julie-cover-1Her most critically acclaimed poem is Death In the Family (a poem comparing the death of a loved one to the death of a pet). Her poetry is simple: her portrayal of life is written to accentuate that what we think is very important may not be that special in the grand scheme of life. Julie Hill Alger was born in 1927 in Virginia, inside of a March’s day. She enjoyed spending the last years of her life living in “Emily Dickinson’s” town of Amherst, Massachusetts, where she died in 1995. Her poetry was written later in life, but she is considered one of the best 20th century contemporary American poets. But not only, because she dedicated her time to helping writers and furthering the causes of feminism and animal protection.

julie-1-1DEATH IN THE FAMILY – Poem by Julie Hill Alger

They call it stroke. Two we loved were stunned by that same blow of cudgel, or axe to the brow. Lost on the earth, they left our circle broken. One spent five months, falling from our grasp mute, her grace, wit, beauty erased. Her green eyes gazed at us, as if asking, as if aware, as if hers. One night she slipped away; machinery of mercy brought her back to die more slowly. At long last she escaped. Our collie dog fared better. A lesser creature, she had to spend only one day, drifting and reeling, her brown eyes beseeching. Then she was tenderly lifted, laid on a table, praised, petted and set free.

julie-2-1LESSON 1 – Poem by Julie Hill Alger

At least I’ve learned this much: life doesn’t have to be all poetry and roses. Life can be bus rides, gritty sidewalks, electric bills, dishwashing, chapped lips, dull stubby pencils with the erasers chewed off, cheap radios played too loud, the rank smell of stale coffee, yet still glow with the inner fire of an opal, still taste like honey.

julie-3-1TUESDAY’S CHILD – Poem by Julie Hill Alger

All the babies born that Tuesday, full of grace, went home by Thursday, except for one, my tiny girl who rushed toward light too soon. All the Tuesday mothers wheeled down the corridor in glory, their arms replete with warm baby. I carried a potted plant. I came back the next day and the next, a visitor with heavy breasts, to sit and rock the little pilgrim, nourish her, nourish me.


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