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Judy Kronenfeld ’64

Alumnae Poet

Judy (Zahler) Kronenfeld ’64 is the author of seven collections of poetry. Her five full-length books include Groaning and Singing (FutureCycle, 2022), Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2022), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd edition (Antrim House, 2012)—winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in four dozen anthologies (including one textbook) and in such journals as Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, DMQ Review, Gyroscope Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Ohio Review, Offcourse, One, Rattle, Sheila-Na-Gig, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, and Your Daily Poem. Her creative nonfiction has appeared nine times in Under the Sun and has also been published in Hippocampus and Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among other places. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside. A Stanford Ph.D. in English (1971), Judy has also published a controversial book on Shakespeare and Shakespeare criticism, King Lear and the Naked Truth (Duke U.P., 1998) and a dozen scholarly articles on English Renaissance and other literatures. She lives in Riverside, California, with her anthropologist husband. They have two far-flung middle-aged children and four grandchildren.

Select Poems

Heads thrown back after one

bubbly sip—the young in soft drink commercials

seem as lavishly happy

as lottery winners. They look

the way we imagine ourselves

on the stages of our dreams—glamorous,

anointed, spotlit—our luck about to spill

into graciousness.

And even in ads for walk-in bathtubs,

incontinence pull-ups, stair chairs,

dementia care, the actors don’t merely grin

and bear it, but almost chortle,

like Cheshire cats who just

swallowed these amazing canaries,

though the old they represent

are more like expiring birds.

But the worst soft pitch: the “personal” Christmas

pictures taken in the dementia wing

of my father’s “retirement home.”

In another life, his face would say

This is ridiculous, even if he played along,

and sat in the appointed armchair

by the tree, and hugged the enormous white

teddy bear prop, as instructed.

But he is in this current life,

and guilelessly presses his warm cheek

against the bear’s fuzzy one,

and stabilizes the bear’s plump feet

with his free hand, as if they were a child’s.

From Groaning and Singing (FutureCycle Press, 2022).

First published in New Ohio Review 25 (Spring, 2019).