Saturday, October 8, 2016

DC Poetry Community Mourns the Loss of Nan Fry

written by Jean Nordhaus

Nan Fry, a much-loved Washington area poet and teacher, died suddenly on Friday evening, September 23rd. A longtime member of the academic faculty at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, Nan also taught poetry workshops for many years at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to short stories appearing in various venues, Nan, who grew up in Connecticut and earned a PhD in Medieval Studies at Yale, published a collection of poetry, Relearning the Dark with Washington Writers Publishing House in 1981 and, in 1988 with Sibyl-Child Press, a delightful chapbook of riddle poems, Say What I Am Called: Selected Riddles from the Exeter Book,  translated from Anglo-Saxon. Her poem “Riddle” (see below) appeared as a transit system poster in Baltimore, Washington, and Ft. Collins as part of the Poetry Society of America’s “Poetry in Motion” program. A memorial for her will be planned for later in the year.

To read more about Nan’s career, publications, and teaching philosophy, please click on the links below:

by Nan Fry


you hang from your tree
like a teardrop grown solid,
like snow with a freckled skin.
When the handless maiden
came to you in moonlight, hungry,
she stretched up and took you
into her mouth.

Her father had sold her
to the devil and lopped off her hands,
but you bent to her, Pear,
and offered yourself, breast
and milk both, the earth
grown pendulous and sweet.

by Nan Fry

After being so long without windows,
you find that everything opens.

The leaf opens to water,
making itself a room.

When a bird comes,
it carries the sun in its beak.

Over and over, sun is flowing
into the leaf, into the hills

of water. Below, roots tear
water from rock, hurl it upward.

Without wondering if it is right
the worm makes a path

through the leaf, the watery lace.
Under his silent teeth you hear the sea

tolling, and you know
it is not a bell but a doorway. 

by Nan Fry

We are animal cries,
groans the body makes,
the shrill keening of grief,
pain and rage howled out,
grunts of satisfaction,
someone crooning to her young.
We're animal cries becoming
human, five daughters
of your mother tongue.

[Answer: Vowels]