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Hildegarde Flanner

phil-mccardleHildegarde Flanner (June 3, 1899 – May 27, 1987) was an American poet, essayist, playwright and conservationist. She attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia before moving to California in 1919 to attend the University of California, Berkeley. At the university, she studied poetry with Witter Bynner and was on the literary staff of The Occident. Flanner was honored with the Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize in 1920 for her poem Young Girl.

Along with her mother, Flanner lost her home and most of her possessions in the Berkeley Fire of 1923, prompting them to move to southern California. On June 29, 1926, Flanner married architect and artist Frederick Monhoff and lived in Altadena with their child, John, born in 1941.

Hildegarde continued to write under her maiden name, chronicling events in her life as well as the changing landscape of California in the twentieth century. Flanner’s contributions were published in The Nation, The New Republic and Poetry. She was named the New Directions Poet of the Month in 1942. One of their neighbors in Altadena was Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen and in 1977 Flanner’s elegy on Nielsen was included in The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen.

Flanner and Monhoff spent their later years on their property in Calistoga, Napa Valley, California. Flanner was an avid gardener, with particular interests in ornamental grasses and bamboo. It was thought that Flanner had the largest collection of bamboo varieties in California. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Janet Lewis

janet-loxley-lewisJanet Loxley Lewis (August 17, 1899 – November 30 or December 1, 1998) was an American novelist and poet. Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she was a member of a literary circle that included Glenway Wescott, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, and her future husband Yvor Winters. She was an active member of the University of Chicago Poetry Club. She taught at both Stanford University in California, and the University of California at Berkeley.

She wrote The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941) which is the tale of one man’s deception and another’s cowardice. Her first novel was The Invasion: A Narrative of Events Concerning the Johnston Family of St. Mary’s (1932). Other prose works include The Trial of Soren Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), and the volume of short fiction, Good-bye, Son, and Other Stories (1946).

Lewis was also a poet, and concentrated on imagery, rhythms, and lyricism to achieve her goal. Among her works are The Indians in the Woods (1922), and the later collections Poems, 1924–1944 (1950), and Poems Old and New, 1918–1978 (1981). She also collaborated with Alva Henderson, a composer for whom she wrote three libretti and several song texts.

She married the American poet and critic Yvor Winters in 1926. Together they founded Gyroscope, a literary magazine that lasted from 1929 until 1931. Lewis was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992. She died at her home in Los Altos, California, in 1998, at the age of 99. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

I’m still going through the poetry anthologies I picked up at the library. This week I discovered two women whose works remind me so much of S. Thomas Summers’ poetry from Writing with Some Ink and a Hammer that I have to dedicate this post to him..:D  S.T. is what he calls an Imagist, as are these two poetesses. Imagism was a movement in early 20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery and clear, sharp language. Imagism has been described as the most influential movement in English poetry since the activity of the Pre-Raphaelites. So I just have to say to Scott, you’re in darn fine company! (And no… I have absolutely NO idea what Pre-Raphaelites are! I’m still learnin’.)


by Hildegarde Flanner

I saw a young deer standing
Among the languid ferns.
Suddenly he ran–
And his going was absolute,
Like the shattering of icicles
In the wind.

(I think the reader she was writing about in this poem was actually Scott!)

The Reader
by Janet Lewis

Sun creeps under the eaves,
And shines on the bare floor
While he forgets the earth.

Cool ashes on the hearth,
And all so still save for
The soft turning of leaves.

A creature fresh from birth
Clings to the screen door,
Heaving damp heavy wings.



Picture Sources:
Hildegarde Flanner — Los Angeles Literature – WordPress.com
Janet Lewis — Poetry Foundation