first read Margaret Szumowskis poetry years ago in Concert
at Chopins House, a gathering of creative works by Polish
Americans. What I admired in those poems and what continues to bring
me back to her poetry is her sure gift for bringing joy and sorrow
Margarets poems speak of some of the sad truths of life: brothers
dying, lovers parting, fathers and mothers saying goodbye to their
children for what they know is the last timebut always she
reminds us of the joy that was and the joy that may be again. She
does this not, of course, in any easy way, but rather in a way that
suggests how rich and mysterious our lives truly are.
I see this in her wonderful poem Bronislaw. The people
in the poem talk about their experiences during World War II. We
hear about the mud huts they built with their hands, the parents
who died in the prison camps, the children who were almost lost
in the snow, but these sorrows are part of lives so complex and
real that they can hold joy as well as agony.
This is why Margarets poems mean so much to me.
Guzlowski, Poetry Editor, TheScreamOnline
Szumowski grew up in Winterset, Iowa, the oldest of seven children.
She learned to tap dance and twirl a fire baton — an experience
that required wrapping the end of the baton in asbestos, dipping
it in kerosene, then lighting it and hoping for the best. Twirling
with fire and breathing the freezing air at football games led her
She graduated from the University of Iowa and shortly thereafter
took off for the Peace Corps and served in the Congo and Ethiopia.
As a hostage in Uganda, she had the distinction of having her photo
taken by Idi Amin — a sort of keepsake for him.
Szumowski received her MFA from the University of Massachusetts,
and at the end of her orals with Jim Tate, she commented on how
much she enjoyed the program. Tate's response: "Even more than
being a hostage of Idi Amin?" accompanied by that great laugh
of his. Szumowski is currently Associate Professor of English at
Springfield Technical Community College.
Her work has appeared in Calyx, Willow Springs, American Poetry
Review, Poetry East, The Agni Review, River Styx, as well as
in a chapbook, Ruby's Cafe. She is the winner of the 2002
Peace Corps Writers prize for poetry.
Her first book-length collection of poetry, I
Want This World, was published by Jeffrey Levine of Tupelo
(replace the [AT] with @)