The Amazing Grace Paley:
Vermont's Poetic Conscience
It wasn't easy for Thetford writer Grace Paley to find time for this interview. Nearing 85, Paley has been fighting breast cancer for a number of years and, the month before, she'd finished a new round of chemotherapy. Yet she and poet husband, Bob Nichols, had just collaborated on a new book, Here and Somewhere Else, out the same week I visited. She looked thinner than when I last saw her, but put me at ease, beginning our talk the way women often do: she admired my sweater.
I complimented her beret, worn at a jaunty angle, and she took it off to show me how short her hair is now, and darker - no longer snowy white. "It's beginning to grow back now," she said, running her hand over her head. "I was bald." Blunt, her voice still hails from the Bronx, edged with kindliness.
Paley first began spending summers in Vermont in the early 1970s. I asked her how she liked living here now, a place still snowy in April, and so different from her home town. "I feel lucky to be here," she answered. "But I was lucky to live in New York City, too. Both places are so different and both exciting to me. I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't had both these places."
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