The Secret Poetry Room
As one of a breed of arty working-class girls from a family with both American and Canadian roots, I was a young woman who made it to a State University and felt amazed to have gotten there. But I still wished I’d ended up in a place that had something other than an army of orange plastic chairs to sit in. (I know, if nobody else in your family ever went to university, then you should just shut up and feel lucky…) But as a reader I’d been living in my mind, inspired by a world of books and images. Tapestry-upholstered couches! Oak bookcases carved with mini-gargoyles!
Harpur College, later the State University of New York at Binghamton, now Binghamton University had none of these. At eighteen, I was just one year younger than the cement and brick place that would educate me.
In the Library, a door of a small room opened to an ancient navy-blue davenport sofa. Someone had plunked that used, loved couch next to a bookcase stocked with poems. I slipped in.
Even having written fourteen books, I still feel the mental draw of that room, though it’s long gone.
But what if I restored it? What if, in my Will, I left the pittance I’ve accumulated to the Binghamton University Library to create a Secret Poetry Room? A tiny room, inside the stacks, with a comfortable chair, a little desk, a bookshelf… a place where a first-generation, working-class, brand-new-to-the-university-ex