Life Lines by Julia Carter Aldrich


I call these poems Life Lines because poems have been for me, since childhood, a way into the life of poetry where there is emotional truth, assurance and balance. I call them life-saving lines, because they are cast back and forth, in poetry, song, riddles, and dreams, connecting me both intimately and historically with other lives and rescuing me from drowning in sorrow or too much happiness. —Julia Carter Aldrich


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 100
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-948017-22-0


In this rich and moving collection, Julia Carter Aldrich offers poems that have been her “life lines”. In her first poem, she sees three women friends as poets — or perhaps they are the three muses of antiquity! One by one, they remember – “. . . tears streaming from the inland seas of their blue transparent dark rimmed eyes.” Her voice rings with words and sounds that celebrate lives that are “brusque and hardy from wind and burning. Like scrub pine.”

In the last poem of this collection, “The Verge”, the poet offers a new promise of song, perhaps in the voice of her daughter, who died in her twenty third year – a “younger song that goes ahead/girl-god and angel-bit; tall daughter, bred/strong-legged, following the shore” who says “Love’s the charm, and Paradise the door”. And we recall an earlier poem, “Riding Down from Shadom”, where the poet herself is a young woman, riding her bike down a road to a harbor place where “sweetened by water, and song” she is “settled more deeply into darkness, to be blessed.”

Throughout this book, Julia Carter Aldrich’s poetry takes us along, making her poems ours, so that we are “riding down from Shadom” with her.

Phyllis Beck Katz




Sleep-working, I count
three women in your island house
of women and children.

Two sons, and your son’s friend,
two daughters, who have not yet bled,
and your blind dog, snoring, underneath my bed.

Outside, a dragon’s tail, beating the ground.
No. Your washing machine, in the back shed,
and you, then, with a thermos of coffee,
waking us before they waken,
those sleeping chords of light, the cannibal kids.


Julia Carter AldrichJulia Carter Aldrich was born in Webster Groves, Missouri in 1930, the namesake of her great-grandmother, Julia Carter Aldrich (1834-1924), pioneer poet and writer from Wauseon, Ohio. In 1939 a “red scare” was alarming the “progressive educators” of the St. Louis School System, and her father was among those who were moving on to more welcoming environs. For her family it was to the rich life of Greenwich Village and New York University. She would publish her first poem, at sixteen, in Seventeen Magazine.

She attended Ward-Belmont Junior College in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from New York University. Her uptown life was working in publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her downtown life was among Village writers and painters, publishing poems in a number of journals and reading her poems widely, especially among the emerging women poets of that time.

In the ’70s she moved with her family to Springs, East Hampton Town, where she was one of the poets who gathered and read at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor. In 1985 she received a summer fellowship grant to the Community of the Arts in Cummington, Massachusetts, where she fell in love with the hilltowns and the people, and stayed. In 1988, after the death of her daughter, she attended Andover Newton Seminary, and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in