perie longo awc-sb poet laureate photo by r. s. thurston photography rsthurston.com

Poems for 2014 Women of Achievement Award Winners

The Making of an Editor

for Marianne Partridge

When you’re raised on a Long Island race track,
your father a horse trainer, you seek speed,
live the excitement of story, take control of the ending.
When you think you’re not really a writer,
you draw together those who are great,
go for broke, become an editor. When told the job

isn’t for a woman and Rupert Murdock fires you
from the Village Voice, you become a tireless feminist,
dedicate yourself to what Gloria Steinem calls
the “longest revolution.” You dig in your heels,
kick up some dust, get flying and keep flying West.

Lucky us! Mother of the Independent 27 years,
we live Thursday to Thursday when the paper
hits the stands on time, a miracle it crosses
the finish line a staffer says, Marianne a master
at “juggling chaos,” stories bouncing off the walls
she reins in by the skin of her teeth, racing against time
headed to the office from her Valley ranch.

It’s just that her horses gave birth to colts,
her garden called for jam making and canning,
she struck a cow on the road. Once there, breathless,
the paper is all, thirst-quencher for what’s true
in the news. A community stronghold, the staff
her pride, they say it shows on the job
and off, her hand at their backs, children
and dogs welcome at work, her kind presence
in support of their noteworthy moments.

Once she told a newbie, “speaking truth to power”
is what counts. Scratch the rest. Yes,
there’s something about Marianne—editor,
humanist, loyalist, fighter, family woman,
feminist in the lead who makes the magic happen
Thursday to Thursday, every week.

~Perie Longo, June 4, 2014

 

Nancy’s World

for Nancy Leffert, AUSB President

Self-proclaimed gatherer, not hunter,
you won’t catch her wearing leather,
but oh those spunky clothes, pure-her—
you know she’s not your usual university prez,
flame-red hair to match high-wattage energy,
a researcher’s mind. A “front-line fighter”
for those she loves, family first,
you won’t catch her being arrogant.

With a job serious as it gets,
to prove she means her kind of business,
she’s a Fox in Sox—wore rainbow ones
to her Antioch inauguration, other times—
chooses polka dots and stripes, the “goofier”
the better. Fun’s her middle name.

Once told she was not college material,
she got cracking, graduated and hasn’t rested since
while there’s homelessness or poverty or abuse
of any kind or someone on the fringes.
You want higher education? She’s the hinge
to link you to your niche, sends off graduates
with advice to write their own stories,
not what others think. No wool gatherer,

she’s a knitter since a granddaughter joined
her world, believes a stitch in time
saves nine, or thousands, especially children
she’s championed for years, has published
forty ways to have healthy ones, reduce
their being at risk. “She’s kind of a missionary

for dark corners,” a friend said, “maybe
a Joan of Arc,” but her voices are the community’s
she gathers in dialogue, listens to, extends
her hand with a steady grip, a smile
to charm off your socks and follow
her path of light.

~Perie Longo, June 4, 2014

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