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We are honored and pleased that Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will host a reading for the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016). East Coast authors featured in the 212-page collection of writing & art — Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols — will read their work included in the anthology. Details below.


WHERE: Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02140, 617-491-2220,

WHEN: Friday, 2/24/17, at 7 p.m.

WHO:  Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols will read selections from the Nancy Drew Anthology.


We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Julie E. Bloemeke provided these photos taken at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. Julie contributed the poem “Triple Hoax,” featured below, to the collection.


 AUTHOR’S NOTES ON THE PHOTOS: I submitted two photos, a reflection of duality in my history with Nancy Drew.  In both, I wear a pendant, bought years ago precisely because it reminded me of the spider sapphire on the cover of one of the hardback Nancy Drew books I owned and read as a girl.   In the first shot, there is a portrait of Millie Benson, far more an adventurer and rogue spirit than my poem gives her credit for.  It is my way of paying homage to my fellow Toledoan writer.  A high wind raced over the porch as I took the photos.  The only way to keep Millie in place was to tape her photo to the inside cover.  The gusts were so strong that my copy of The Spider Sapphire Mystery blew off of the columns, many times, missing my head by mere inches.

I chose to shoot at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta for its columns and stone, its suggestion of castle, its name, Hall, another tip to other Nancy Drew titles and locations.  The sun flare reminds me of ghosts, orbs, another layer of mystery, all caught without my knowing as these are self-portraits, taken with a timer.  I could not see my pose or the light; it was all a mix of guesswork and chance.  So when I went back and brought up the frame, lit as it was, with Mildred looking over Nancy, Nancy looking over me, me looking over the anthology, it seemed a haunting serendipity.

In the other photo, I wanted to unbutton Nancy, to satisfy some of her longing, and mine.  Perhaps I wanted to scandalize Millie a bit too.  I left many clues; the more one regards the photo, the more there seem to be.  The old lace in the window is both a hint to a Nancy Drew title, and to one of the only humorous lines of poetry I have — as of yet — written.  My boots are also a metaphor: all of the suggestive seduction of tying and untying, brass bound, the hidden staircase of want.  The ring I wear was made in Toledo; I purchased it from the Toledo Museum of Art after my poem won the 2015 ekphrastic contest there.  Look closely at the layers in the window; there are two people passing by, made captive by the camera, caught and reflected back, people I did not see at the time.  With no one behind the lens, my expressions are for an unknown, the intensity behind my eyes a surprise even to me.

 Triple Hoax

How I searched those promising titles,
their suggestive seductions: scarlet
slippers, brass-bound trunks, hollow
oaks that refused to reveal where.

How every mystery stopped me,
Ned and Nancy at another “No
Trespassing” sign, perfect set-up
of near lust again interrupted.

How could Ned and Nancy resist
all those heavy breathing phone calls,
that sensual slinking behind
moss-covered mansions, intense

whispers in the dim light of twisted
candles, the two of them, alone, crouched
under the hidden window, fingering
that spider sapphire in the dark?

Book after book, I began to get a clue,
suspect a double jinx, but still I held out,
determined to find the key

to Nancy’s jewel box, the secret
of Shady Glen, hoping that Nancy
would rip off her velvet mask, slip

under the hidden staircase, unbutton
that old lace and say, here, Ned,
is the real twin dilemma.

But instead, there was only the persistent
mystery, the tease of the broken
locket, those damned leaning chimneys, 
the crossword cipher that kept me—
captive witness, dancing puppet—
from unveiling the silent suspect,

the true sinister omen, the phantom
trick behind the text,
the Carolyn Keene who wasn’t

so Carolyn
or Keene,

who wrote Ned and Nancy
into perpetual chaste,
the hex of a wooden lady
who never held a secret after all.

