July 2, 2013
Sarah Broom’s first collection was completed after learning she had stage-four lung cancer in 2008. At twenty-eight weeks pregnant, she was given only months to live. When I met her in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2011 she had given birth to her daughter and was bravely writing her second collection,Gleam, while submitting herself to an exhausting regime of drug trials and treatments in Auckland, Melbourne, and Boston. She was effervescent, optimistic, charming, and generous with her time. The talent on display in her first collection, Tigers at Awhitu, was dark and haunting and I was attracted to her work before understanding how much of it was made through adversity. Sadly, Sarah Broom died on April 18, 2013, five years after her initial diagnosis. Gleam will be published by Auckland University Press in August 2013. Selina Guinness says, “It is a collection written in extremis, and contains some of the most beautiful and startling poems about dying I have ever read.” Broom is survived by her husband, Michael Gleissner, and their three children, Daniel, Christopher, and Amelia, whom she lived to see go off to school.
Our conversation is published in the most recent edition of the Prairie Schooner.