Blossom, Laurel 1943-
BLOSSOM, Laurel 1943-
PERSONAL: Born June 9, 1943, in Washington, DC; daughter of Dudley (a business executive) and Jean Vilas (a homemaker) Blossom; married John L. Thomas, 1963 (divorced 1969); married Leonard Todd (a graphic designer), May 12, 1996; children: Rebecca Bingham Kovacik. Education: Vassar College, 1961-63; Radcliffe College, B.A. (English), 1966. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Unitarian Universalist. Hobbies and other interests: Swimming, reading, travel.
CAREER: Poet, editor, and writer. Poets & Writers, New York, NY, development director, 1977-81; Writers Community, cofounder and director, 1976-86; Writers Community Committee, chair, YMCA National Writer's Voice, 1986—; Laura (Riding) Jackson Home Preservation Foundation, 1995—. Member, board of trustees, William Bingham Foundation, 1963-2001; member, board of regents, Harris Manchester College, Oxford, 2000—.
MEMBER: Explorers Club, Academy of American Poets.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ohio Arts Council fellowship, 1980 and 1988; New York Foundations for the Arts fellowship, 1989; Harris Manchester College, Oxford, visiting fellow, 1996.
Any Minute, Greenhouse Review Press (Santa Cruz, CA), 1979.
What's Wrong, Cobham & Hatherton Press (Cleveland, OH), 1987.
The Papers Said, Greenhouse Review Press (Santa Cruz, CA), 1993.
(Editor) Splash!: Great Writing about Swimming (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction), Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1996.
(Editor) Many Lights in Many Windows: Twenty Years of Great Fiction and Poetry from the Writers Community, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.
Contributor to Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1998. Also regular contributor of reviews and articles to "things," a British cultural journal; regular book reviewer for American Book Review, Publishers Weekly, and others.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Degrees of Latitude, a book-length poem depicting "the geography of a woman's life"; "The Longitude Problem," a book-length poem and companion to "Degrees of Latitude,"; "Sky High," an anthology of literature about flying; "The Book of Drafts," a book detailing the development of a single poem; ongoing research into the lives of poets Edna St. Vincent Millay, Laura Riding Jackson, Jorie Graham, Louise Glück, Carolyn Forché, and Sharon Olds.
SIDELIGHTS: Laurel Blossom wrote, in her introduction to Splash!: Great Writing about Swimming, "The literature of swimming is rich and varied, and like all good literature it does not confine itself to its primary subject, but delves deep into human experience." Accordingly, Blossom did not limit the writings included in Splash! to just the athletic side of the sport. Instead, as a reviewer for the Economist noted, she "has wisely chosen to focus on imaginative writing." This includes stories from authors like John Updike, John Cheever, and Ray Bradbury; poems by A. E. Housman and James Dickey, among others; and reminiscences from top competitors like Dawn Fraser, "whose account of winning the gold medal . . . at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne is riveting," wrote Kirsten Conover, in the Christian Science Monitor. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote regarding Splash!: "With a leisurely crawl, not a speed-stroke, readers will want to explore nearly every selection here."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 1996, Kirsten Conover, "Swimming in Literature: From Shallows to Depths," p. B3.
Economist, July 20, 1996, review of Splash!: Great Writing about Swimming, p. 7975.
Publishers Weekly, April 8, 1996, review of Splash!, p. 56.