The book is a collection of 35 persona poems written in the imagined voice of Mileva, Albert Einstein’s first wife.
I first became interested in Mileva twenty-five years ago when my partner at the time was immersed in research for a biography on Albert.
We traveled together as he visited various archives in Europe, as well as the locations where Mileva and Albert met as classmates at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic, fell in love, had an illegitimate daughter that derailed Mileva’s career as a scientist, later married, had two sons, worked together, and divorced after Albert abandoned her for his first cousin and second wife, Elsa. We visited the homes the couple shared in Zurich and Bern.
Today there are several biographies devoted to Mileva, in addition to newer biographies of Albert that include more detail about Mileva’s role in his life and accomplishments.
There is evidence to indicate that she was instrumental, and perhaps a collaborator, in the scientific papers that comprised Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis, or Miracle Year, of epoch-making theories that redefined the mechanics of the universe and laid the path to his fame.
I’ve lost track of how many drafts were written of this poem, but there were quite a few. It is my practice to start all poems in longhand for the emotional connection this offers me. There are usually 3–6 handwritten drafts; the first few are almost cryptic to anyone but me. I call these gut-feeling, truth-digging drafts.
Once I have my focus and feeling for the poem aligned and I know what the center of the poem is, I go to the computer to type it. This is when I begin working specifically with line and how line enhances meaning. This is when I become technically fussy in my grammar and more exact in my use of language. This is when I begin reading the poem aloud to hear its tone meaning, its voice, and to make more edits for compression. Then, I take the poem to my writing group
One revision challenge I experienced with this and all the poems in the book was the merging of voices. After reading so many of Mileva’s letters, my early drafts sounded like her in my use of very formal archaic syntax and idioms. In revision, I needed to modernize the language without losing Mileva and without losing the narrative arc of her story.
I’m the author of Her Landscape, Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić Einstein, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in July 2020, (Women in Parentheses) (Kelsay Books, 2019), Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and three chapbooks, Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015), and Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014). I’m a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, where I live most of the year, teach part-time, and facilitate local writing groups. In winters I migrate to the Space Coast of Florida.
“Looking For Sunsets (In the Early Morning)”
by Cindy Hochman
“The Way Back”
“VAN GOGH TO HIS MISTRESS”
by Margo Taft Stever
“How To Befriend Uncertainty”
“Shostakovich: Five Pieces”
“Bouquet for Amy Clampitt”