I had the book of names, the Jennifers and Emilys,
but knew she would be none of these.
The names my friends were hoarding
for their daughters-Meghan, Courtney,
Ashley, Sage-seemed out of date
and somehow inappropriate.
How could I know my child would be
something I’d not yet heard of, never seen?
This poem is one of many about mothers and daughters and about a child’s emerging gender. Read all of Sue Ellen Thompson’s outstanding poetry in They, published in 2014 by Turning Point Books, available on Amazon.
“I came here in 2006 because my husband had been hired as president of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. After a few years I discovered I had bonded with the landscape–the endless skies, low roads winding through marshland, and above all, the sense that no matter where I was, there was water all around me. As a lifelong New Englander, I didn’t think I could change my definition of beauty–which had always consisted of hills and high-points, historic architecture, and a coastline crowded with houses and rocky outcroppings–but that’s exactly what happened.”
Sue Ellen Thompson is the author of four previous books of poetry and the editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (2005). Her work has been included in the Best American Poetry series, read on National Public Radio by Garrison Keillor, and featured in U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s nationally syndicated newspaper column. A graduate of Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf School of English, she was a scholar, fellow, and staff member at The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for many years. She has taught at Central Connecticut State University, Binghamton University, Wesleyan University, Middlebury, and the University of Delaware. Although she has spent most of her adult life in Connecticut, she moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2006. Since then she has been a mentor to adult poets and an instructor at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda and Annapolis. In 2010, she received the Maryland Author Award from the Maryland Library Association.
I loved these comments from her:
“A poet with a marketing strategy? Guess you could say it’s “word of mouth.”
“I finally had my website redesigned a couple of years ago and joined Facebook, which I had avoided. But everyone told me it was one of the best ways to develop a “following,” which in my own lame way I have attempted to do. The fact that I teach craft-based workshops in Bethesda, Annapolis, Easton, and Lewes, DE has also turned into a marketing tool for me. People who have taken my workshops want to know, I suppose, if I practice what I teach, so they end up buying my books. But there are so few reading venues on the Eastern Shore–there were dozens in CT, where I lived before–that it has taken me a while to discover some of the opportunities that exist on the other side of the Bay.”