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poet Elizabeth Goodrich Chamberlain

Elizabeth Goodrich Chamberlain has been writing poetry most of her life. “Well, not when I was two or three, but when I was in grade school,” she’s quick to clarify. Her poems made their way into The Katharine Branson School’s literary magazine, but by the time she was at Vassar, her focus was more on her major in Italian than poetry.

“I wasn’t encouraged to write poetry,” she said. “Plus, I wanted to go Italy and stay for a time. But the war [WW II] interfered with those plans.

While raising a family, the native Californian who was born in 1916, would pen a couple of poems a year. “It was hard to write with four children. I had two sets, 10 years apart.”

Later when she settled on the mid-Peninsula, she met other people who were writing. They started meeting in each others’ homes to share their work, and Elizabeth’s volume of poetry grew, filling desk drawers.

With the prompting of family and a fellow parishioner at St. Bede’s Church in Menlo Park, the idea of publishing her poems took form. “We had long sessions with Mother,” said her son Gordon. “She would read a poem, then set it aside, and then sort into piles of yes, no and maybe.”

The result is The Woman at the Ford, a volume of her poetry that’s just been published. According to Elizabeth, the book’s title is also the title of a series of poems in which she imagines herself in various way. “It’s a symbol to me – where you are in life.”

The public will get to hear 12 of Elizabeth’s poems at a poetry reading scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 16, at 4:00 pm at St. Bede’s located on Sand Hill Rd., which will also feature occasional musical interludes. (One selection is at the end of this post.)

“I used my maiden name on the book,” she said. “I realized that I’d been living here a long time and maybe someone I went to high school with would see the name and remember me.”

About having her poems published in a book, she said, “It’s a very different experience than just having them in a drawer some place. I’m pleased with the nice reception it’s getting.”

THE TRUEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL

The truest, most wonderful Christmas of all
was not when the cousins came
and we all sat down to hawthorn on the table,
red candles in silver shafts, white napery and turkey,
but the year of the big storm
when we nailed down the doors
and the gale burst through,
sweeping to the floor the spangled tree,
filling the captive house from rug to roof
with the clean fragrance of the ocean wind.

–Elizabeth Goodrich Chamberlain

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InMenlo founder Chris Gulker: Mar. 10, 1951 – Oct. 27, 2010

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InMenlo founder Chris Gulker died yesterday evening at his home in Menlo Park of brain cancer. He was 59. A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held on Friday, Nov. 12 at 2:00 pm at Trinity Church in Menlo Park. Chris was both high tech geek and artist. The tributes to him […]

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Sean Falconer: Navigating the ultra-complex and the ultra-high

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Sean Falconer’s instructions for meeting him on the Stanford campus were a minor marvel. Navigating Stanford’s city-sized campus sprawl is no mean feat, even for those with experience, but Sean’s email was concise – a 20-odd word description making it very clear where he’d be at the appointed hour. He arrived exactly on time. Which […]

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Marc Silber: Advancing photography from his Menlo studio

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Marc Silber has been selling his photographs since he was an eighth grader at Peninsula School, where he both learned photography and was introduced to Ansel Adams, an experience he still cherishes decades later. Setting out with a Leica he bought from a teacher for $200, Marc went on to the San Francisco Art Institute […]

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Sarah Granger – Skater, writer, speaker, entreprenuer, mom

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Full Moon over Menlo

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Calling All Menlo Park Bloggers!

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