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Carmen Germain

Carmen Germain

The Old Refusals

Carmen Germain grew up near the Mississippi in rural Wisconsin. She lived and worked in Washington, D.C., Montana, and California before making her home in Washington State in the upper Elwha River valley, Olympic Peninsula. She taught at Peninsula College, Port Angeles, for over twenty years where she was a co-director of the Foothills Writers Series.

Holding degrees in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of British Columbia, she is the author of the chapbook Living Room, Earth (Pathwise Press) and the collection These Things I Will Take with Me (Cherry Grove). Cider Press Review nominated her work for Best of the Web in 2016; she has received a Washington Community Colleges Humanities Association award for poetry. The anthologies In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (University of Iowa Press) and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press) as well as the journals Flyway, The Madison Review, Cold Mountain Review, Poet Lore, and Natural Bridge, among others, have published her poems.

During her time as a visiting artist/scholar at the American Academy in Rome, she researched the work of post-war novelist Elsa Morante; some of the poems in The Old Refusals had their genesis in Italy. Germain’s work is influenced by Italian/American culture, especially the Little Italy that was once alive in the South End of Albany, New York, as well as Upper Midwest farm culture and the wilderness of northern British Columbia. Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico has a presence in her work. In addition to learning from poetry, she is also a visual artist.


Read James Bertolino's review of The Old Refusals on Raven Chronicles.


The Old Refusals: $16.00

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Poem from The Old Refusals

Husband Wooing

A warm summer night
when I wore this silky thing
sunk in the steamer trunk
twenty-five years ago, sure.

How August yields to August.
Tonight, you’re downstairs
on the World Wide Web, courting
a turntable, a collector’s deal

you don’t want to lose,
downloading the what and how
and why. Looking in the mirror
I long for that other woman

how she could make you come
to her bed, the stars whirling,
the stylus stuck thumping
at the edge of a song.