Barbara A. Holland

Barbara Adams Holland, born in Philadelphia and a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, made her entrance into the New York poetry scene around 1961 with a self-published chapbook, Medusa. The reaction to its up-front mix of witchcraft, Satanism, and Chthonic mythology among friends, family, and fellow poets must have been discouraging, for the book vanished and never referred to it again. But the haunting title-poem was published and read aloud frequently, and by the early 1970s, the poet was regaling her audience with other alarming and terrifying myth-infused poems, always recited from memory.
She became known as “The Sybil of Greenwich Village.” By 1970 she had published work in over 700 magazines. Her poems of Manhattan’s Bohemia in its last decade are sharp and surreal takes from an outsider, a “full-time poet” when such a choice was a guarantee of neglect and poverty. She is the flaneur of streets and harbors, of coffeehouses and lofts, always “alone in my voice” but eager to share her sharp and biting images and visions.
She began to overlay her New York vistas with images and ideas from the paintings of Belgian surrealist René Magritte, culminating in a connected cycle of some 90 poems entitled Crises of Rejuvenation. No fewer than 14 of her books and chapbooks came from The Poet’s Press, including the posthumous volumes of lost manuscripts, poems from magazines, and poems reconstructed from her notebooks by Brett Rutherford. The largest of these volumes, After Hours in Bohemia (2020) also includes all the contemporaneous reviews and articles about Holland and her work. The Barbara Holland Reader (2021) makes the critical material available alongside all the poems referred to by reviewers and critics, making it a great starting point for students and new readers.

Free download of After Hours in Bohemia:

Selected Poems Volume 1: