Laurie Byro







A Casket for Roger Fry


Art is significant deformity.  Roger Fry.


I will not forget her hands

when she traced her love-words onto my shoulders,

So suitably now my life is over,

That I am quietly hers.


When she traced her love-words onto my shoulders

I saw an honest man pass before my eyes.

My life is over, that I am quietly hers.

I tried to tell her there and then.


My kingdom, all my paintings for this touch.

So suitably now my life is over.

I tried to tell her there and then

I will not forget her hands.


She brought me garlands, rain and snowy kisses

and painted sunny days that we had seen.

I filled the night with us and all our wishes.

The days and nights dissolved upon our tongue.


She painted sunny days that we had seen.

A kind of daring,   a perpetual daydream.

The days and nights dissolved upon our tongue.

Her brush was her magic, she painted me holy.


A kind of daring, a perpetual daydream.

I filled the night with us and all our wishes.

Her brush was her magic, she painted me holy.

She brought me garlands, rain and snowy kisses.




Leonard Woolf’s Heaven


One must be crucified on one’s private cross.  Leonard Woolf


Even my lifetime hand tremor, marked me somehow chosen

to fulfill an understudy’s role in their petty dramas.


I was always essential to them, though not as driven by a spark

of divine fire by those wise virgins.  Someone told me once


I looked like an old Testament prophet, so I picked Elijah,

not bad for an atheist.  For me heaven was an unruly Ceylon


jungle,  that messy bride’s bed.  Like my love for Virginia,

the jungle surged forward and blotted the walls of their huts.


It made our lives less important for the whole.  My love-breath

was hot and heavy, an animal thrashing through shrubs and bushes,


trees.  The disorder of the jungle was like madness, thorns

and creepers suffocating rice-fields and healthy soil.  If it had


not been for love, we would have hardly mattered.  If it had not been

for me, she would have sacrificed herself sooner than she did.




Stones for the Apostles


Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death.  Virginia Woolf


There were stones for skimming, they parted the watery sheets

of her suicide like the palms of God, she had rehearsed them


for years, practicing their music. She summoned them like

tongues of the apostles as they announced her arrival.   Like God,


she had chosen a Jew; she didn’t believe in him exactly. Stones

beckoned her through these gates of the sacred Jews.  She employed


them like soldiers, heavy and round, beautiful as spring potatoes,

she’d divide them into each pocket, there were always plenty to share.


This river kneaded them like bread, she would leave a trail.  As she sank down

deeper into the brackish waters of her imagination, down down,


touching bottom at last, she planted them like a nest of eggs.  They were

gorgeous,  a man’s hidden body.  This terror of the unknown, only took


her under for moments, this cool lover’s embrace, she had anticipated

this end her entire life.  She is a vessel emptying herself of words,


the burden of her skin, the first awkward sentence, a last vowel

escaping her mouth churning to the surface of the River Ouse.


How beautiful she shudders. My soul now this river, free at last.












With The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities Laurie Byro combines intellectual firepower, wit, and mischievous wisdom to earn her place in poetry’s memory. Here, a new calculus for the Bloomsbury set is refreshed by energy, imagination, along with natural strengths of craft and metrics. I love these characters recreated; I love reading their stories as they chase each line to new poetic mythologies. In ‘Other Curiosities’ Byro unleashes her true anarchism, turning fairytale to reality. This book is a starship with history and fantasy blasted to brilliance. It’s the promise made,  that poetry will always be on our side— soul, heart , intelligence— blown out of dark, landing right in our laps, just when we need it the most.

Grace Cavalieri, Producer

“The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress.”


Laurie Byro’s lyrical collection offers a tour of art’s afterlife, with a particular focus on haunted modernism. In The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities, Virginia Woolf sings to the stones that will fill her pockets, Hart Crane makes an “epistle” of himself, and forests remember fictional heroes out of D.H. Lawrence. When she isn’t looking upward at literature’s “dandelion stars”—that is, in more personal poems also included here—Byro casts vivid spells against loss, reminding us that poetry is an art of memory, and of transformation.

-Lesley Wheeler, author of Radioland


With literary insouciance and metrical verve, Laurie Byro makes her debut with The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities.  Arranged like a diptych, the first half of the book opens with the Bloomsbury cast.  Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Dora Carrington, plus D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot, make guest appearances in Byro’s witty, sensuous, thoughtful, flippant, but dead serious poems.  In the “other curiosities” half of her lyrical, piquant book, Byro explores art and artists in elegant stanzas written from, of, and to contemporary poets and poems.  With the wry, dry love notes of The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities. this poet practices a sublime ekphrasis.

Molly Peacock

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