Clue: 23 Nancy Drew titles below. *

* (1) The Triple Hoax (2) The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (3) The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (4) The Message in the Hollow Oak (5) The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion (6) The Sign of the Twisted Candles (7) The Hidden Window Mystery (8) The Spider Sapphire Mystery (9) The Double Jinx Mystery (10) The Clue in the Jewel Box (11) The Secret of Shady Glen (12) The Clue of the Velvet Mask (13) The Hidden Staircase (14) The Secret in the Old Lace (15) The Twin Dilemma (16) The Clue of the Broken Locket (17) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney (18) The Clue in the Crossword Cipher (19) Captive Witness (20) The Clue of the Dancing Puppet (21) The Silent Suspect (22) The Sinister Omen (23) The Secret of the Wooden Lady

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A sleuth of intuition, Nancy searched for symbols, signs, clues, not only to solve cases, but the mysteries of the people she encountered — their gestures, tone of voice, shifty glances, contradictory stories.  And Ned, her “special friend,” was curiously exempt.  Ned and Nancy snuck out, broke rules, trespassed, untied each other, freed one another from kidnappers and enemies.  He rescued her; she rescued him.  And yet in all of this, no passion or true physical intimacy, not even a startling kiss to emphasize the throes of their continual life-or-death predicaments.   I read Nancy Drew voraciously, waiting for such a moment, hoping the detective I so admired for her pluck would let her guard down, expose the clues of desire.  And when she didn’t, I began to feel a sense of betrayal and frustration, a flagging trust, as if the hex had been on me all along.   Couple this with my discovery that Carolyn Keene — who I much admired and longed to be — was not a person but a pseudonym, and I felt doubly duped.  It was only in further research for “Triple Hoax” [included above] that I learned another truth.  Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, I spent almost two decades living only miles from Mildred Wirt Benson — largely Carolyn Keene — while she was alive, and often still writing.  It is a great regret that I only discovered this well after her death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie E. Bloemeke’s poetry manuscript, Slide to Unlock, was recently chosen by Stephen Dunn as a 2016 finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award.  Her manuscript also placed as a semifinalist in six book prizes, among them the 2016 Crab Orchard Review Poetry Open Competition, the 2016 Washington Prize, the 2015 Hudson Prize, and the 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book Award.  A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and a 2016 fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, her work has appeared or will be published in Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, The James Dickey Review, Four Chambers, and Bridge Eight among others. Her work has also been included in various anthologies, including The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: Georgia, My Cruel Invention, and The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.  A 2016 finalist for the Saluda River Poetry Prize for the state of South Carolina, she was also the winner of the 2015 ekphrastic competition at the Toledo Museum of Art, where her work was on view with the Claude Monet collection. In November she served as the inaugural Poetry Director for the Milton Literary Festival in Georgia.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at

We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Jennifer Hernandez sent this photo of herself and the book in front of the giant walleye at Lake Mille Lacs on a road trip home from the League of Minnesota Poets fall conference. As she tells us, it doesn’t get a whole lot more Minnesotan than this! Jennifer contributed the poem, “Nancy Drew is my kind of princess,” featured below, to the collection.

 Nancy Drew is my kind of princess

          flashlight scepter in hand
Sleuthing through secret passages,
          tunnels, attics, caves
Girl detective slays her own dragons
          needs no rescue
Sheathed in smart frocks with
          matching handbags
Strawberry blonde hair
          tucked behind one ear
Clues deduced
          mysteries solved
Blue roadster
          speeding into the sunset

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez teaches and writes in the Minneapolis area. Her work has appeared recently in Mothers Always WriteRose Red ReviewSilver Birch Press, and anthologized in Bird Float, Tree Song (Silverton Books). She has performed her poetry at a nonprofit garage, a bike shop filled with taxidermy, and in the kitchen for her children, who are probably her toughest audience.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Lee Parpart provided this photo taken at Riverdale Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with the CN Tower and the downtown Toronto skyline in the background. Lee contributed the prose piece “Nancy drew,” featured below, to the 212-page anthology.

Nancy drew

Whenever things got slow around River Heights, or when there were personnel changes over at the Stratemeyer Syndicate that upset her or made her feel less invested in her own development as a character, Nancy coped by drawing.

