Christine Richardson, co-host of the Willow Glen Poetry Project’s monthly readings, introduced the featured poet for September, Marjorie Manwaring, with these words:
To introduce this evening’s featured reader, I will share a personal story. Dennis and I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Marjorie Manwaring in June 2011. We were fellow attendees of a poetry workshop given by our Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, Sally Ashton for the Disquiet Literary Program in Portugal. From our first introduction, I found Marjorie to be friendly, sincere, and unpretentious. I had already known what an original voice and varied perspectives she brings to her work as a poet. I had read her chapbook, Magic Words and was both charmed and touched by the characters she conjured up on the page: Flo, the Monkey Girl and her sister, Sal, the perplexed mother of a magical child, or the sculptor with a Pinto full of clouds.
In the morning workshops, I quickly discovered and appreciated what a skillful, keen, supportive critic/editor she is. I still have the copies of my poems she filled with astute observations and suggestions. Marjorie found half rhymes that I hadn’t realized I’d written, underlined images she thought compelling, and proposed structural shifts for more impact. This careful, generous scrutiny was not just given to my work, but to everyone’s submissions as well. Her credentials as a freelance writer and editor were quite evident. One only has to look at the DMQ, a beautiful online art and poetry journal she co-edits to see her fine work.
Marjorie’s own poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and online publications and is included in at least 5 anthologies. Her latest chapbook, What To Make of a Diminished Thing is now available. Her full-length book of poems is due out early 2013.
Discussing her impetus for writing, Marjorie has said it is often triggered by a sensation, an image, or a word she can’t ignore. She delights in sitting with such obsessions and guiding them into something not seen before. One of her professors at Bennington College where she earned an MFA suggested she try writing at least one poem in persona. Well, she has, perfecting the art of imagining and re-imagining many personas.
I picture Marjorie undertaking the creation of each new poem with the same curiosity as the speaker in her poem, “Leaving some shell of yourself” in which she continues from the title to say:
covered in sheets, you catch
your bus, pull the cord ten blocks
early, walk into the store that sells magic
when your boss asks where you’ve been
you say you wanted to learn
how a thing disappeared comes back
how a velvet-lined cape
feels against the skin