Growing Old in Poetry: Two Poets, Two Lives

Sydney Lea and Fleda Brown, present and past poets laureates of their states and both nationally recognized writers who’ve given their lives to their art, have conspired to write an unusual book of essays. They’ve picked a wide variety of topics and headed out as they respectively wished with each, covering a lot of territory, both artistic and memoiristic. Some of the pieces, like “Wild Animals,” are downright silly; some, like “Sex, “Music,” and “Food,” are provocative; some, like “Clothes,” “Sports,” and “Houses,” appear ordinary but are ultimately revealing. The penultimate pair of essays fall under the rubric, “Becoming a Poet,” but actually, the whole collection is about Syd and Fleda as people-poets. Poet-people. Poetry never completely goes off-stage in this wide-ranging and exciting conversation between the two. And finally, each weighs in on how it feels to be a poet in this age, at this time. Have the people-poets had to change?


“At times reading (Lea and Brown’s) serve-and-return feels like listening to a terrific radio program with your favorite hosts, at others sitting down for long conversation with your friends…Growing Old in Poetry is an important book and a conversation and a friendship generously recorded.” —Adrian Koesters, Brevity Magazine

About the Authors

Sydney Lea was Poet Laureate of Vermont (2011–15). His twelfth collection of poems, No Doubt the Nameless, was published in 2016 by Four Way Books. His fourth collection of lyrical essays, What’s the Story? Short Takes on a Life Grown Long, appeared in 2015 from Green Writers Press.  A former Pulitzer finalist and a winner of the peer-reviewed Poets’ Prize, Lea founded and for thirteen years edited New England Review. Before his retirement, he had taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Middlebury, Franklin College (Switzerland), Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest), and elsewhere. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and all the major U.S. literary journals. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Rockefeller Foundations. His thirteenth book of poems, Here, will appear in 2018. He and his successor, Vermont state poet Chard deNiord, have recently published Roads Taken, an anthology of contemporary Vermont poetry.

Fleda Brown’s The Woods Are On Fire: New & Selected Poems, was chosen by Ted Kooser for his University of Nebraska poetry series in 2017. She has nine previous collections of poems. Her work has twice appeared in The Best American Poetry and has won a Pushcart Prize, the Felix Pollak Prize, the Philip Levine Prize, and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writer’s Award, and has twice been a finalist for the National Poetry Series. Her memoir, Driving With Dvorak, was published in 2010 by the University of Nebraska Press. She is professor emerita at the University of Delaware, where she directed the Poets in the Schools program. She was poet laureate of Delaware from 2001-07. She now lives with her husband, Jerry Beasley, in Traverse City, Michigan, and is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.

POETRY/ESSAYS; 5.5 x 8.5
200 pages; Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9994995-5-9
$19.95; Ebook/Audio to come
Publication Date:  July 27, 2018
Distributor: Midpoint Trade Books
Rights Contact: Dede Cummings,