Her most fertile period as an artist came in the gap between books 7 and 11. Mildred A. Wirt, aka the first Carolyn Keene, was on strike to protest the lowering of freelance rates at the syndicate during the Depression, and had been replaced by a male journalist, who wrote books 8, 9, and 10.

To distract herself from the loss of her preferred author, Nancy drew. In the couple of years that passed between The Clue in the Diary and The Clue of the Broken Locket, she completed at least a dozen self-portraits, crowding most of them onto a single large sheet of paper left behind by one of the Stratemeyer illustrators. For each drawing or set of drawings, she used a different method to capture some aspect of her appearance or some element of her character that she suspected might have been missed.

The first two sessions took the form of a mystic, Dada-style experiment in automatic writing, with Nancy wearing a blindfold and giving herself exactly one minute per portrait. Instead of drawing her own features, she sketched a rough outline of her body, then attempted, without being able to look at the lines, to fill the image with written notes.

The first one made her look like a polar bear and overflowed with adjectives handed down by various members of the team responsible for her creation: Peppy, Plucky, Curious, Kind.

The other attempt, which came out looking more like a real female silhouette, contained words and phrases not heard around the office, but whose meanings resonated with her as possible clues to her overpowering, lifelong need to identify and solve mysteries. Unflinching. Dogged. Determined. And a more shadowy phrase that was just coming into parlance in America at the time: anti-authoritarian.

In a bad experiment never to be repeated, Nancy drew one portrait of herself while driving her blue roadster through the center of River Heights. This was deeply out of character and almost had dire consequences when Nancy hopped a curb near the soda shop and came close to hitting a young couple in mid-kiss.

An equally frivolous, though much less risky, formal approach involved using vegetable-based watercolors to create a simple portrait of herself driving the roadster, then using treats to encourage Togo to lick the image until it took on a loose, indistinct quality that made her think of beaches and Toulouse-Lautrec.

In homage to both M.C. Escher and her main creator, Nancy once depicted herself as half a silhouette in the process of being drawn by the curved hand of Mildred Wirt. Nancy knew Mildred was a writer, not an artist, but she wanted to be sure to give the almost forgotten original author due credit for her own existence.

In one final drawing carried out shortly before Mildred was reinstated, Nancy used a magnifying glass to closely inspect the skin of her forearm, and devoted herself to reproducing exactly what she saw there. Good detecting was about learning how to look, and she wanted to test her skills at observation with an abstract visual puzzle. She focused intently on this task for several days, finally producing an intricately detailed, almost trompe-l’oeil, rendering of a one-inch patch of skin that included a network of criss-crossing lines not visible to the naked eye, punctuated by a small brown birthmark that she had known was there, but never bothered to explore. At the end of this intense period of struggle and reflection, she felt she knew herself better than at any other point in her story.

Nancy drew until she became tired of drawing. Mildred Wirt returned to the publishing house later that week, almost as though she was summoned back by the creative energies of her own creation. With Stratemeyer’s personnel problems solved, Nancy sat down next to her author and began to think about writing.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Nancy drew” isn’t exactly a short story. It’s closer to a piece of conceptual fiction, supported by elements of nonfiction. As some devoted fans of the Nancy Drew series will probably recognize, the references to the Stratemeyer Syndicate and Mildred Wirt’s job action in the early 1930s are based in fact.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart worked as an arts journalist and a media studies researcher before returning to her earliest passion, creative writing, in 2015. Her essays on Canadian, US, and Irish cinema have appeared in books and journals, and she has served as a film and visual arts columnist for two major dailies. Her poetry has appeared in numerous Silver Birch Press series, and she  was named an Emerging Writer for East York in Open Book: Ontario’s 2016 What’s Your Story? competition, which highlighted the work of writers in four neighbourhoods across Toronto. Her short story, “Piano-Player’s Reach,” appeared in an anthology published by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. To find out more about Lee’s work, please visit her website.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at

Author photo by Ron Wadden. 


