Poet’s Spotlight: Virginia Corrie-Cozart

Virginia Corrie Cozart
Virginia Corrie Cozart


As their wings dry
out of the chrysalises,
the party’s hostess uncurls
their long tongues
with a thin stick,
introduces them to molasses
under gauze.
That’s how they learn
with butterfly intelligence
to locate substitute narcissus.
Now, one sips from the edge
of the punch bowl.
Another lights on Bridey’s hair,
then Terence’s shoulder.
An orange and black magic show
skitters through the rooms.
When they stay too long
at the party and miss
migration by a cold snap,
they are sent by U.S. Postal Service
in a brown padded mailer
to a eucalyptus
on the Monterey Peninsula.

Virginia  Corrie-Cozart reading at the 2011 Northwest Poets’ Concord Photo by Ellen Hamill

About the Poem

The phenomenon of monarch migration from the northwestern U.S. to a small area of eucalyptus groves in southern California is now widely known, but Virginia Corrie-Cozart’s “Monarchs” translates that knowledge into a whimsical vision, rich in delightful particulars. To create such magic, the poet must have absorbed a bit of “butterfly intelligence.” This poem was selected by Matthew Dickman for first place in the free verse category of OPA’s fall 2010 contest and published in Verseweavers 15.


About the Poet

An Oregon native who grew up on a dairy farm near Bandon, Virginia Corrie-Cozart lived in Salem from the early 1970s until her death from cancer this past summer. Accomplished in music and visual art as well as in poetry, she retained a deep attachment to the southern Oregon coast, which inspired much of her painting and writing.

After raising three children and earning a Master’s of Music from OSU, she taught music in the Salem public schools and took poetry workshops with William Stafford, Christopher Howell, Tom Crawford, and others. Since her retirement from teaching, she and her husband, David Cozart, shared their mutual love of all the arts both in travel and at home in Oregon.

Long active in OSPA/OPA, Virginia served a term on the board, was a member of the committee that maintains the Oregon Poetry Collection at the State Library, and co-founded and co-chaired the Mid-Valley Poetry Society, OPA’s Salem-area unit. In Salem, she also participated in a poetry critique group, the Peregrine Writers.

Her poetry has been published in various Oregon periodicals and won awards in OSPA/OPA contests as well as receiving the Ben Hur Lampman prize, given jointly by OSPA and The Oregonian. In 2003, Traprock Books published a full-length collection of her poems, titled A Mutable Place.

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