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Kate Farrell

Kate Farrell grew up in Southern Pines, North Carolina. After the death of her first husband, she moved with her two small children to New York to be a poet and study literature at Columbia University. After graduating magna cum laude, Farrell taught writing at Columbia and with the NY State Poets in the Schools program. Of her seven books, two were cowritten with the poet Kenneth Koch, including Sleeping on the Wing: An Anthology of Modern Poetry with Essays on Reading and Writing, a volume widely used in high school and college classrooms. Several other volumes matched poetry from around the world with art works from the Metropolitan Museum. Farrell acted for a decade with the New York Art Theater Institute, and she has done presentations on the connections between art, poetry, and the natural world in conjunction with the installations of her brother, the environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and her work was chosen for three editions of Best Spiritual Writing. Visiting Night at the Academy of Longing, a volume of her poetry, was published by Lavender Ink in 2016.

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

  1. Friendship. Besides the immensely lucky friendships with my husband, son, and daughter, all the others which have lit my life over the years.
  2. Mystery. Especially the great interconnecting mysteries that with time and contemplation seem to become by degrees more and more ponderable.
  3. Dreams. I love their mystery (see #2) and the light they shed. I like to keep track of mine in a dream diary on my computer.
  4. Books. Especially poetry and certain works of philosophy and metaphysics.
  5. No.1B Ticonderoga pencils. Lead soft enough to underline book passages with minimum pressure, plus a good smudge-less eraser.
  6. My electronic reader. Not a replacement for printed books, of course, but it has its magic. The page-light that permits reading in the middle of the night without waking one’s partner. The ability to look up unfamiliar terms on the spot—or send highlighted passages to your inbox.
  7. Music. From soul, rock, and Leonard Cohen to Miles Davis, Philip Glass, and the great classical composers.
  8. My standing desk. Wonderful to be on your feet, ready to mosey from window to window mulling over the next line.
  9. Nature. Long childhood days spent in the pine woods near Southern Pines, NC formed an indestructible bond.
  10. Solitude, especially double solitude. As when the soulmate there in the room with you can’t do without it either.