Columbus Avenue On the Night of the Lunar Eclipse
Margaret Szumowski grew up in Winterset, Iowa, the oldest of seven children. She learned to tap dance and twirl a fire baton -- an experience that required wrapping the end of the baton in asbestos, dipping it in kerosene, then lighting it and hoping for the best. Twirling with fire and breathing the freezing air at football games led her to poetry. She graduated from the University of Iowa and shortly thereafter took off for the Peace Corps and served in the Congo and Ethiopia. As a hostage in Uganda, she had the distinction of having her photo taken by Idi Amin - a sort of keepsake for him. Szumowski received her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, and at the end of her orals with Jim Tate, she commented on how much she enjoyed the program. Tate's response: "Even more than being a hostage of Idi Amin?" accompanied by that great laugh of his. Szumowski is currently Associate Professor of English at Springfield Technical Community College. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Willow Springs, American Poetry Review, Poetry East, The Agni Review, River Styx, as well as in a chapbook, Ruby's Cafe. Her first book-length collection of poetry, I Want This World, was published by Jeffrey Levine of Tupelo Press. She is the winner of the 2002 Peace Corps Writers prize for poetry.