Funkhouser, Erica 1949-
FUNKHOUSER, Erica 1949-
PERSONAL: Born September 17, 1949, in Cambridge, MA; daughter of Elmer Newton (in business) and Gladys (a homemaker; maiden name, McFeely) Funk-houser; married Thaddeus Beal (a painter), September 1, 1973 (divorced, 1995); children: Justin, Sophie. Education: Vassar College, B.A. (with honors), 1971; Stanford University, M.A. (English), 1973.
ADDRESSES: Home—179 Southern Ave., Essex, MA 01929.
CAREER: Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, MA, writer, 1974-77; part-time teacher in and around Boston, MA, including Boston University Metropolitan College, Salem State College, and North Shore Community College, 1976-87; Revels, Inc., Cambridge, MA, scriptwriter, 1986—; Lesley College, adjunct lecturer in adult degree program, 1987—; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, lecturer in poetry, 1988—.
MEMBER: Poetry Society of America, Academy of American Poets.
AWARDS, HONORS: Sylvia Plath prize, Ploughshares/Boston Phoenix, 1979; poetry fellow, Artists Foundation of Massachusetts, 1982, poetry fellow finalist, 1989; Consuelo Ford award, Poetry Society of America, 1989; Gertrude B. Claytor award, Poetry Society of America, 1990; George Bogin memorial award, Poetry Society of America, 1995; MacDowell Colony fellowship, 1994.
Natural Affinities, Alice James Books (Farmington, ME), 1983.
Sure Shot and Other Poems, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1992.
The Actual World, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1997.
Pursuit, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2002.
This Is Boston: A Walking Guide to Boston, edited by Dan Dimancescu, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1974.
The Long Haul (play), produced in Cambridge, MA, at Poets' Theatre, 1991.
Contributor to local newspapers, including Cambridge Chronicle. Poetry editor, Dark Horse, 1975-79, and Andover Review, 1977-80.
SIDELIGHTS: Erica Funkhouser's poetry collections mark her as a poet of great range who can celebrate the domestic or fantasize the mythological relationships between human beings and inanimate objects. In her first collection, Natural Affinities, Funkhouser begins with poems celebrating such ordinary tools as the hammer, the pipe wrench, and the screwdriver. Each tool is the subject of a separate poem and its usefulness and its role in human life are examined. Using simple, declarative language, Funkhouser creates a mythology for the neglected instruments of everyday life.
Funkhouser's second collection, Sure Shot and Other Poems, came out nine years after the release of Natural Affinities. Sure Shot and Other Poems is comprised of two parts; the first half of the collection contains poetry covering the familiar poetic topics of love, friendship, and death. Each poem encapsulates a story. These poems lead into the second part of the collection that contains three long narrative poems. The subjects of these longer narrative poems are Sacagawea, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley, historical figures who speak in their own voices in each of their poems. "The song she sings rings true," declared a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.
In subjects similar to those selected for Natural Affinities, Funkhouser returns to common objects that are not often the subject of poetry, such as a log, a window, and a henhouse, in The Actual World. By integrating inanimate and animate objects, the poet touches on the reality and destruction of the world through pain and anguish. Writing for Library Journal, Tim Gavin praised The Actual World for its "clear voice and vivid imagery."
Funkhouser's fourth book, Pursuit, contains poems dealing with physical, intellectual, and spiritual pursuits, both animal and human. Her poems address the details of everyday life, and she touches on the amusing and the mundane, as well as love and loss. A review for Publishers Weekly maintained that this collection is "reader-friendly," describing Funkhouser's verses as "stark and honest . . . well-told stories in verse."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Women Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Library Journal, October 1, 1992, review of Sure Shot and Other Poems, p. 91; November 15, 1997, Tim Gavin, review of The Actual World, p. 61.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 27, 1992, review of Sure Shot and Other Poems, p. 6.
Poetry, September, 1998, Bill Christophersen, review of The Actual World, p. 337.
Publishers Weekly, September 21, 1992, review of Sure Shot and Other Poems, p.79; February 25, 2002, review of Pursuit, p. 56.
Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1993, review of Sure Shot and Other Poems, p. 66.*