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Poetry by Louise Runyon

Cover of Book The Clearing
Louise Runyon began writing poetry in 1979, her first artistic endeavor after graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in English and Theatre Arts. The first woman to work at Atlantic Steel since World War II, she was inspired by that experience to create her first poems and choreography. Her writing soon moved into creating text for dance-theatre pieces, but poetry reemerged in 1999. Runyon produced her first book of poems, Reborn, in 2004; her second, LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love, in 2007; and her third, The Clearing, in 2011. Scroll down for information on How To Order and for Sample Poems.

About The Clearing

Photo of Louise Runyon
Based in archetype, mythos, and a panoply of forms, the poems in this book explore the concept of “clearing” in many contexts and on many levels – personal, geographical, spiritual, individual and communal. Included in this book is Petunias in the Window, a story for children and adults about a mother’s 42-year struggle to save her New York City apartment building from demolition. The story includes artwork by Suzanne Clements.

Praise for The Clearing

»From the first lines of The Clearing, Louise Runyon invites us into her life. “She had been told of a clearing;/ and told that although she had been/ in a dense forest for a long time,/ she had come now/ to a clearing space.” I immediately connected with the idea of seeking clarity in a complex world, and was ready for the journey. Runyon has written poems and stories that resonate with emotional connections to home, loss, hope, love, and leaving. Her words are the language of geometry, dreams, memory, and the land. Her language reinforces the idea of a clearing – it is precise and entirely comprehensible. Runyon has taken the concept of “clearing” and created a universe of meaning, meaning that is both personal and universal.
Alice Lovelace, Poet and Playwright

About LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love

Cover of Book Landscape / Fear & Love
LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love deals with both the natural landscape and the landscape of human relationship in the four geographical areas in which the poet’s family is scattered — California, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.
Photo of Louise Runyon

Praise for LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love

» LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love — what a treasure!
Daniel Berrigan, Poet, Activist and Priest
» These poems paint not only the skin, but the muscle and bones of the world and of a life. To read them is to feel through your feet the hidden rugged forces from which emerges the apparent, and to see the forces of movement in that which we mistake for eternal.
Thomas Bell, Program Director, Decatur Book Festival
» The poems in LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love take me places that I do not expect to go — they are surprising, and take me on journeys large and small. I feel compelled to read them over and over again as layers continue to reveal themselves to me. I gave this book to 20 of my friends and family for Christmas!
Cybill Shepherd, Actress, Author of “Cybill Disobedience”

Honor for LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love

Included in Valerie Jackson's Suggested Reading List for 2008. Jackson, Atlanta's former first lady, hosts the popular book show "Between the Lines" on WABE.

About Reborn

Cover of Book Reborn
About Reborn: Based in time and space and laced with movement, these poems reflect a dancer’s sensibility in the use of language. Beginning with poems inspired by the author’s seven years as a steelworker, moving through politically alive poems and those inspired by relationships and the natural world, this book includes 11 dance photos.

Praise for Reborn

» Louise Runyon proves that her body is not the only thing that is lithe and graceful. Her poetry ebbs and flows and takes the reader on an emotional journey from her days as a steel mill worker, a dancer, a mother and beyond. Her words capture a life in motion and a life that continues to evolve. Reborn is a splendid tango of words and thoughts, urging everyone to join the dance.
Collin Kelley, Author of “Better To Travel”

Praise for Runyon’s Poetry

» There is absolutely no pretense about [Runyon’s] art… She reads aloud with humor, wit and grace as she moves about a self-styled stage freely, confidently… Runyon is an artistic force to be reckoned with, a woman of substance.
» As fluid as any dance movement, Reborn is a body of free-verse prose poems that is confidently recommended to any and all poetry enthusiasts… Also very highly recommended and memorable reading is Louise Morgan Runyon's latest volume of published poetry, LANDSCAPE: Fear & Love.
» Runyon reads as if words were dance movements flowing from her open heart.
Scroll down for sample poems from both books.

Ordering Information

The Clearing: $15
LANDSCAPE/Fear & Love: $13
Reborn: $10
Add $4 Shipping and Handling per book; mail check to:
Louise Runyon
P.O. Box 33601
Decatur, GA 30033-0601
Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Great gifts!

