Meet Poet Lee Woodman
ARTSCAPES is a 2023 Independent Press Award winner for Distinguished Favorite in Poetry. See the Interview
Lee’s poem “Orca Ode” won first prize in the 2022 Prose & Poetry Contest POETRY category at Carve Magazine, published online in Summer 2023. Read the Poem
“Recompose” won Honorable Mention in Tulip Tree Publishing’s Anthology, Stories That Need to be Told, 2023. Watch the video
Winner of the Atlantic Review 2021 International Poetry Contest Merit Award! Read the Poem
My New England parents wanted to see the world, which gave me a childhood in India and France. Our family was passionate about art, dance, and learning just about anything: Dad worked in education for the State Department and the Ford Foundation, and Mom started her own ballet school. My literary career got its start with family newspapers and plays produced in the driveway with my sisters.
An undergraduate degree in Art and French and a graduate degree in Art Education led to teaching and performance in dance and drama groups. Next came a career in radio, television and film production. I was an early adopter of the Internet and interactive media.
I served as Manager of Multimedia and Executive Producer at the Smithsonian Institution, Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Museum of American History, President of Lee Woodman Media, Inc., and VP of Media and Editorial at K-12, Inc., an online education company.
Now I have found the perfect medium for combining all my interests: Poetry!
I write poems to turn sound and images into emotion and story, and to share with fellow human beings the surprising turns our lives take. I use forms from traditional to contemporary—sestina, sonnet, villanelle, free verse and narrative. Scents, tastes, and textures inspire me.
I search and struggle to understand the territory of the heart, the fascination of nature, love, longing, fear, and rage. A moon, a turtle, a conversation with a mystic, a reggae lyric— all provide image and metaphor for considering what it means to be alive. Poetry can remind us all that fantasy and beauty—no matter how strange or different—can be found in unexplored alleys and unexpected corners.
Our recent global crisis makes us ponder threats we can’t see and mysteries we don’t understand, all the while reminding us to cherish memories of things we once loved.
I am grateful to colleagues, friends, and publishers for cheering me on.
My first full poetry collection, Mindscapes, was published by Poets’ Choice Publishing in 2020, and Homescapes by Finishing Line Press the same year. Kelsay Books published Lifescapes in June 2021 and Shanti Arts published Artscapes in January 2022.
My poems have appeared in Tiferet Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, vox poetica, The New Guard Review, The Concord Monitor, Naugatuck River Review, Hill Rag, Broadkill Review, and Carvezine. I was a Pushcart nominee and received the 2020 William Meredith Prize for Poetry, the 2021 Atlantic Review International Poetry Contest MERIT AWARD, and the 2023 IPA Award for Distinguished Favorite in Poetry.
* “The serenity, clarity, precision and beauty of Lee’s poetry is even more apparent when she reads her work aloud. I’ve often left her live events floating on air.”
Amy Kotkin, DC Metro Theater Arts Journalist and former Director of Smithsonian Journeys
* “Lee’s poetry is so incredibly beautiful, insightful, moving (and more!) on the page. And then to hear her spectacular readings of such meticulously crafted words, while explaining the context behind each of her “scapes” books – makes me cherish them all the more. She’s an unforgettably powerful poet and performer.”
Mary Beth K., MBK Productions, public media, network television, and podcasting
* “In Mindscapes, Lee Woodman gives us a higher world of myth, magic, fairytale and daily life. The exterior world and the interior life come together—mind and heart—perfectly matched with elegant speech, deep knowing, and an imagination dusted by stars. By any description, Woodman’s imagery will stay with you long after the book is put away. And then, you’ll want to read it again. This award-winning poetry announces a bright new literary light among us.”
Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
* “Lee’s numerous poetry publications are a testament to her unique voice and willingness to delve into the pain, joy, and humor of her own experiences. She plays with form and language to create poems that are both timeless and of our times. I am in awe of Lee’s ability to conjure the familiar through specific sensory details and to shift our perspective to reveal something new……She teaches amazing poetry workshops, offers sage advice, and brings encouragement and support to the writing community.”
Lisa Lowry, founder of The Writer’s Passage, Falls Church, VA
* “Lee’s poems are emotionally complex, rhythmically aware, and wide-ranging in terms of content……She pushes beyond what is comfortable and probes into delicate subjects deeply.”
Sue Ellen Thompson, author of “Sea Nettles,” and instructor at The Writer’s Center, Bethesda, MD
* “Lee’s poetry examines the world around her with the critical eye of an observer and then without hesitation pulls the reader into the complexity of her reactions and emotions. Her personal experiences are both exotic and universal.”
