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Laurel Blossom

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Member Since: May, 2012

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  Laurel Blossom           

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Award-winning poet, swimmer, and editor, author of the book-length narrative poem, Degrees of Latitude.


Background Information

LAUREL BLOSSOM’s second book-length narrative prose poem, Longevity, will be published by Four Way Books in October, 2015. It explores the idea of sisterhood through the voice of its unreliable narrtor and her relationship with her mother, her best friend, and her younger sister. Excerpts can be found online at Tupelo Quarterly 2, Frigg Magazine #43, and Linner=ts Wings Summer 2014. Another section is forthcoming from Hotel Amerika.

Four Way Books was profiled in the Arts Beat section of the New York Times on July 17, 2014. In order to illustrate the quality of its books, publisher Martha Rhodes featured lines from Laurel's first book-length arrative prose poem, Degrees of Latitude, which was published by Four Way Books in 2007; it tells the geography of a woman's life from Pole to Pole. As part of her research, Laurel visited both the North Pole and the South Pole, the experiences of a lifetime!  

Blossom's most recent book of lyric poetry is Wednesday: New and Selected Poems, Ridgeway Press, 2004.  Earlier books include The Papers Said (Greenhouse Review Press, 1993), What’s Wrong (Cobham & Hatherton Press, 1987), and a chapbook, Any Minute (Greenhouse Review Press, 1979).  An earlier long poem, the mock epic “Easy Come/Easy Go,” was published in American Poetry Review in summer, 1976.  Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, edited by Billy Collins (Random House, 2005), and in national and international journals including Poetry, Pequod, The Paris Review, Pleiades, xconnect, The Carolina Quarterly, Deadsnake Apotheosis, Many Mountains Moving, Seneca Review, things, and Harper’s,among others, and online at friggmagazine.com, BigCityLit.com, and elsewhere.  Her poetry has been nominated for both the Elliston Prize and (multiple times) the Pushcart Prize.

A lifelong swimmer, Blossom is the editor of Splash! Great Writing About Swimming (Ecco Press, 1996) and Many Lights in Many Windows: Twenty Years of Great Fiction and Poetry from The Writers Community (Milkweed Editions, 1997), marking the twentieth anniversary of the founding of The Writers Community, an esteemed workshop and residency program for poets and fiction writers Blossom started with fellow-poet Helen Chasin in 1977. The Writers Community continues as a master class offering several YMCAs around the country as part of the YMCA National Writer's Voice.   

Blossom's earliest poetic influence was A.A. Milne, whose poems in When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six made a permanent impression on her mind.  She wanted to be able to do what those poems did, to make people sad, to make people laugh.  As a teenager, she discovered the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose mix of self-pity and toughness mirrored her own. Her poetry has never outgrown these influences, though they have been modified by reading the Romantics (especially Shelley), Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Berryman, Muriel Rukeyser, and contemporaries Carolyn Forché, Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Thomas Lux, Gary Young, and Sharon Olds, in particular.  


Birth Place
Washington, DC USA
Accomplishments

Blossom has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and Harris Manchester College (Oxford University), where she was elected Regent Emeritus in 2008. Her latest work, Longevity, has been a finalist for the National Poetry Series, The Marie Alexander Prize from White Pine Press, the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Poetry Book Prize, judged by Nikky Finney, and a semi-finalist in the 2011-2012 Poets Out Loud Prize at Fordham University. Her lyric poetry has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and the Elliston Prize.

Additional Information

Blossom's poem "Red Balloon Rising," originally published in Pleiades, was selected by Ted Koser for his American Life in Poetry series for April 16, 2012 and appeared in a number of newspapers nationwide. In June 2014 "Red Balloon Rising" was translated into Spanish on the website for Globus Vermell. Her poem "Poem on a Line from a City Child" won honorable mention in the Peter Pan Prize contest from the South Carolina Poetry Society and her poem "Jason is Risen" won the Constance E. Pultz award from the PSSC in Spring 2013. Blossom serves on the editorial board of Heliotrope: a journal of poetry, whose latest and final issue will be available this year, God willing and the creek don't rise. She serves on the Boards of the Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation in Vero Beach, Florida and the Musical Arts Association in Cleveland, Ohio. She proudly belongs to The Explorers Club in New York City, in part because of her polar "expeditions" and in part because she lives in rural South Carolina, where she curates an occasional poetry and fiction reading series.

Favorite Links

Laurel Blossom
Blossom's freshly updated website gives you access to her full biography, excerpts from her books, poems, and news of upcoming events and more!

Laurel's blog
Blossom's blog brings you updates on her professional and personal life, her own and her friends' accomplishments and interests, and the opportunity to talk back!




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