Carol Purington’s Quiet Optimism

Written in December of 2020. First posted to Facebook in a shorter form, but otherwise not previously published. See Carol’s Woodslawn Farm website, and see also “Breathing Poetry” by Eric Goldscheider. See Carol’s obituary.   +

Carol Purington

16 November 1949 – 8 December 2020

Sad news is that beloved haiku and tanka poet Carol Purington died on 8 December 2020. She was born on 16 November 1949, so she had just turned 71. She wrote the most perceptive poems about Woodslawn, the farm where she lived her entire life in Colrain, Massachusetts. The farmhouse was built in 1826, and Carol had a room with windows overlooking the fields across from 152 Wilson Hill Road. In the picture shown here are four of her haiku, written out by her mother in my haiku autograph book in May of 2001. Carol was bedridden by polio her entire adult life, and highly restricted in her movements, using speech recognition software to write her impeccable letters. Nevertheless, she was able to sign her initials here—with a pen held between her lips. Among these poems is the following classic, which won first prize in the Haiku Society of America’s 1992 Henderson Haiku Contest:

                 deep winter

                 the armload of firewood

                 chills the kitchen

It was my privilege to have spent an afternoon at Woodslawn Farm with Carol (and with Larry Kimmel) on 22 May 2001 when the three of us were editing Paperclips, the 2001 Haiku North America conference anthology. I had asked her if she might be a coeditor, because it was the only way she could participate in the conference, held nearby in Boston that year. Carol Purington was a courageous, determined, and ultimately optimistic poet, filled with graciousness and integrity. Her work was of remarkable stature, not even counting the difficult challenges that she dealt with on a daily basis. Rest in peace, Carol.

                 tulips rising—

                 the last of the firewood

                 almost out

                                (for Carol)

Carol Purington, in 2020, with Farm Song, her last poetry book before she died.