We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments. Author Stephanie R. Pearmain provided this portrait of herself and collection in  the cactus garden at the University of Arizona, Tucson (October 2016). Stephanie  contributed the poem “My Nancy Drew,” featured below, to the 212-page anthology.

My Nancy Drew
by Stephanie R. Pearmain

Burning beds
Colonial houses with ghosts, spiders’ webs, and secrets
Waiting to be discovered.

     A quest through dark, echoing library halls
     After an eclectic fieldtrip to a hole-in-the-wall bookshop
     To purchase the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Old clocks
That tick like whispers telling the secret of time
While it continues slipping away too silently to hear.

     Summer at the pool,
     The dewy smell of dawn at the beach
     And the promise of endless playful, sunny days.

A record player
Spinning eerie songs beneath a window pried open,
The scent of lilac sneaking in.

     The sound of vinyl
     And Dad’s footsteps upstairs,
     The crackling soundtrack of carefree, lazy days.

And piercing screams,
Cliffside caves and hidden stairs.

A maze of tunnel-like paths
Meandering through a childhood when hours still seemed like
Made up stories in a diary, kept in the safety of the locket
          that is my heart.

A bridge haunted by inevitable truths,
     The crumbling walls of childhood
          Reveal stolen gems and lost telegrams,

A trunk of treasured memories resurfacing
     Beneath a sun casting rays over the dark shadows,
          Giving rise to a woman who stands waving goodbye,

          hieroglyph etchings and a dusty old book
               with a beautifully faded yellow spine.

PHOTO: It’s the cactus garden at the university of Arizona.Tucson, October 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie R. Pearmain received an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hollins University and a BA in Religious Studies and History from the University of Arizona. She teaches courses in Children’s & Young Adult Literature and publishing at the University of Arizona and does freelance editing as well.  She has been a reader for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, a reviewer for Children’s Literature Database (picture books through novels), and is currently a fiction reader for the online literary magazine YARN. Her children’s book, Animal BFFs, was published by Scholastic in 2012, and a personal essay was published in an anthology by Spruce Mountain Press the same year. She is founder of the new online children’s lit publication Tucson Tales.. Visit her at

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


Chicago-area book lovers — join six authors who contributed their work to the Nancy Drew Anthology as they read from the collection on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois. Readers include organizer Cynthia Todd Quam, along with Steve Bogdaniec, Jennifer Finstrom, Jessie Keary, Elizabeth Kerper, and Patrick T. Reardon, A big thank you to Century & Sleuths Bookstore — and owner Augie Aleksy — for hosting the event!

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, 7-10 p.m. (CST)

WHERE: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St., Forest Park, IL, 60130. 708-771-7243

WHAT: Readings from the Nancy Drew Anthology by six contributors —  Steve Bogdaniec, Jennifer Finstrom, Jessie Keary, Elizabeth Kerper, Cynthia Todd Quam, and  Patrick T. Reardon! Get your autographed copy at the event!

We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments. Author Anne Borne provided this portrait of herself and the collection from the ever-wonderful New York City. Anne contributed the story “It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library” (featured below)  to the 212-page anthology.

It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library
by Anne Born

It’s easy to identify the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls mysteries as my favorite children’s adventure stories. When I read those little books, I wanted to be the one with the answer, the one to solve the crime, the one to show the grownups that this teen could do it. These girls were resourceful and clever. What’s interesting to me now is that, for the life of me, I cannot recall a single episode, and I couldn’t name more than one title. I do not remember just exactly what these plucky heroines accomplished. What I do remember is my cousin Diane.

Diane was much older than me. She was a child of the 1940s whose father served in WWII. She spent countless hours with my grandparents and her aunt and uncle, laying a foundation of trust and love for all of the cousins to follow. We all knew that we were important, and we knew that our family had something special—and a good bit of that came from the first cousin on the scene: Diane.

