The Cools – News from Pandemic Spring

The last time the Cool Women performed in public was March 7 at the New Brunswick Public Library. We miss our audiences and hope to connect with all of you soon, when it is safe to have public readings again. We have thought of performing a Zoom reading and will let you know when and if that might take place. In the meantime we thought we’d let you know what busy lives the Cool Women have been leading, even under lockdown, in this most unusual spring. So here is the news from us, in alphabetical order, beginning with Eloise!

Eloise Bruce. As a past winner (2018) of a Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Distinguished Service, Eloise was asked to read this spring as part of the Past & Present Winner Performance Series. Her reading on May 22, 2020 was zoomed on Facebook and can be heard here.  She and her husband David Keller have a brand new book out from Ragged Sky Press, Scud Clouds, 2020. Order ($15) from: Ragged Sky Press, 270 Griggs Dr., Princeton, NJ 08540. About it Susan Allen Toth wrote:

   Scud Clouds is wonderful. With clarity, honesty, and marvelously telling detail, these two gifted poets evoke the depths and complexities of their continuing life together after David is diagnosed with an incurable brain disease. While confronting darkness and loss, these side-by-side poems are also full of love, warmth and laughter. 

Juditha Dowd. Juditha’s new book debuted this spring, Audubon’s Sparrow, by Rose Metal Press. From the press material:

   What does it mean to sacrifice for someone else’s art? Audubon’s Sparrow answers this question by way of a verse biography of Lucy Bakewell, the intrepid and largely unsung wife of the artist and naturalist John James Audubon.

Ordering information ($15.95) at Rose Metal Press. Juditha participated in a fascinating roundtable discussion sponsored by Entropy Magazine about poetic biography this spring which can be heard here. Penelope Scambly Schott also was part of this discussion, so two Cools available here! Juditha was interviewed by poet Ruth Foley for the Brooklyn Rail May 2020 issue and like, count ‘em, four other Cools this spring she had a poem  published in the online magazine New Verse News on May 8 called “Quarantine Aubade.” See

Lois Marie Harrod has a new chapbook, Woman, published by Blue Lyra Press. As Catherine Doty says:

   Rooted in the moss and mushroom of the female body, the poems in Lois Marie Harrod’s chapbook Woman refreshingly skirt the merely celebratory. Harrod’s natural music, sharp observations and sly wit bring a quirky authenticity to her tales of women often silenced, missing parts, or completely disassembled.

Ordering information ($12.00) can be found here. Like Juditha, Lois had a poem, “DIY Facemasks,” published online at New Verse News on May 10. Other poems published online this spring were “Theft” and “How We Are” at Hamlin Lit Link, five poems in a series Something About the Environment published by The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, and most recently a poem “When I Step From My Body” published by Off the Coast. She also gave a virtual reading on May 1 in an event sponsored by Peter Murphy and Stockton University which can be heard here. See

Betty Bonham Lies. This spring Betty continued teaching her wildly popular memoir class, Writing Your Life, for the Princeton Senior Resource Center. Her book The Cliff’s Edge by Kelsay Books ($17.00) appeared in 2017 and can be ordered from Amazon. As David Keller wrote:

   In these poems objects and their connections to the past become the loves of our days, how one thing edges into other things, into remembrance and desire and the dazzle of our lives. These poems are full of love for the things of this world. What luck.

Judy Rowe Michaels continued the New Verse News Cool Women “series” by appearing there on June 1 with “First Kiss.” Judy says she has been asked to speak on a couple of Zoom panels on ovarian cancer, bringing the “Survivors Teaching Students” sessions she has been doing live at medical schools  in NYC and Newark to these schools’ current distant learning formats. 

Sharon Olson’s new book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in early 2019. About this book Baron Wormser said, “The loose ends of lives and generations are expertly bundled in these alert, meditative poems.” Order ($19.00) from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any independent bookstore, information at Cherry Grove. Sharon also had a poem appear in New Verse News on May 25 , hers titled “Ode to My Shopper.” Sharon gave a 10-minute reading online for the Scriven Arts Colony in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, was interviewed by the Guilford Poets Guild of Guilford, Connecticut, and gave a reading via Zoom for the Poetry Center San José on June 9. See

Penelope Scambly Schott also has a new book, On Dufur Hill, published by Turning Point ($20). The publisher copy tells us:

   This whole book is one long love poem to Dufur, Oregon, a small town (population 623) in north-central Oregon, and it’s also a love poem to small town American life. The landscape includes a “field of retired combines / resting like ancient beasts,” a “bathtub asleep on its four clawed feet,” the sky a “clear Pyrex bowl.”

Order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any independent bookstore. See Turning Point. Penelope also had a poem in New Verse News, hers appeared May 29, “Dufur High School Graduation.” See

Maxine Susman continues to teach for OLLI-RU, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rutgers. During July she’ll offer an online poetry workshop,”Writing Through the Times We’re Living Through.” Her poem “Home Phone” won an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards Honorable Mention and will be in Paterson Literary Review #49. Her latest book My Mother’s Medicine was published by  Grayson Books in summer 2019 ($15.95) and is available on Amazon. Maria Gillan writes:

   Maxine Susman writes the compelling story not just of her own mother, but of women who came from immigrant backgrounds to overcome obstacles and push against the boundaries of traditional women’s roles. In moving poems filled with personal feeling and colored by authentic historical detail, Susman gives us a young Jewish girl from Brooklyn during the Great Depression, who decides to become a doctor.

Gretna Wilkinson, winner of numerous teaching awards, was recently named Poet Laureate of T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center in Red Bank, NJ., which is dedicated to preserving and promoting Fortune’s legacy of education, civil rights advocacy, and community involvement. Founder of the online magazine,, Gretna has been publishing a steady stream of strong and compelling works by myriad poets, prose writers, and visual artists. A poem of hers about the murder of George Floyd appeared on June 12. Titled “1973 TO 2020: GEORGE FLOYD(S)” , it imagines the mother of George Floyd lamenting the fate of her son, and quotes what she calls the Dead Black Children Anonymous motto:

if mothers don’t name our babies, we stand
a better chance of not losing our minds,
becoming arsonists, or mass murderers,
or dying before our time


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