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Poets' Looks

Arielle Greenberg Bywater




A lot of poets dress well.


One dark-haired poet I know wears an adorable nautical little sweater from time to time, and heels with her jeans, and always looks very put-together.


Her husband is the best-dressed male poet I know, and for a long time coveted boots that zipped up the back of the heel.


A light-haired poet I know always looks like she’s just flown in from some European coastal resort town, in simple silk tops and white jeans and hoop earrings.


I will never forget the felt-appliquéd straight wool skirts of a poet who also wears chic eyeglasses and beautiful sweaters, and who once called a hotel in a panic after she’d left one of her beautiful sweaters in her room while attending the annual AWP conference.


I will also never forget the incongruous orange tank top and cobalt blue strappy heels worn in the woods of a famous arts colony by a poet whose background contains multiple nationalities. The act of bringing cobalt blue high heels to an arts colony in a black-fly infested forest, much less the act of wearing them in the loam and dirt and unpaved paths, fills me with admiration.


And then there is a poet who has worn the same adorable 1940s print day dresses and cat’s eye glasses every day, every time I’ve seen her, for the decade that I’ve known her. It is her Look.



I often think about how I would like to have a Look.





Arielle Greenberg is the co-author, with Rachel Zucker, of Home/Birth: A Poemic (1913 Press, 2011), and author of My Kafka Century (Action Books, 2005), Given (Verse, 2002) and the chapbooks Shake Her (Dusie Kollektiv, 2009) and Farther Down: Songs from the Allergy Trials (New Michigan, 2003). She is co-editor of three anthologies: with Rachel Zucker, Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days (Iowa, 2010) and Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections (Iowa, 2008); and with Lara Glenum, Gurlesque (Saturnalia, 2010). Twice featured in Best American Poetry and the recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship, she is the founder-moderator of the poet-moms listserv.  In 2011 she left a tenured position in poetry at Columbia College Chicago to move with her family to a small town in rural Maine in pursuit of a different pace of life.  But she still cares a lot about clothing, and her latest fashion obsession is the new Jane Eyre movie; she wants to wear more chemises and petticoats.

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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