Featured Works: Week of June 29 (Remembering Lyn Lifshin)

By on Jun 28, 2020 in Issue Archives

Geese mates with two goslings

In late December, I learned the sad news of the passing away of Lin Lifshin, who had been extremely loyal to Wild Violet over the years, starting in 2005. The first time I received one of those fat envelopes in the mail, packed full of poems, I admit that I was a bit awed. I knew her name, having studied the Poet’s Market in order to send out my own work, and seeing her name mentioned by so many publishers that I wrote an (admittedly bad) poem about her, imagining that she must write the most amazing cover letters.

The truth is, I rarely read cover letters until after I’ve read the poems, and her cover letter was as simple as could be. Each time I received an envelope from her, usually crammed full to bursting and sometimes held together with tape, I would inevitably find three or four poems I wanted to publish. She was a never-ending fount of inspiration, and I count myself lucky to have read hundreds of her poems that way, even if Wild Violet only printed about 30. But there is so much more of her work to read, and I encourage you to visit her website, LynLifshin.com, to find her books.

At the time of her passing, I had accepted but not yet published four of her poems, for which I initially felt extremely guilty. Over the past few months, as so much in the world has been in tumult, I have thought again and again about her poetry and her life: How she gave so graciously of her work to small presses like Wild Violet, and how enduring themes of her poetry — appreciating nature, contemplating the meaning of relationships, finding strength in the midst of tragedy — can comfort and inspire people in these times. So in addition to publishing those last four poems, I’ve also put together an index of Lyn Lifshin’s work that appeared in Wild Violet. Bookmark it, for those days when you need her words the most.

 “The Mad Girl Wants Only What Can’t Stay”

“The Mad Girl Doesn’t Care Much About Much But the Blues”

“Reading Norman Corwin Dies, 101”

“The Mad Girl Could Be the Black Clothes in Her Closet”

Lyn Lifshin in Wild Violet


The photograph of a pair of geese with two goslings was taken by me this spring. I often think of Lyn Lifshin’s poetry about geese when I see “our” geese, who live along the creek behind our place.


Alyce Wilson is the editor of Wild Violet and in her copious spare time writes humor, non-fiction, fiction and poetry and infrequently keeps an online journal. Her first chapbook, Picturebook of the Martyrs; her e-book/pamphlet, Stay Out of the Bin! An Editor's Tips on Getting Published in Lit Mags ; her book of essays and columns, The Art of Life; her humorous nonfiction ebook, Dedicated Idiocy: How Monty Python Fandom Changed My Life, and her newest poetry collection, Owning the Ghosts, can all be ordered from her Web site, AlyceWilson.com. In late 2019, she published a volume of poetry by her third great-grandfather, Reading's Physician Poet: Poems by Dr. James Meredith Mathews, which also contains genealogical information about the Mathews family. She lives with her husband and son in the Philadelphia area and takes far too many photos of her handsome, creative son, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda.