The Refrain by Anne Whitehouse


“Heartfelt, profound, and deeply insightful, her poems matter.  A lot.” —Boston Literary Magazine


  • Kind: Perfect
  • Pages: 124
  • Language: English
  • Published: November 2012
  • ISBN: 978-1-933675-80-0


“These poems portray exactly what they intend to portray, true feelings and a quest to understand our physical and spiritual existence. Whitehouse’s personal narratives and meditations…are never elevated beyond the believable, yet they achieve a unique effect in their persistent attempt to discover and reveal the subtlety of experience. Her subjects are drawn from nature, from stories and observations of people, and from her own meditations… Whitehouse doesn’t judge, and she never gives too much, but she always gives us something that sticks.”  – Ron GaskillJerseyworks

“Heartfelt, profound, and deeply insightful, her poems matter. A lot.” – Boston Literary Magazine



Haunted by a phrase in a song,
the sequence of notes rising,
falling, rising, falling,
a nuanced refrain
like flowing water.

Where were we going
away from home?
Not to the cities
of our dreams—
Venice, or Rome,
but to a long, curving
claw of sand
washed up in mangroves
to form an island.
Colonized by hurricanes,
sister to storms,
palm fronds rippling
like skirts or flags.

Hot in the buzzing haze
of summer—
insect music vibrated
through air,

through water.
Everything was moving,
And everything was still.
It was life and death,
it was life-in-death.

Amen. Amen.


Anne WhitehouseAnne Whitehouse was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up there during the civil rights era. She graduated from Harvard College, where she studied with Octavio Paz, Robert Fitzgerald, Robert Lowell, and Jane Shore. She went on to receive an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. Her thesis, advised by Charles Wright, became her first collection of poems, The Surveyor’s Hand. More than 25 years passed before her second collection. But the muse had not entirely deserted her; Blessings and Curses was published by Poetic Matrix Press in 2009, followed by Finishing Line Press chapbooks, Bear in Mind and One Sunday Morning, in the next two successive years. These poems, along with a new series, The Decisive Moment, form this new collection, The Refrain, a culmination of poems going back three decades.

Anne Whitehouse’s novel Fall Love, now available as a free ebook from Smashwords and Feedbacks, is being translated into Spanish by noted Colombian author and translator Manuela Canela.  Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines throughout the English-speaking world, from the United States to India. Her book reviews and feature articles have been published in major newspapers throughout the U.S. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Additional information

Weight 10 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in