Molly Peacock, "A Friend Sails in on a Poem: Essays on Friendship, Freedom and Poetic Form" (Palimpsest Press, 2022)


For the last forty-five years, the distinguished poets Molly Peacock and Phillis Levin have read and discussed nearly every poem they’ve written-an unparalleled friendship in poetry. In A Friend Sails in on a Poem (Palimpsest Press, 2022), Peacock collects her most important essays on poetic form and traces the development of her formalist aesthetic across their lifelong back-and-forth. Peacock offers a charming, psychologically wise, and metaphorically piquant look at navigating craft and creativity. This is a book both for serious poets as well as for anyone who wants a deep dive into the impact of friendship on art itself. Levin's most recent work, Mr. Memory and Other Poems, tackles themes of memory and longing and is as expansive and is it detailed.

Another unique aspect of this already rare friendship is that they shared a therapist - one who was so beloved that, when she had a stroke and had to close her practice, both Peacock and Levin felt bereft like they'd lost a mother. In a fascinating role reversal, Peacock cared for her therapist after her stroke, and wrote magnificently about the experience and their years-long relationship prior to Joan's stroke in The Analyst (W. W. Nortton and Company, 2017). 

Peacock is a poet, biographer, and memoirist whose literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others, from poetry to prose and back again to poetry. In A Friend Sails in on a Poem she describes her decades-long friendship with distinguished poet Phillis Levin, quoting their poetry and outlining her personal rules for poetic form. In addition to The Analyst, Peacock's poetry collections include Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems from Biblioasis and W.W. Norton and Company. She is the founder of The Best Canadian Poetry series and the co-founder of Poetry in Motion on New York’s subways and buses. Her poems have appeared in leading literary journals such as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Malahat Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and Plume and are anthologized in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She has written two books about creativity in the lives of women artists: The Paper Garden and Flower Diary. Peacock teaches online for the Unterberg Poetry Center at 92NY.

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