like it. I think that poem might have made me a
My Best Dream
poet.” First Norm (with help from Cunningham and Sexton) made Emily into a poet, and then he made
goes like this: two fields cut by a thin line of trees.
her into a teacher as well. And these are a large part of who Emily is today—and very successfully so. From Holderness she went on to Middlebury, where
In the dream I’m at the line when the storm comes in.
she earned a B.A. in English literature. Since then she has also earned an M.A. in European literature from the University of Sussex and an M.F.A. in
I dig a ditch in the dark in the snow in the dream
poetry from the California College of Arts and Crafts. She has taught at CCAC and also the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Currently she
and get in, and then the animals arrive—
lives in New York City and teaches at the City University of New York, where she is a Ph.D. candidate in literature.
long noses, soft bodies, raccoons maybe, deer,
And she has become a poet in full, with journal credits that include the Marlboro Review, the Big Ugly Review, the Indiana Review, Diner, Chelsea,
bears, all the creatures with night eyes
the Alaska Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, the Crab Orchard Review, the Antioch Review, AGNI, and Eleven Eleven; fellowships from the Macdowell
climb into my ditch with deliberation, settle
Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, Rotary International, and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. And this isn’t to mention the 25 nonfiction books she
their tails, snouts, paws, speckled haunches
has published for children on topics that range from bats to Ethan Allen to photosynthesis. A young adult novel, The Lost Children of Loup Marin, will be
around and over me so we are cuddled in
brought out by Random House next spring. But to the poetry: in October Emily published her first collection of such, Leave It Behind
like kit fox kittens in a den. There is no fear of freezing
(FutureCycle Press, 2011). “The poems in Emily Raabe’s first collection are distinct and imaginative,” says poet Robert Pack. “Often with a surreal edge,
in this dream, no muttered counting off of time
they have the intensity and grip of dream imagery and dream narrative.” “Leave It Behind expresses paradoxical wish of
because everything is here, has arrived on padded feet
every poet, seeking to leave behind—in both senses of that phrase—the language trace of her mind and heart,” adds poet Dan Chiasson. “And what a fine
with something like love in that it is the absence
first book Emily Raabe has left behind: vivid and strange, haunted by dreams of animals, alive with the landscapes and losses of her Vermont childhood.
of distance. We rest warm in the sleep
Raabe’s poetry seeks “something like love/ in that it is the absence/ of distance”—and yet it faces both absence and distance with unflinching imagination,
we fear to allow ourselves, not even on the darkest night,
intelligence, and grace.” Absence and distance, combined with love, are bound up in the book’s dedication. Leave It Behind
not even with the snow falling fast oh, fast, and animals
is dedicated in part to Emily’s husband, independent filmmaker Paul Devlin, to whom she was married in July. And it’s dedicated as well to Norm Walker.
so unafraid that they sleep unfurled in your arms.
“I’m sad he didn’t get to see the book, but I’m glad I got a chance to thank him for his generosity, and to tell him how he changed my life,” Emily
The dream, you understand me, was a gift, but it came
wrote to Phil. “I still teach ‘White Angel’ and Anne Sexton every semester. I’ve not yet had a student who wants to teach a class, but I hope that if I do,
with a price. I sleep each night with my palms up
I’ll be brave enough and humble enough to follow Mr. Walker’s lead. He has led me this far, and I’m grateful for it.”
and wake each morning alone.
Holderness School Today