Sharon Cumberland uses letters written by her father, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, while he was a Sloan Fellow at M.I.T. to construct poems in his voice as he reviews the course of his life, his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his relationships with his family members.
FOUND IN A LETTER: 1959 begins with longing and mortality—two constant realities for those impacted by military service—and moves through their evolution. Longing leads to a fuller understanding of what we love in each other and in our families. And the more time we spend with our own mortality, the more we realize we must simultaneously protect it as we prepare to surrender it at a moment’s notice.
“Brava, Sharon Cumberland, for FOUND IN A LETTER 1959, an original and inventive collection based on a trove of her father’s actual letters that chronicle the family’s life stories from her Dad’s military service and beyond. With wit and resourcefulness, Cumberland has found a worthy voice to inhabit in her father’s often eloquent letters to his dying father, revealing a plethora of evocative, mid century markers: slide rules, Martini parties with pigs in a blanket, measles, lipstick, Shalimar! These poems are a witness to history—her own as well as mid-century America’s. This book is nothing short of marvelous.”
Nancy Schoenberger, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters
Sharon Cumberland is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle University, where she directed the Creative Writing Program and taught poetry writing and American literature. She has published scholarly work in orality and literacy studies, new media, and fan fiction. She spent her first sabbatical year in the Media Studies Program at M.I.T. Her chapbooks are The Arithmetic of Mourning from Green Rock Press, Sharon Cumberland Greatest Hits from Pudding House Publications and, with Denis Caswell, CCausmwbeelrlland, from Floating Bridge Press. Her poetry books are Peculiar Honors and Strange with Age, both from Black Heron Press. Her poems have been widely published, and she has won many awards and residencies. She lives in Shoreline, Washington with her husband, the scholar, editor, and letterpress printer James T. Jones.