Maryann Corbett, ‘Dissonance’

We dress ourselves
from the Goodwill store
since Art has kept us
genteelly poor
and we laugh together
at how we’ve slummed
amid vocalises
and arias hummed
and the mirth for both of us
seemed sincere
so I joked, where others
would overhear,
about our finds
in the plaids and prints

and saw you wince.


Maryann Corbett writes: “Perhaps every poem that seems to portray one small moment is really a goulash of hundreds of moments. That’s certainly true of ‘Dissonance‘. There really was a friend who was a fellow singer, fellow poet, and fellow fan of the bargains to be found in charity shops. And there really was an awkward moment when I misjudged her feelings about artistic penury, a penury I’d escaped in a very un-artistic job. But folded into the writing of the poem were all my student years, years when I was much younger, much poorer, and much more in solidarity with friends still following their dreams.”

Dissonance‘ was first published in Mezzo Cammin, and gave its name to a 2009 chapbook collection published by Scienter Press.

Maryann Corbett earned a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota in 1981 and expected to be teaching Beowulf and Chaucer and the history of the English language. Instead, she spent almost thirty-five years working for the Office of the Revisor of Statutes of the Minnesota Legislature, helping attorneys to write in plain English and coordinating the creation of finding aids for the law. She returned to writing poetry after thirty years away from the craft in 2005 and is now the author of two chapbooks and five full-length collections. Her work has won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award, has appeared in many journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and is included in anthologies like Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and The Best American Poetry. Her sixth book, The O in the Air, is forthcoming from Franciscan University Press.

Photo: “Goodwill outlet store” by sparr0 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


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