Remembering astra

ASTRA BLAUG died peacefully on May 5th. astra, as she preferred to be known, was an artist, photographer, poet, feminist and eternal campaigner. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, among them One Foot on the Mountain, Hard Feelings  and Bread and Roses (Virago). There are also three published collections of her work, fighting words; battle cries and older and bolder. She was born in Manhattan in 1927 and is the mother of two sons. She  lived in London since 1962.

Third Age Press was proud to produce older and bolder and to re-print back you come, mother dear. As a tribute to her visual artistry she insisted on the poems being set in a very particular way which no doubt enhanced the cadence and power of the words but occasionally drove her editor to distraction! The details of how to obtain both books (although there are a limited number of copies still available) can be found by going to our ‘Buy Books’ section and accessing ‘poems’.

back you come, mother dear offers an eloquent elegy to her mother — and act of courage in the face of pain. Here are memories, disagreements, ambivalences, misgivings – and finally forgivings: ‘I wanted her/never to leave/me/that day/any day/ever’ until the time when she ‘cast me out/before I acted on her deepest fear/and left’. Their life together was not easy: the fact of being poor and Jewish in East Coast America and a succession of smaller, cheaper rooms meant that ‘growing up was better in the movies’. In a quiet, cumulative way, this valuable collection gives voice to the complex feelings between mothers and daughters.

City sunshine (is one of her shorter poems that exudes the peace that we hope she’s found)

Julia ageing                                                                                                                                    on park benches                                                                                                                               facing lean and blemished trees                                                                                                    muses on less lonely times

face upturned                                                                                                                                eyes closed                                                                                                                                    she suns herself