Amy Barone reads from We Became Summer

At the Zinc Bar recently on a Sunday afternoon, I heard Amy Barone read along with Thad Rutkowski and Dorothy Friedman. The idea at first was just to document Dorothy, but then I videoed all the poets and I’m so glad I did. Amy Barone’s poetry was a discovery; it is as provincial as Philadelphia and as worldly as Italy; Philadelphia is where the poet is from, and the world is where she’s gone, but she carries in herself a part of the clime and history of her birth. I can hear Philadelphia when Amy Barone speaks even when she is in Italy, but that accent is a good thing. The clear often witty and ironic observations one is likely to hear coming from a Philadelphian are present in her poetry. Listen. Many of the lines are striking and memorable, lines that one should remember, but first must hear. Enjoy.

Queen of Tone

Abigail Ybarra didn’t live nine lives.
She stopped at one.

Her job spanned over fifty years at Fender Guitars
where small nimble hands of a Latina teen made waves.

A pickup winder, she advanced from work in soldering and lit
a path for other young women who found joy in a unique job.

Striving for brilliance, “her” electric guitars mesmerized
legions of fans and radicalized the sound of rock music.

She drew demand from Jimi Hendrix, Joan Jett, Eric Clapton,
who relied on her handcrafted pickups for their edgy sound.

A legacy with measure: they say she wound guitar wire
that would have circled the world sixteen times.


They’re up there—in transition,
sandwiched between old and new lives.
Floating, attachment dissolving, thoughts turning pure.

They’ll become who they’re meant to be,
as long as they have the grit to conclude
unfinished business. Journey on.

The next time I chat up clouds of horses and unicorns,
I’ll be more respectful of friends and family.
Speaking to stars is never in vain.

We Became Summer is published by New York Quarterly Books. You can check it out here.

with Joe Elliot

Leave a Reply