Jeanne Lohmann, 1923-2016

I went searching this morning for a list of books by the Quaker poet Jeanne Lohmann to recommend to a friend, and learned that she recently died. I don’t know whether to be sad or to rejoice that the world got to share this woman’s light for such a long time.

Some years ago a poem of mine, “Such Good Work,” was a co-winner of the Jeanne Lohmann prize, and as a consequence I was invited to read my work for Olympia Poetry Network. I met Jeanne, who was then 80+, and I bought several of her books. OPN has invited me back twice as their feature — and both times it was a head-first plunge into the poetry mosh pit — such a wild and great group of people to read for and with. They very obviously revered Lohmann. And for good reason.

Here’s a poem reprinted in the Oly-Arts obituary; it is also reprinted on, where Lohmann’s voice reads aloud two other poems:

Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?

–Jeanne Lohmann