Thursday, 15 June 2017

POET OF THE MONTH #40: Helene Mullins

Twayne Publishers US, 1970


Before she left, my mother,
trying to make it easier for us,
by slow degrees erased her identity.
Shedding the meretricious ornamentations,
the perpetual hopes, the outworn new beginnings,
she covered with the tenuity of old age
her beauty, grace, the poor remains of a gaiety
hoarded against a need that might arise.
So intent was she
on divesting herself of all familiar lineaments,
she did not heed a word of what we were saying:
that we were glad she soon would be released
from the tremors of our menaced civilization,
the fears and horrors seeping through our walls.
Barely recognizable at the end,
except to us who knew her as she was,
she slipped away
with a reassuring flutter of her hands.
We watched her go toward her unknown destination,
then turned to face our own.

The Mirrored Walls and Other Poems (1970)

The Poet:  The following biographical statement appears on the Yale University Library website.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the poem re-posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Helene Mullins (née Gallagher), American poet and novelist, was born in New York City in 1899, and was active from the 1920s (by which time she had already married Ivan Mullins) through the 1960s. She and her sister Marie McCall collaborated on their first novel, Paulus Fy (New York: Robert M. McBride & Company) in 1924. Mullins's breakthrough as an author came when a novel, Convent Girl, and a volume of poetry, Earthbound & Other Poems, were published by Harper and Brothers in 1929.  In 1935 she was involved in a near-fatal car accident, and soon thereafter she and McCall moved to Hollywood, California, for a lengthy convalescence. Except for this period, and time spent in Washington DC during the Second World War, Mullins lived her entire life in New York City. She continued to publish poems (under the name Mullins, though she later married Linné Johnson) in journals and collected volumes until 1970.  Helene Mullins died in Manhattan in 1991.

Unfortunately, Mullins remains so obscure that it was impossible to find a single photograph of her to add to this post.  The only image I could find for The Mirrored Walls and Other Poems, her final volume of poetry published twenty-one years before her death, is the one posted above. 

Click HERE to read a fascinating post about poet HELENE MULLINS on the fascinating and always informative Neglected Books website.

You might also enjoy:
POET OF THE MONTH #37: Bernice Kenyon
POET OF THE MONTH #35: Edna St Vincent Millay
POET OF THE MONTH #2: Marianne Moore

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