“Poet” is much closer to the top of the list. Wife and mother are up there too. Possibly the three stand together.
I know that from talking to her, reading her poetry and, most of all, from listening to her read her own work at a poetry reading on July 14 at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center.
As Michele Wolf experienced herself when she was first inspired to write poetry, there is no experience like hearing poetry read aloud by its author.
Wolf attended a prestigious writer’s workshop after studying journalism in college. While at the workshop on a work-scholarship, she continued to study journalism — but she also went to hear poetry presentations.
“It was a reawakening,” she says, recalling an earlier interest in poetry during high school. “Totally eye-opening — I had never been exposed to top contemporary poetry. I had never heard it read aloud by authors. It was so moving.”
From then on, she says, her career took on a dual trajectory: publishing/journalism and poetry.
To date, Wolf has published two books of poetry. Her first, Conversations During Sleep, won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. This spring, she published Immersion. The book has also won awards and received significant critical praise.
Describing Immersion, one important critic wrote: “Michele Wolf’s Immersion is a complex, gorgeous book about adoption and its gifts. As the speaker in Wolf’s poems becomes a mother, she also becomes a child, seeing the world in surprising ways. Traveling the globe to find her child, she travels inward as well. … Destiny, joy, heartbreak and redemption. How families are made and remade. This is an important book of poetry.”
Prior to her two books, Wolf published The Keeper of the Light, a critically acclaimed chapbook (a small book containing ballads, poems, tales or tracts — the name dates to the Middle Ages when such small books were sold by “chapmen” or peddlers). In addition, her poetry has been published in numerous journals and magazines.
Since 2002, Wolf has been on faculty at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.
Wolf is married to Sanford (Sandy) Herzon. A teacher of biology and forensics, Herzon has worked in the science department at Wootton High in Rockville for 10 years.
Wolf and Herzon have a daughter, Caroline. She is in third grade. Caroline is from China. Michele and Sandy adopted her when she was an infant.
In our interview, Wolf smiles when she describes her position as an editor at a major magazine as her “day job.” It is, she explains, a job she likes. Adding to the challenge of the job is the daily Metro commute to and from Gallery Place.
Wife, mother, teacher, daughter, sister, journalist — it is in her poetry that one discovers the heart of Michele Wolf.
Fortunately, there will be three opportunities in September to hear Michele Wolf read her poetry in person. All three events are free of charge.
On Sept. 11 at 6 p.m., she will be at the Iota Club and Café in Arlington, Va., and on Sept. 19, she will read in Chevy Chase at the Café Muse Literary Series at 7 p.m., held at the Friendship Heights Village Center. On Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m., she will appear at the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University.
Details for all events are on Michele Wolf’s website, www.michelewolf.com, under “News and Events.”
Her latest book, Immersion (Spring 2011), is published by The Word Works and is available from wordworksbooks.org.