Sample Poem from The Clearing

dance church

what I know about my body
is the same thing I know
about my soul
— Bluebell
and so she must step up to the altar
of the internal music —
she must go, still, to dance church —
to the altar of her son and his friends,
the altar of the music that speaks aloud
to the quiet place inside her,
the place that is silent and stands still
and although going to this church
has brought her much pain in the past,
and even though she hasn’t felt
she created something worthy,
though many may not have liked it or understood,
there is still a quiet place inside
that she must visit
and there have been times — many times —
and there will be times — how many times —
when what happens between herself and others
with whom she dances, herself especially,
but also that great and nameless audience which is out there,
that is a magic, a beating heart,
a flowing breath, a stopped moment
that is so important to all of us to know
and never to forget
and so, no matter the path,
however different or circuitous the route this time,
she must go, still, to dance church
and she must bring her son
and her son must bring her
and they must bring each other,
they must meet there
with all the other many
beating hearts

Sample Poem from LANDSCAPE / Fear & Love

The Geology of New York

The geology of New York
I never noticed as a child, except in my bones,
except I knew I didn't like to climb as my friends did,
across the street from our apartment building,
the big gray rocks of Fort Washington
where the Battle of Harlem Heights was fought
in the revolutionary war
I noticed the cobblestones, of course, of 122nd Street,
those big gray blocks of native rock, long since paved,
hardly ever saw the Hudson, just blocks away,
never knew the Hudson River Valley.
Never climbed on the gray crags of the Palisades
across the Hudson, just heard of them,
thought of them only as
Palisades Amusement Park
The grand architecture of Manhattan,
reflecting the sheer fact of available building material,
the geology of New York,
the big gray rocks everywhere
in all the parks
But now, though still I hardly know it, except in my bones,
the gneiss and the schist of the rocks in the parks
the foundations of the great buildings
the heavy curbstones, the Palisades and rock walls
the great breadth of the Hudson
impress themselves upon me
I know so little of it, but get a sense, a glimmer,
of the beauty and the grandeur of the natural world of it,
so covered over by Times Square lights,
smoke-ring-blowing billboards, cars
jutting out of buildings,
while underneath —
so far from the land I really know
(its beauty always pointed out) —
so far from the blue mountains of North Carolina —
those gentle mountains of my ancestral home,
sleeping giants covered with green army blankets,
great gentle beasts you could nestle down in,
or whom you could straddle and ride —
so far from those blue mountains,
underneath "New York"
is a wild and rugged island, a majestic river valley
made from solid bedrock, gray gigantic rock,
the river cutting through it
in its rush to the sea

Sample Poem from Reborn

The Wistfulness of Fall

The Joe-Pye weed
is a-comin’ up
along with the goldenrod,
neither yet their huge,
unruly selves,
but both still just yet small
and sedate
The Joe-Pye weed,
the goldenrod,
the blood-red lobelia, too,
a brilliant scarlet plume,
just startin’ out, all three:
and surely
the reddest red
you ever did see
It’ll be fall soon,
boy’ll be gone.
Somethin’s happened to the pond,
it’s ‘bout gone,
though we’ve had
Golden-green grass covers half,
another quarter is mud,
the last quarter
is muddy water
But birds abound in it,
a half-grown, snowy,
great white egret takes off,
spreads its elegant white wings
in flight,
flies back, and flies
way up into a high tree,
its elegant
thin long white neck
A half-grown, great blue
heron takes off as well,
ungainly, kinda,
like it don’t quite know yet
how to fly
I saw it as a baby, earlier
this summer
The now-small pond
is full yet still,
with a solid dozen of teal male ducks
and brown females,
too far away for telling,
but half-grown ducklings,
all splashing about, paddling and chirping,
in the mud
Storm’ll be comin’ on soon
There’s white clouds on white,
gray clouds on gray,
there’s white ones on gray ones,
and gray ones on white
There’s blue, though, yet and still —
blue, on the other side of the pond,
blue as blue —
and above the golden-green grasses,
with the whites and the grays on the other side,
and the teals and the mallards,
it looks like a landscape portrait paintin’,
just as glorious as you could see
The mimosa
is no longer pink,
it’s long, ridged green pods
are just a-hangin’
I best be gettin’ on now,
that almost-grown
boy’s goin’ off on a weekend trip,
‘fore he goes off in the fall
I want to catch him,
tell him bye


The Clearing Front Cover Photo: Lucas Barth
The Clearing Artwork: Suzanne Clements
The Clearing Cover Design: Yvonne Bradford
LANDSCAPE Cover Painting: John T. Morgan
LANDSCAPE Cover Design: Lucas Barth
Reborn Cover Photo: Neil Dent
The Clearing Front Cover Photo: Lucas Barth
The Clearing Artwork: Suzanne Clements
The Clearing Cover Design: Yvonne Bradford
LANDSCAPE Cover Painting: John T. Morgan
LANDSCAPE Cover Design: Lucas Barth
Reborn Photo: Neil Dent
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Poetry Reading

Louise Runyon, Robert Brown, Thrower Starr
Monday, December 4
7:15 p.m.
Decatur Public Library
215 Sycamore Street, Decatur, GA 30030