Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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The Warrior Mother

Ben and Frances Richey

Ben and Frances Richey

Awhile back, I attended a reading hosted by the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence program, featuring Frances Richey. She introduced herself as a yoga teacher and poet, a nice coupling of professions. When she revealed that she worked in the corporate world for two decades, I was taken back. When she revealed that she wrote a book of poems for her son on duty at Iraq, and after reading a selection, I almost doubled over – in front of me that night was a mother with a passionate heart, and a poet who definitely knew how to write.

Richey had first started to write poetry when she began volunteering at a hospital in New York City. At the time, she was a single mother raising a son, Ben. She gave us a highlight of their lives together – their differing political viewpoints, their differing social viewpoints, all the way up to when he graduated from the military academy West Point, and was sent on duty to Iraq. His absence introduced a void in her life that Richey decided to fill with yoga teaching and poetry. Her latest collection, The Warrior, is dedicated to her son, and is filled with pages of powerful stories all pertaining to her experiences with Ben and on occasion, her family.

Richey has won several prestigious awards for her poetry, and much of her work has been showcased in popular publications. She composed poetry for her experiences as a hospital volunteer, something she shared with the audience that night as well. A highlight that I would like to touch upon, is how mother and child eventually learned to overcome all of their differences – it was a very heartwarming ending to the story. Her son is still serving, having done two tours of Iraq already, and Richey continues to write and hope for his safety.