Spokane poet Laura Read’s most recent collection, 2013’s Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was the winner of AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and published as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. Her poem “Bureau” appeared in Willow Springs 70.
In her profile for the magazine, Read says the poem originated in a Port Townsend Writers’ Workshop session directed by Dorianne Laux, one of Read’s favorite poets (and the subject of a Willow Springs interview recently featured on Bark). “One day,” Read says, “[Laux] read us Suzanne Cleary’s poem ‘Anyways,’ which is about how the speaker’s family says that word with an ‘s’ on the end and how the speaker’s husband does not. It’s a funny and a serious poem, and I loved it. Dorianne asked us to think of something our families say or do differently than other families and to write about it. I immediately thought of the word bureau because I’ve always been mocked for calling my dresser that, as if I am being extremely proper, when in fact that is just what my family calls it. I had fun writing the poem because I liked how the bureau literally travelled, and I liked how it became about my mother and my grandmother, the way Cleary’s poem is about anyways and also about where you come from.”