opening february 14 seven to ten
Roberto Molina, Inc.
2437 Vz University Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77005
- Gallery Hours -
Tuesday-Saturday Noon-S p.m.
Thursday til 9 p.m.
Closed Sunday & Monday
Elsie sat, reading "The Cat in the Hat,"
Analyzing its rhyme scheme.
The cellar flooded. Elsie put Chopin
on the record player and turned the volume higher.
The house caught on fire;
It was completely burned.
Elsie moved the family to an apartment and painted
the flames, calling the picture "Winter Overturned. "
Her husband, because she ignored him,
Developed a series of psychosomatic ailments.
She painted his portrait, complete with boils,
When her children turned to slate,
She realized what she had done,
But although she sang to them and painted
Their gray bodies flesh pink,
They remained stone.
from "Amputations,"George Braziller Publishing Co., New York
Poet m person
By Patricia S. Fuhrer
Many mothers bronze their babies* shoes as keepsakes. Cynthia Macdonald, American poet and coordinator of the creative writing program at the University of Houston,
has her son's feet in a velvet-lined box.
In the poem "Departure," from her collection of poetry entitled "Amputations,"
Macdonald figuratively amputates and saves her son's feet.
Her first collection was published in 1972 and was followed by "Transplants" in
1976. This spring a third book of poetry, "(W)holes," will come out.
Macdonald's hectic shedule includes traveling about 4,000 miles each month.
She commutes to Houston every other week from Baltimore where she is professor of a
writing seminar at Johns Hopkins University. Previously she taught at Sarah Lawrence
after earning a master's degree there in 1970.
Before she began publishing poetry, Macdonald was a lirico spinto (soprano)
opera singer. Fifteen years ago she won the San Francisco Opera auditions and placed
third in the West Coast Metropolitan Opera auditions.
"I probably could have had a successful career as a singer," Macdonald said in a
recent interview at her University of Houston office.
"But poetry is like a disease; it comes on you," she continued, quoting American
poet Robert Penn Warren. "I write because I must write." "I could choose to give up
singing, but I could never choose to give up writing."
Although Macdonald spends a great deal of time commuting from the east coast
to the gulf, she stays in Houston for special events. The University of Houston and
P.E.N. (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) cosponsored a national writing conference in
November. The senior editor of Doubleday and Co. and the editor of panel discussions, Houstonian Donald Barthelme, fiction writer for "New Yorker" magazine, Macdonald and others presented an evening of readings for the public in conjunction with
Prior to the P.E.N, conference Macdonald attended the National Women's Conference.
"Yes, I'm a feminist," Macdonald said. "I support the ERA. Women should
have a chance to realize their ambitions."
However, she said, many of the conference slogans were "simplistic," probably
because simplicity is necessary to achieve political goals.
"Equality will come," Macdonald said, "but it will require grass roots work which
will be slower and less fun than going to a convention."
Macdonald knew since her early teens that she wanted children and referred to her
two, Scott, 18 and Jennifer, 21, as centrally important in her life. She believes strongly
that pursuing a career while rearing a family is possible.
She paused for a moment and looked out of her office window.
"You know," she began slowly, "women come to me and say they don't have time
to write. I tell them they do have time to write. What they don't have time to do is
give dinner parties."
Macdonald's family is rooted in Houston. Her grandparents lived in Houston for
many years and Macdonald often visited here though she is a native New Yorker. She
has incorporated aspects of Houston into her poems and says she would like to see the
city become a center for writers and writing.
Macdonald is often asked how much autobiography her poetry contains. She considers the question irrelevant.
"I use dramatic monologue," she said. "It is one of the ways a poet has of
shaping emotional experience and making it 'art.' I don't like to separate fiction and
Then she laughed, snapped her lorgnette closed and leaned forward in her chair.
"You wouldn't ask a fiction writer if all his stories were 'real' would you?" she asked.
HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH February 1978 Page 15