My alter ego, unmasked

Every dog has his day and so with every elf.


Welcome. You have landed in the department of self-promotion. You may leave at any time.


I’m thrilled to have a piece published in Lithub chronicling my ten years as Poem Elf. Thanks to any of you who read it. More importantly, thanks to all for your readership of this blog! Your support is one of the things that keeps me going.


(Dubious side benefit to reading the essay:  if you scroll down far enough, you’ll find out what I look like. Actually I can save you the trouble. What I look like is ten years older than when I started this project.)


How I Found Small Joys in My Life as a Poem Elf


Next week I get back to business with a death series. Never have been a fan of autumn.


  1. Tom

    Nicely done, and so darned honest. I’m glad the Poem Elf goes on her rounds and shares the results with us. Poetry lives!
    P.S. great photo.

  2. Jim Ellis

    Congratulations. I love the randomness and hopefulness of what you do. Been reading you for a few years at least. Always cool.
    Jim E./Auburn NY

  3. thesongsmymothertaughtme

    Lovely! I, for one, enjoy your poems, – mostly – and the writing that goes with them (always). And if I do not enjoy the poem as much as you do, then at least, it is always a pleasure to read why you like that particular poem, or what strikes you about the words. Keep blogging, my little (very much a term of endearment) elf, keep choosing the poems and writing about them. You brighten my day and I always look forward to your choices and words.

    With much love from across the oceans (as much as it is possible to have affection for someone whom I have not met),



  4. Julia Ralston

    They make beautiful things in secret and enjoy the hell out if it. Congratulations on your published essay, Maggie; I loved reading it.

    I’m still wondering why I never suggested a poem earlier this year when you invited us to be guest submitters. So I’ll do it now. It’s not my current favorite poem (Rilke’s “… go to the edge of your longing and clothe me there”) but it does make me think of my dad, who is currently living with Alzheimer’s. Back when I was a senior in high school, dad taught me to drink coffee black, which made my mother mad. He and I would stand there in our tiny kitchen, drinking our instant black coffee, before I caught my ride to school and he left for work. One winter morning he suggested that we memorize Rudyard Kipling’s poem IF. Each morning we got a little further. We would swing our arms as if conducting to get into the rhythm of the lines, grinning and congratulating ourselves. I had the bright idea of substituting “woman” for “man” and “daughter” for “son” in the last line. My dad befriended most everyone he met, telling too long stories and prioritizing relationship over being right.

    Julia Ralston 704-562-4677


    1. poemelf

      I love this story, love your substitutions, love your dad without ever knowing him.

      Doesn’t everyone go through a time of loving “If”? It’s like marching band music, rousing, inspiring, self-important but still….important. Guess I’ll always have a place in my heart for that poem.

  5. Julia Ralston

    Two more thoughts… you remind me of John O’Donohue writing blessings for others to receive

    And, I loved your line: They recognize some part of their life experience or imagine someone else’s.

    Julia Ralston 704-562-4677


  6. Kathleen Threlfall

    Many distractions later, I read your wonderful essay. Thank you for the back story about this terrific idea. I look forward to every poem/photo/discussion. I hope you continue to make beautiful things in secret and enjoy the hell out of it!

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