Saturday, August 25, 2007

Grace Paley dies at 84

Grace Paley joined Sarah Lawrence College in 1966, and from that beginning had been closely associated with its creative writing program. By the time I enrolled in the graduate course in 2003, she had not been teaching there for some time, but still could be seen at college events and readings.

I read her short story "Wants" not long ago, and was impressed by the economy of her prose, especially her adroit use of a short verbal exchange to convey an entire marriage and its breakdown. The NYT obituary mentions her first ambition was to be a poet, and she studied with Auden for a while at The New School. I googled and found this:

Here
Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

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