I came to know Nancy Drew because Diane collected the books. As far as I can remember, it was a complete set. I could borrow them, read them one at a time or a couple at a go, and return them to her collection. But it was never about the plot of the books, it was that Diane could read and when she did, she did it up in style. I could take books out of the town public library certainly, and I did that nearly every week I was in school. But Diane had a library and that was exciting to me.

Because my family did not have a budget line for book buying or the means to get to bookstores very often, and because I spent so much time at the library, I have only a dozen or so books from my childhood. I do not have all the great pirate books that I loved. I don’t have the stories of Pompeii that I remember so clearly. And I don’t have the Nancy Drew books. I vowed that when I had my own children, I would buy them books instead of just taking them to the library. I wanted them to know what Diane must have known, that there is tremendous comfort in being in a library, but there is something so much more powerful in owning a library.

Diane left us a few years ago. She had a heart ailment that would take her from us way too soon. In writing this, I am sad she doesn’t know the lifelong impact her choice in teen fiction had on me. I want her to know that her collecting Nancy Drew and Dana Girl mysteries, and sharing them the way she did, instilled in me a love of libraries as well as a love of a great mystery story. My library has books about everything!

I’m reading my own copy of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey now with my book club and even though it does not feature a boyfriend with a slick convertible or helpful aunts and uncles, it does remind me of the debt I owe to my cousin Diane. It’s great to have a library card, but it’s even better to have a library.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus (2014), Prayer Beads on the Train (2015), and Waiting on a Platform (2016). She is the editor of the award-winning anthology of stories from The Late Orphan Project —  These Winter Months.  (2016). Anne is a regular contributor on The Broad Side, and her essay on Hillary Clinton’s religious faith was included in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox  (2015), edited by Joanne Bamberger. Her work has been published in the Newtown Literary Journal and in “Me, as a Child,” “All About My Name,” and “My Prized Possession,” Poetry & Prose Series published by Silver Birch Press. Anne’s essay on her cousin’s collection of Nancy Drew novels was published in the Silver Birch Press Nancy Drew Anthology (2016). Her poetry has been featured in New York at Boundless Tales, Word Up Community Bookstore, and the Queens Council on the Arts. She has been a featured performer in several venues with Inspired Word NYC, at the New York Transit Museum, on Queens Public TV in “The World of Arts,” and with the International Women’s Salon on Salon Radio. Anne divides her time between New York and Michigan, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Follow Anne Born and The Late Orphan Project at The Backpack Press, and on TwitterRedbubbleWattpad, andInstagram @nilesite. Listen to her in the Bronx podcasts on Our Salon Radio.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is me at the subway station in my neighborhood, the beautiful South Bronx. Snapped by a girl walking by who saw me balancing my cell phone and the book. She says, “Wow! I love Nancy Drew!” So I gave her the book.


We are pleased to announce the October 2016 release of our NANCY DREW ANTHOLOGY: Writing & Art Featuring Everybody’s Favorite Female Sleuth. The 212-page collection features poetry, prose, and drawings inspired by Nancy Drew from 97 writers and artists from around the world.

Since her 1930 appearance in The Secret of the Old Clock, amateur sleuth Nancy Drew has inspired generations of girls with her moxie, intelligence, determination, and independence. We’ve created the NANCY DREW ANTHOLOGY to celebrate this female icon and role model who after nearly 90 years is as popular as ever.

