Wendy Barker's newest book is Weave: New and Selected Poems (2022, from BkMk Press). Her seventh full-length collection of poems is Gloss (St. Julian Press, 2020). Her sixth collection, One Blackbird at a Time (BkMk Press, 2015), received the John Ciardi Prize. Her fifth chapbook is Shimmer (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). Other books include Far Out: Poems of the '60s, (co-edited with Dave Parsons, Wings Press, 2016), Poems’ Progress (Absey & Co., 2002), and a selection of co-translations, Rabindranath Tagore: Final Poems (Braziller, 2001). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2013. Recipient of NEA and Rockefeller fellowships, she is the Pearl LeWinn Endowed Chair and Poet in Residence at UT San Antonio, where she has taught since 1982.
TURNING EIGHTY, RUMINATIONS
"She's not very pretty," Daddy said, when at nine I showed him my drawing of a curly-haired girl.I guess I'd made her nose a bit bulbous, and I hadn't shown her in a frilly dress. "Pretty as a princess," they'd say, and I had sure been gazing at photos of the two princesses my Britishgranny had air-mailed to me. And now that the elder princess, who grew up to be Queen, has died at ninety-six, I'm reminded of the fifties fashions we girls wererequired to follow, ruffles and lace—always, the goal: be prettyas a picture, and a silent one, no one wanted a loud-mouthtwit, just let those hair ribbons floataround soft twirling curls (formed bya Toni permanent wave). And I will never forget the time Daddy scoffed at Mom when she voicedher thoughts about an election, his voice incredulous, "Good grief, you don't know what you're talking about, just stick to your sewing!"Now I know why my being loud has meant more than being pretty.