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Anne Yarbrough

New Castle

Anne Yarbrough Headshot 2023
Anne Yarbrough

Literature: Poetry

By: Gail Obenreder

At the beginning of 2019, I began a disciplined writing life. Every poem is a challenge, but the challenge itself is the joy.”

Poet Anne Yarbrough has been “an occasional writer of poetry” her entire adult life, but when she focused more strongly on her artistic practice several years ago, her relationship to the craft of writing underwent a change. Feeling she needed to read more poetry – and more about the craft – she began to mine the resources of Delaware’s public libraries, something for which she’s enormously grateful.

Yarbrough grew up far from the First State – in Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, Texas – with her parents, two siblings and “a dog named Joe.” A solitary child, she liked to memorize poetry (especially that of T.S. Eliot) as she walked to and from school each day. As an adult, she and her husband lived and worked in Washington, DC for thirty years, but in the early 1990s, they began coming to Delaware – to Rehoboth Beach.

Advent Fox (2019)

You were waiting for something, curled quiet

on your side, just above the river’s tideline.


Had lain down there alone and then

waited so long the dry winter grass tangled

your bones and you were hard to prise away


from the earth, your natural grave, which I did

anyway. The lines of your sinews not

yet unknotted by the slow mouths of beetles.


We had to speed things along with

violence, then long warm baths

of hydrogen peroxide and bleach, and even then


we had to wait forever while your stubborn cords dissolved


until you were transformed to

this glorious gleaming skull.

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They then moved to Milton in the early 2000s and – after living in Manhattan and Canada in the interim – returned to Delaware in 2016. Now a New Castle resident, Yarbrough follows the advice of the German poet Rilke, who felt that you should “go out into the evening, leaving your room . . .  your house is the last before the infinite.” So each day, Yarbrough goes out from her Delaware River home, “hoping to touch the shadow of this wafting, constantly morphing infinitude.”

As a writer, she is “drawn to the use of form and structure, though . . . I like it best when my framework is a bit off-kilter.” Due to her wide-ranging reading and myriad poetic inspirations – Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A.E. Stallings – Yarbrough’s work, though contemporary in focus, is also filled with classical and Biblical allusions. Her series Six Poems on the Delaware City Oil Refinery (submitted as part of her Fellowship application) aptly illustrates the balance she works to achieve.

Often her greatest reward in the writing process is seeing where “the initial half-formed beginning” will go – “the hint of an idea floating off a scent of decay, for instance, or in a bird’s wing lying on the grass.” Over her career, Yarbrough has also taken art classes (at Hunter College in New York City and DCAD in Wilmington), and finds that those studio experiences have enriched and informed her poems’ visual and descriptive elements.

The Division’s Emerging Artist Fellowship comes at a particularly apt time in her artistic practice, both as encouragement and because it allows her to access needed resources to take workshops or seek out individual critiques. She also hopes to publish a chapbook, and should that go forward, the award will provide needed resources for printing and distribution. In every way, Yarbrough finds that the Fellowship “has already removed obstacles to my writing stronger poetry. It’s like the sudden appearance of a fairy godmother!”

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