Participants in the NANCY DREW ANTHOLOGY include:  Kathleen Aguero, Kimmy Alan, E. Kristin Anderson, Amanda Arkebauer, Roberta Beary, Sujoy Bhattacharya, Julie E. Bloemeke, Steve Bogdaniec, Anne Born, Tanya Bryan, Kathy Burkett, Bill Capossere, Sylvia Cavanaugh, Tricia Marcella Cimera, Ellen Cohen, Christine Collier, Linda Crosfield, Ashini J. Desai, Kristina England, Paul Fericano, Jennifer Finstrom, Jennifer Fisher, Deirdre Flint, Lea Shangraw Fox, Linda McCauley Freeman, Shivapriya Ganapathy, Erica Gerald Mason, Vijaya Gowrisankar, Geosi Gyasi, Maureen Hadzick-Spisak, Kathleen M. Heideman, Jennifer Hernandez, Kathleen Hogan, Juleigh Howard-Hobson, Mark Hudson, Mathias Jansson, Alice-Catherine Jennings, Jessie Keary, Elizabeth Kerper, Phyllis Klein, Tricia Knoll, Laurie Kolp, Jennifer Lagier, Kathleen Lawrence, Jenna Le, Joan Leotta, Kristie Betts Letter, Lorette C. Luzajic, Marieta Maglas, Ksenya Makarova, Shahé Mankerian, Susan Martinello, Karen Massey, Cathy McArthur, Nancy McCabe, Catfish McDaris, Patricia McGoldrick, Michelle McMillan-Holifield, Carolina Morales, Lylanne Musselman, Kaitlynn Nichol, Sarah Nichols, Faye Pantazopoulos, Lee Parpart, Stephanie R. Pearmain, James Penha, David Perlmutter, Robert Perret, Anna Pesnell, Jessica Purdy, Cynthia Todd Quam, Patrick T. Reardon, Nancy Reddy, Luisa Kay Reyes, Jeannie E. Roberts, Stephen D. Rogers, M.A. Scott, Shloka Shankar, Sheikha A., Sogol Shirazi, Donna JT Smith, Hilary A. Smith, Massimo Soranzio, Elizabeth Stark, Virginia Chase Sutton, Dorothy Swoope, Shrehya Taneja, Marjorie Tesser, Marion Tickner, Melanie Villines, Sarah Broussard Weaver, Mercedes Webb-Pullman, A. Garnett Weiss, Lin Whitehouse, Martin Willitts Jr, Marilyn Zelke-Windau.


Cover art by Elizabeth Stark.

Congratulations to fellow blogger Vickie Lester at Beguiling Hollywood on the May 2013 release of her first novel It’s in His Kiss.

BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON): Hollywood. The Dream Factory A camera-ready world of fantasy fulfilled, artifice and bone-deep glamour — or a place of dark reality, depthless closets, failed love, false prophets and untimely death. Anne Brown must find where the truth lies. Truth. Lies. It’s in his kiss. Vickie Lester has written the ultimate Hollywood insider murder-mystery with gasp-worthy plot twists and plenty of delicious, naughty moments. It’s in His Kiss roams from the dark underbelly of Palm Springs to the power canyons of Hollywood. Everyone has a secret: once-wealthy moguls, studio executives with double lives, wry East Coast novelists plunged into intrigue, uneasily blended families and a certain church that likes to keep its movie colony types in check. A must read that you won’t want to put down until its final brilliant conclusion.

Find It’s in His Kiss by Vickie Lester at

by W.H. Auden

For who is ever quite without his landscape,
The straggling village street, the house in trees,
All near the church, or else the gloomy town house,
The one with the Corinthian pillars, or
The tiny workmanlike flat: in any case
A home, the centre where the three or four things
that happen to a man do happen? Yes,
Who cannot draw the map of his life, shade in
The little station where he meets his loves
And says good-bye continually, and mark the spot
Where the body of his happiness was first discovered?
An unknown tramp? A rich man? An enigma always
And with a buried past but when the truth,
The truth about our happiness comes out
How much it owed to blackmail and philandering.
The rest’s traditional. All goes to plan:
The feud between the local common sense
And that exasperating brilliant intuition
That’s always on the spot by chance before us;
All goes to plan, both lying and confession,
Down to the thrilling final chase, the kill.
Yet on the last page just a lingering doubt:
That verdict, was it just? The judge’s nerves,
That clue, that protestation from the gallows,
And our own smile . . . why yes . . .
But time is always killed. Someone must pay for
Our loss of happiness, our happiness itself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wystan Hugh Auden (1907–1973), who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, later an American citizen, regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature. (Read more at

Illustration: From L.A. Noire video game, available at