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Today’s poem is “Students” by Rebecca Goodale. She creates unique and limited edition books, many of them with sculptural components.  Since 2000 she has been creating Artist’s Books about Maine’s rare plants and animals. Her books are in many private and public collections, including the Maine Women Writers Collection at UNE, the Library of Congress and the Fogg Museum Fine Art Library at Harvard University. She has been teaching part-time for the University of Southern Maine for 4 decades.

She writes, “My process for writing is similar to making a collage- I often get it all down with pen and paper and then I often cut apart the stanzas (or lines) and rearrange them. Then I cut more and more away and then, like a visual book, I look for a certain rhythm and pace.”

by Rebecca Goodale

5 Cynthias, 2 Madelaines,
Aaron, Arion, Abram, and Arthur
all with beards and ball caps 

All the young kids from Maine,
the swagger of the Portland natives,
the timid ones with Bethyl-blue eye shadow 

A Korean exchange student and one from Pakistan,
immigrants from Cambodia, Iran,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo and Burundi 

The home-schoolers, the solitary old man,
the loquacious grandmothers, and the occasional
staff member or colleague 

Astrid with the big vocabulary,
Roland who drove me crazy,
Dan who convinced the whole class to join the sailing team 

Dani and Amy brought their kids to class
Suanne baked me a cake
Phil asked me to hop on his Harley 

Bill built my studio,
Chris made two additions,
Josh some furniture 

Juliette a bracelet, Neysa a ring,
Chris a necklace, Paula a pin, Carol a hat,
Jill gave me a stack of Plexiglass 

Nancy a pitcher of beer,
Emily flowers and honey, Maureen note cards,
Kate a Center for Book Arts 

Alice a novel, Catherine poems,
zines from Michael, mail art from Frank,
CDs from Colleen’s band 

Hiroko gave me Japanese paper,
Patty took me to the Golden Gate Bridge,
Sue invited me to Oxford 

Maria brought me rum from the Dominican,
Margaret gave me Greek olive oil,
and last year I took 16 to the French Riviera 

Stina showed me Iceland,
Bokka cooked me dinner,
Ragnur kept a bench tidy 

Bahman cuts my hair (no charge),
Greg my UPS man, Carol at the bank,
and Mary became my dermatologist 

Sarah, Samara, Allison, and Todd had children,
Caroline runs a gallery,
Luci teaches at UC Berkeley, Phil at Plymouth State 

Hundreds made me books with sentimental notes,
Mea made me a box, Lin gave me a scarf,
one semester Keith brought me fresh fish every week 

Stan, Peg, Mark, Sara, Judy became
High school art teachers then
they sent me their students 

Alex, Roy, and Paul had AIDS
Jane, Martha, Georgiana, Dorothy, and Diana
died—I miss them still 

Some travel far away and stay in touch,
others I see on the street
and Annie gave me a ride to the airport. 

Poem copyright © 2018 Rebecca Goodale. Reprinted from The Poetry of Work, The University of Southern Maine, 2018, by permission of Rebecca Goodale.