A recurring theme throughout Judith Minty's poetry is a defined sense of place. She was born in Michigan and grew up spending summers camping in the north woods with her family. This upbringing has strengthened her ability to capture the life of nature into her writing.
Her poetry does not tell any lies; she writes about real life, whether it's happy, sad, or just scary. Some of the best examples of this in her poetry have to do with family, such as lines from her poem, "Palmistry for Blind Mariners," one of which goes, "This lake and mothers are cruel." Another poem that gives the impression of a truthful outlook on family life is "Conjoined," a poem about marriage. In the poem, she says several things about how unhappy and trapped she feels in marriage, leading up to this poignant line:" We cannot escape each other." She doesn't try to make everything happy, which gives us a realistic sense in all of her writings. She is one of the few poets who can pull us out of our sheltered worlds into the actual one. There is also a darker sense to her poetry that blends in with her love for nature in a way that makes her writing rich and beautiful. Something else that is amazing about her poetry is that it can, at times, be raw and harsh, but at others beautiful and smooth.
She has taught at several locations, including everywhere from the University of Alaska to the University of California, and also at the Muskegon Correctional Facility. She now lives near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and spends part of each year at a cabin on the Yellow Dog River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This is actually where she came up with the name for her yellow lab. “He's a yellow dog, River,” she says.
Judith Minty's first book, Lake Songs and Other Fears, received the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum in 1973. Since then she has published four other full-length collections of poetry and three chapbooks. Her prose and poetry has appeared in over fifty anthologies and in many magazines and journals. Her work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Villa Montalvo Award for Excellence in Poetry, and the Eunice Tiestiens Award from Poetry magazine. She has been widely recognized and admired for her published work, but her greatest accomplishment is through each reader, whether her writing makes you take a longer glance when you're outside or just focusing more on life and the people around you. Her words create an appreciation in life that you might have forgotten.
By Patricia Schlutt and Kara Talen