CANCELED Laura Read | Dresses from the Old Country
Laura Read’s second poetry collection, Dresses from the Old Country, jumps back and forth in time to illuminate the identities of a life in progress: lost child, lonely adolescent, teacher, daughter, friend, wife, mother—a woman continuously shaped and reshaped by memory and experience. With an eye on gender issues, Read looks back at her childhood in the ’70s and ’80s as she observes how popular culture is shaping her sons’ lives today.
The scar on my arm is thin like the skin
of a fruit close to splitting.
It marks my birth as before ’72,
before the end of smallpox but after polio,
after the wheelchairs and the iron lungs,
the radios crackling with war.
If you were born then, you remember
taking your Halloween candy
to the fire station to have it checked
for razor blades. Maybe there was one
black girl in your class like Martha Washington
who brought upside-down clown cones
for her birthday and then moved away.
You watched the Challenger blow up
on the news again and again.
I was there in my boots and eyeliner,
waiting by the wall until a boy
asked me to dance.
Praise for Dresses from the Old Country
"No one can deliver a deadly and disarmingly frank line like Laura Read, whose nostalgia and memory for high school jobs at Taco Time and green eyeliner and childhood (her own and her sons’) and learning (her own and her students’) is as barbed as it is brilliant. This is one of the most beautiful and wickedly true collections I’ve read in ages, and it reminded me of how rare it is to find someone who writes ‘a true sentence, the one you finally say.’" —Alexandra Teague
Laura Read was born in New York City and has lived most of her life in Spokane, WA. She is the author of Dresses from the Old Country (BOA Editions, 2018), Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry), and the chapbook The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You (winner of the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, 2011). A recipient of a Washington State Artists Trust Grant, a Florida Review Prize for Poetry, and the Crab Creek Review Prize for Poetry, Laura presents regularly at literary festivals and conferences throughout the Northwest, including GetLit!, Write on the Sound, Litfuse, and the Port Townsend Writers Conference. Laura served as Spokane’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, and she currently teaches at Spokane Falls Community College. For more information about Laura Read, visit laurareadpoet.com.
In Laura Read's second poetry collection, the former poet laureate of Spokane, WA, weaves past and present together to create a portrait of a life in progress.