Friday, June 01, 2007

Sarah Hannah

To our writing community:

It is with the deepest and most unremitting sorrow I have to tell you that Sarah Hannah, one of our own, extravagantly talented, brilliant, witty, buoyant, and beautiful, has taken her own life.

Tupelo Press will hold a memorial for Sarah at Poet’s House in September when her new book, Inflorescence, comes out. I will invite the entire writing community to come and read from her book, and to read tributes or poems in homage. Meanwhile, flowers and expressions of sympathy may be sent to her family at the following address: Nathan and Harriet Goldstein, 17 Metropolitan Avenue, Ashland, MA 01721.

Sarah received her doctorate as well as her MFA in Poetry from Columbia University, and was the author of two collections of poems, Longing Distance (Tupelo Press 2004) and Inflorescence (forthcoming from Tupelo Press in Fall 2007). She was a faculty member in the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College, where she taught graduate and undergraduate poetry workshops and literature courses. She was a terrific teacher, adored by her students, her colleagues, and her friends. She lived her life fiercely and fervently, making many of the most memorable and poignant poems I’ve had the great fortune to read. To know Sarah was a great gift, to lose her is unspeakably sad. She had the sort of soul that made the world a better place at every step.

Jeffrey Levine
Tupelo Press

Please, Mr. Postman,

Re: that lightly padded envelope you’ve carried
Hip-side for some time, that scripted missive you’ve

Delayed and delayed relaying to the next pick-up
Box, that scripted something you can’t quite put

Your finger on (except that you put your hands
All over it)—some days you take the long route

Around the leaf-strewn street, you stop under
Some thick hemlocks, half hidden, you wrest it

From your blue canvas bag and behold it,
Scan the somewhat illegible script: Broken Tree

Road, the destination, but of course that is not
Your role, to hand deliver; you’re only to pass

It along to the next point of dispatch. Still, for
Some unaccountable reason, you are unable

To fulfill this sworn duty. You know it’s only
Paper, but what words might be written there?

You run your warm palm across my front,
You turn me over in your hands.

I seem to have taken on some human characteristic.
I seem to be crinkling some obscure utterance.

I was intended—
I was posted in good faith—

No more. Please, Mr. Postman, pry.

Please, Mr. Postman, bring me home.

—Sarah Hannah


Oliver de la Paz said...

So very sad and strange. Kundiman shared a table with Barrow Street this past AWP, and Sarah was at the table with me. We giggled about this and that, and she was excited about her new book. How sad and strange.

LKD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LKD said...

I didn't know her.

I didn't know her poetry. At least, I didn't think I knew her poetry.

But I recall reading this poem. I remember how, afterwards, I felt like those words were inside me.

How that poem was never going to let go.

You can read about her life here.

Anonymous said...

I was one of her students in 2005, and corresponded with her for months afterward, through some of my troubles and a few of hers. I considered her a friend, a mentor, a teacher, and an artist, and I'm shocked and devastated to that hear she's gone. Boston lost a wonder last week.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this posting and this poem. I did not know Sarah, but her poetry is absolutely beautiful. I haven't read something that has touched me as deeply as her poetry does in a long time.