Virginia Rice, Executive, Non-profit Strategy, Human-Centered Design
* “LEE Woodman’s poems speak to me. They describe in simple visual language everyday moments— a memory, a profile, a place, a piece of art. My favorite is “Sorrow” about a pigeon’s nest on a window sill. These are poems that touch the heart with joy, wisdom and truth.”
Shelley Lowenstein, artist, Touchstone Gallery, Washington, DC
* “One of the most remarkable poems in Artscapes is “Mark Rothko, I challenge Your Claim.”The poem unfolds masterfully—but it is a mastery that is not off-putting, but engaging; we are inside the eyes of the poet and then inside the paintings themselves. We experience the textures and colors and deepening dimensions of emotion and thought as we stand before the Rothkos……. We need poets like Lee Woodman. They help us see in new ways: they teach us to look closely and to frame what we see ad then to look again, to test our vision, to stand back from what we see and then to enter it immediately again. Here is a poet we can trust.”
Christopher Bursk, Guggenheim and National Endowment Fellow, winner of Donald Hall Poetry Prize, poet and award-winning professor at Bucks County, PA
* “I was fortunate to have Lee in our lovely boutique space in Washington, DC to conduct a poetry reading of her book, Lifescapes. Lifescapes is a journey of a woman who faced adversities including a divorce while navigating her new life in the midst of a pandemic. It’s a lovely take of one’s resilience and a reminder that it’s never too late to re-invent yourself and to truly live life with meaning and purpose.”
Anne Marie Johnson, founder of Bitter Grace DC, a lifestyle boutique and community space on Capitol Hill
* “Lee Woodman’s beautifully crafted poems tell stories that are entertaining, honest and self-revealing. Her awareness of priceless moments and her sense of humor make her poetry compelling and entertaining. Though Lee’s poems are often drawn directly from her own experiences, the reader is often right there with her.”
Randy Wynn, former Deputy Executive Director, Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, DC
* “Lee Woodman speaks to the heart as well as to the mind in every one of her poems. You don’t have to be a poet or have studied poetry to be moved and transported by her gorgeous imagery, sensitive topics, and empathetic phrasing.”
Madeleine Jacobs, former CEO, American Chemical Society, DC
Orca Ode (from Soulscapes)
—inspired by “The 17th Day,” a short story by Christina Cogswell,
telling that 75 % of orca calves died in the Salish Sea, Puget Sound,
in 2018, due to PCBs from shipyards, manufacturing, slaughter houses,
and Superfund clean-up sites
The world always begins in the ocean,
in many seas around the globe, as moonlight moves across water
And Tahlequah, resident orca J-35, swam for seventeen days in Salish, pushing her
dead newborn. She would not let her baby’s body, 400 pounds heavy, sink
Breathing for Tahlequah was a conscious act—she had to come to the surface for air
every twelve minutes; she nosed her daughter’s limp body up with her
This was her “Tour of Grief,” but she did not go it alone. For millions of years,
orcas have lived in matrilineal pods, with an elder female guiding
A group of five or six surrounded her. Not the only one to push the body, they took
turns. On the seventeenth day, Tahlequah dropped the baby, went to the top for air
She let her calf be reclaimed by the sea’s blue womb, let it drift away.
The rest stayed with her at the surface, dipping and rising in mourning
A tightknit group, they circled in harmony,
directly centered in a moonbeam, even as it moved across the waves
- IPA (Independent Press Award) for Distinguished Favorite in Poetry 2023
- Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship March 2022
- Atlanta Review 2021 International Poetry Merit Award
- William Meredith Prize for Poetry 2020
- Pushcart Nominee 2018 for “City Square” in The New Guard
- Individual Poetry Fellowship, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities FY 2019
- Individual Poetry Fellowship, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities FY 2020
- Radio and TV Awards: Writer/Producer, five CINEs, two NY International Film Blue Ribbons,
- Three Gracies from American Women in Radio and Television, Ohio State Award, Columbus Chris Award, CINDY Award. Multimedia: Nebraska Interactive Blue Ribbon, USA Today Hotpick Website, Yahoo Outstanding Website
- M.A. Art Education, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Connecticut
- B.A. Art (Studio and History), Minor (French), Colby College, Waterville, Maine
- Junior Year Abroad, l’Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie, University of Paris, France
KIRKUS INTERVIEW WITH SARAH RETTGER
RODGER NICHOLS KYYT
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