Sarah Russell

I was lucky enough to stumble across Sarah Russell’s poetry on Goodreads a little while back and she has been wowing me ever since. While the thoughts behind many of her poems are deep and complex, Sarah has a way of drawing the reader in and making them feel comfortable. Her use of language is clever without being obscure and her images leap off the page. Sarah often delivers a powerful punch near the end of a poem in such a way that it doesn’t fully hit home until after the poem is finished. I am frequently reminded of the grace and style of Ted Kooser’s writing while reading Sarah’s poetry. But don’t take my word for it, head on over to and experience the magic for yourself. In the meantime, please enjoy:


                                      On the Île de la Cité,
a heartbeat away from Notre Dame,
souvenirs, tour buses,
old men fish.

                                      Every morning,
smelling of garlic and yesterday’s catch,
they bring square wicker baskets,
dulled by years of grime,
with lunch, bait, and bottles
filled and recorked at the marchand du vin.
They mark the days wedging those corks
in the seawall crags –
hundreds of corks to use as bobbers
or simply to say

                                      Pierre, Guillaume,
Jean-Luc were here, ate fromage
and saucisson, threw crumbs to pigeons,
heads and guts to feral cats
who rubbed against their cuffs,
spoke of youth or war
or nothing at all,
and fished.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Poppy Road Review, June, 2014


Name: Sarah Russell
Age: 71
Location: winters, State College, PA; summers, the Colorado mountains

Influences: Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Danny Earl Simmons, Katherine Bode-Lang, Mather Schneider — writers who don’t obfuscate the telling.

Inspiration for this poem: I lived in Paris when I was 19 and go back to visit every decade or so. On our latest trip, my husband and I were picnicking on the quai near Notre Dame when he pointed out a rock wall with corks crammed in every nook and cranny. I had never noticed it before. It didn’t take long for the poem to happen.


Bio: I returned to writing poetry after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. I can attest that poetry is more fun. Publications in The Houseboat, Misfit Magazine, Poppy Road Review, Bijou Poetry Review, among others, upcoming in Red River Review, and several anthologies. Winner of the Goodreads poetry contest in February, 2014. Poetry editor for Voices newspaper and Pastiche magazine, local publications in Centre County, PA. I highly recommend retirement and grandchildren. My six, in case you were wondering, are exceptional.

Copyright for the above poem and image remains the sole property of Sarah Russell.

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