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Poet Colleen McElroy On Choosing "What Stays Here"

Colleen McElroy
Photo Credit/Ingrid Papp-Sheldon

In her poem "What Stays Here," Colleen McElroy imagines life as a female soldier who must choose between loyalty to herself, and loyalty to a military code that says "keep quiet" and "get along." Like many of the poems in McElroy's ninth collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) the poem awakens us to voices and stories we might otherwise never hear with such intimacy and power.

McElroy received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for "Queen of the Ebony Isles" (1984). Her 2007 collection, "Sleeping With the Moon" won the PEN Oakland National Literary Award. She is professor emeritus of English and Creative Writing at the University of Washington. McElroy became the institution's first black woman promoted to full professor in the early 1980's.  She was recorded in the KUOW Studios on Feb. 1, 2013.