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In the Poet's Spotlight for December 2006:  Elizabeth Hadaway

Elizabeth Hadaway has strong Virginia connections, tracing back to the 1600s.  She was born in Harrisonburg as Elizabeth Leigh Palmer and grew up in the mountains of southwest Virginia in Wytheville.  She received her first encouragement as a writer at the acclaimed University of Virginia’s Young Writers Workshop.  Later she earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Virginia.  Ms. Hadaway also holds a master’s degree in theological studies (M.T.S.) from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.  She has been an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University, an historical interpreter at Agecroft Hall in Richmond, a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a Randall Jarrell Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she received her M.F.A.  Ms. Hadaway has received scholarships to the Breadloaf and Sewanee writer’s conferences, and her poems have appeared widely in such journals as Anglican Theological Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Bellingham Review, The Blue Penny Quarterly, New England Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, and others.  Her poetry has also been featured on Poetry Daily.  Ms. Hadaway’s book, Fire Baton, recently released by The University of Arkansas Press, introduces readers to her superb command of poetic forms, to her wit, and to her vast reach of subject matter.  This gifted writer currently lives in Kingsville, Maryland.

All Short-a Appalachia



You want to ratchet this world’s fury down?

Then learn to say it right.  Not Appa-lay-

cha, Appa-latch-a.  This means you,

you NPR announcers earnestly

enunciating all the accent marks

in Spanish or Sanskrit, you editors

who grant the standard and nonstandard tags

in dictionaries.

                                            No, you didn’t trash

                  our water, gash and snatch the mountaintops,

                  eradicate the chestnut trees, or plan

                  the factory stacks personally.  You

                  just trample out our vowels.

                                                               Hear the whole

                  diaspora slam down their beer cans, stab

                  their classes’ final drafts, and smash the half-

                  carved radishes before they’ve had a chance

                  to bloom as radish roses?

                                                                We do that

                  as often as the quack newscasters drag

                  their “Appa-lay-cha” out.

                                                          It’s not like quaint

                  or paid.  

                             It’s short a: acid, ash, scab, smack,

                      catastrophe, Cassandra, slag, last, wrath.


“All Short-a Appalachia” appeared first in the journal Diagram

 and is reprinted in Fire Baton.

       An Essay in Criticism

T. Eliot and J. Laforgue
awoke one midnight in the morgue
on their adjoining slabs. Jules brushed
his evening jacket, stuck a crushed
carnation through his buttonhole
to honor his immortal soul,
then buffed the polish of a shoe
and took the stairs up, two by two,
till he was out and on the street.

Tom curled up tightly in his sheet.

Jules busked until he made enough
to buy a never-ending cup
of coffee at the Horn of Plenty Grill,
that worn utopia. No chill
could reach the heart-carved table he
shared till dawn with Leah Lee
and cream and sugar on the side.

Tom coiled in like a trombone slide.

The sun reared up, but Jules refused
to crumble like a vampire who's
shriveled at the touch of light.

Tom clamped his hands and prayed for night.


© copyright Elizabeth Hadaway, All rights reserved.

The Hundredth Summer of the Chestnut Blight



                 I lug the laundry in and wash my hands

                 of zinc oxide and DEET.  Our crows drop dead,

                 the West Nile washing them out of the sky.

                 Snakeheads cross the Potomac, crawl on land

                 amphibiously southward. 

                                                               In July

                 1904 the chestnut blight broke out

                 of the Bronx Zoo.  Like some new worm, it spread

                 beneath the bark; it rained across the high

                 ridge cabins (chestnut shingles, chestnut spouts);

                 it starved the shoats, and bears, and gatherers

                 who, forced into the cities they had fed,

                 took sick like trees. 

                                                     And so my grandmother’s

                 clothesline was hung in coal soot, her whites gray,

                 her rooster like a rusty hinge all day.




© copyright Elizabeth Hadaway, All rights reserved.

   Beginning with a Line by John Berryman


                                           Dream Song 186


Them lady poets must not marry, Hal?

I’ll grant we must not marry you,

not that you give us any reason to,

making yourself an (Old-Fashioned?) pain

(Wallbanger? Sidecar?) and dead.


But drop that trowel and mortarboard you’d use

to shut us up in anchoresses’ cells

and I’ll put down the cocktail tray

of Damocles I’m holding near your head


and sit my hips beside you to explain

not only do I want a husband whose

peculiarities are not yours, pal,


I want to be like you enough to make

some kind of music out of my mistakes.


© copyright Elizabeth Hadaway, All rights reserved.


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