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Joan Alice Kimball ’53

Alumnae Poet

Joan AW Kimball

Known as Alice Wood at Smith, Joan Alice Wood Kimball '53 was a year ahead of Sylvia Plath, where they both took Marie Boroff's creative fiction class. Though that connection has been erased along with the blackboards, Kimball returned to read at the Poetry Center anniversary celebrations, 2008 and 2017.

Although writing poems all her life, it wasn't until age 71, when she joined the Wayland, Mass. Poetry Workshop, that Kimball started submitting poems to journals. A founder of the Concord Poetry Center, and a member of Powow River Poets, she also belonged for six years to the comic performance troupe, X. J. Kennedy & the Light Brigade. She was a Finalist for the Morton Marr and Atlanta Review poetry prizes, published two illustrated poetry books, This River Hill (2009) and Summer River (2013), and co-edited with Debra Martin the posthumous collection of Walter Howard's poetry, Reflections in Moonlight (2018).

Joan Alice runs poetry study groups at the Wayland and Concord, Mass. libraries. Her limerick, "Cold October," is inscribed on granite in Edmands Park, Newton, Mass. Her new collection, Early Light, will be published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

Select Poems

"You are old, Granna Joan," said the girl almost grown,

"Yet you won't tell us how to prepare.

When your spent ticker skips,   

and you cash in your hips,

do you think, not to tell us, is fair?"


"In my youth," her Gran said, "I was sure that a head- 

stone or planting a tree would be right.

But with rain that is acid

and climate turned captive

to carbon, no future's in sight.


"When it happens to me, I'll be gone, don't you see?

So it's hardly my place to make plans.  

But it's clear that you hate 

waiting till it's too late, 

so consider a fête at your Gran's.


"Text my list of good friends, tell them what was my end, 

set a date for a wild celebration. 

Blow French horns and bassoons,

beat on bowls with large spoons,

recite poems in brass jubilation.


"And that's all!" said the hag, as she picked up her bag

and threw it kerdunk in her kayak.

Then she sculled from the land,

left the girl on the strand,

and pulled up on the point for a hike back.


published online at the Smith College Poetry Center, Nov. 2017


( a parody of a parody, with apologies to Lewis Carroll and Robert Southey

 for “Father William” and “The Old Man’s Comforts.")