There is no autobiography but this
When she died suddenly four years ago Sarai Austin left behind a body of work, mostly poems, that few have had the chance to see. She’d been working during her last years on collecting and perfecting her oeuvre, wanting to finish before she died, but of course she didn’t, and of course we didn’t expect her death when it happened, less than a month after her seventieth birthday, a little over two weeks before Trump’s election. But she didn’t show them around, it was a few years since she’d done a reading, and even I didn’t get to read them while she was still alive. I found them on the hard drive of her laptop mostly typed in Wordstar, her preferred writing tool after handwriting. I’ve left them as she left them, correcting only an occasional typo. Some of them read more like diary entries with line breaks (domestic poetry), some she no doubt would have left out. I left a couple out myself, but I find the whole story, what there is here, to be worth the read, thus the chronology. The “titles”–“2001/dastardly”–at the top of each page are really just identifiers, and I’ve left them, not wanting to make choices she didn’t make. Some poems have titles in parentheses instead–“(oats)”–which seem to be earlier versions, perhaps not finalized during her life. I’m aware that some other editor, less close to her than I, might–no doubt would–make other choices. For now I just want to get them where people can see them if they wish, and where I can read them wherever I am.
I’ve spent these four years, with many breaks, posting these poems. They’re all there now, as far as I can tell, with only a few omissions, a few that were clearly fragments, unfinished. I am likely to go through them again though, and remove a few more, but I wanted to start with as complete a set as possible. This is a domestic poetry, everyday life as she lived and felt it, including the loneliness of a writer alone in her study, happy with nature, occasionally unhappy with her life. (Several of the poems mention Emily Dickinson, a kinship she felt, though her tone is different.) This is Sarai’s Collected Poems. There truly is no better autobiography. I appear in it, not always gently, but I’ve left that in as important to her story Of course some of the poems work better than others, and I hope to create a subset of Selected Poems later, if I can bring myself to be that kind of judge of her work. For now there’s a ton of stuff here, and in my opinion well worth reading through.
Navigation: Click on a year link below. On the page that appears there are links at the top to previous and next pages, and one to come back to this page. Some–maybe most–of the year pages have links to sub-pages. Once you drill down to a page with a poem on it there are links at the bottom of that page to navigate through the poems in that grouping, pages within pages. There are a lot of poems. Navigation would be complex however it was arranged. Perhaps it will be better later, but for now, at least you can get around.