Monday, January 28, 2008

Poem: "The Crow-Mother Tells All" from "The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems" by Jay Parini (2005)

I received an email today from Peter Metrinko, a regular contributor to our blog, about a poem written by a Pittson native that was published in the Washington Post -- the poem featured a notable reference to Scranton in the second line:

"I came across a reference to Scranton in the Washington Post today, which published a poem by noted writer Jay Parini, born in Pittston and raised in Scranton. (Parini even has a Wikipedia page.)

The poem is titled "The Crow-Mother Tells All" and was originally published in Parini's 1998 collection "House of Days." It begin:

"The empty oil drums rattled in the yard
that day in Scranton, and the ham-red hills
would shudder in the distance, thunder-chilled. "

Jay Parini was born in 1948 in Pittston, Pennsylvania and raised in Scranton. After graduating from LaFayette College in 1970 and earing his doctorate from University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1975, Parini taught at both Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Middlebury College in Vermont; he has been a professor at Middlebury since 1982.

During that time, he began his professional career as a published and critically acclaimed poet. In addition to four volumes of poetry, Parini has also published six novels, two books of literary criticism, and biographies of John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, and Robert Frost. In 1976, he also co-founded the journal New England Review. In addtion, Parini was appointed literary executive for legendary author Gore Vidal.

"The Crow-Mother Tells All" is in two volumes of poetry that can be borrowed from the Lackawanna County Library System. To place a hold on 1998's Best of Days, click here; to place a hold on 2005's The Art of Subtraction, click here.

To read "The Crow-Mother Tells All" in the Washington Post article published January 27, 2008, click here.

Much thanks again to Peter Metrinko for this great Scranton reference.

UPDATED JUNE 3, 2008 Peter emailed me today with an update on this entry. According to an article on, Jay Parini (a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont) has been given a unique assignment. When more than two dozen young adults vandelized Robert Frost's former home, their sentence was to take a two-day course on the poems of Robert Frost--which Panini is teaching. To read the full article, click here.

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