacity as Poet Laureate, Starr is generating writing circles among student and elderly communities around the state. She has also established poetry circles in hospitals, homeless shelters, prisons, and agencies for children and adults with severe mental and physical disabilities.
In April of 2009 Starr assembled more than a dozen US State Poets Laureate in Rhode Island for “Poetry for Hope,” a series of readings, workshops, and public forums featuring the visiting poets and emerging and established Rhode Island poets and musicians at schools, libraries and cultural attractions around the state. The poets worked with more than 7500 Rhode Islanders during the 5-day poetry sweep.
Starr’s third collection of poems, Mad With Yellow, was published in September, 2008. She is the author of two other books: This Place Here (2001) and Days of Dogs and Driftwood (1993). Starr is the founder and director of the Block Island Poetry Project, a nationally acclaimed celebration of the arts and humanity, now in its 6th year. A poet by choice and an innkeeper by necessity, Starr owns and operates the Hygeia House, a 10-room inn on Block Island. The brightest lights of her life are her two children, Orrin (12) and Millie (11) and her dog, Brother. When time permits, she writes her heart out.
For A Student In One Of My Basic Writing Classes
Not only are permanent goodbys the worse, but it is also one of the most
horrible things about life in general.
— Excerpt from a student's essay, written,
by the author's choice, on “saying goodbye.”
May I just say that I love you, Lauren Lonucci
and that somehow your paper made me weep?
You will find the words, eventually,
you will learn to live with grief.
Surely, your diction will improve.
But your heart — your heart is home already.
My young friend, you got this sentence wrong
about eight different ways,
but that bit about permanent good-byes —
A+, A+, A+.
Three For September
And when, dear one, you are so weary
you are ready to give up,
think then of the Canada Geese—
the way all day
they shout back at the beating,
broken heart of the world
“I am lonely too.
Keep flying. Keep flying.
I am lonely too.”
These days, even spiders
have gone lovely and all day long,
I dodge their delicate webs,
and just today I walked the labyrinth with dragonflies.
I’d never noticed how they latch,
horizontally, to the flowers—
how they defy gravity,
how their needle noses
play the wildflowers like trumpets.
Whoever said God is a man was wrong,
just like whoever said God is a woman.
Clearly, God is September,
the apostles are goldenrod,
and the psalms are the breeze that stirs the field.
And if, even now, you still question your own belief,
maybe now is the time to take a look at your one, good life—
and the way you, too, sometimes shine and sway
just like those weeds in the meadow, gone mad with yellow.
I went back to the sandpipers today—
it’s been a while.
Six of them, or
was it twenty? Never matters;
somehow we all know when a meeting
has been called,
somehow we all know
when the surf will start
its wild silver hair.
One time I was astonished
to find them waiting for me
on the beach in Newport.
It was so quiet
it was like rain,
without the rain.
I wasn’t planning it
my car just brought me there,
a most uncommon thing—
it’s not that kind of car
but there we were, alone on a beach.
It almost made me giddy,
I’d forgotten how much
I need them.
Like me they were laughing and
sputtering about the beauty.
A few of them couldn’t help it
and just kept throwing their small bodies
again and again
into the wild, white water.