The Work of Peggy Freydberg: Poetry Reading and Celebration

Peggy Freydberg and Nancy Aronie at Ms. Freydberg's reading. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

On August 28 I got an email from Nancy Aronie that read, “Peggy Freydberg is 106, sharp as a tack, and still writing. Her work is moving and powerful. One day I said, ‘Peggy, how come you aren’t famous?’ She said, ‘I don’t know. I would have liked that.’ This is my tiny offering to give her some of that. I’ll pass around her books and we’ll read her work.”

Having attended Peggy’s reading of her own work at the Chilmark library in 2010, I responded “yes” immediately, and when asked if I minded doing a cold reading, said I would love to. Between August 28 and the scheduled reading on Sept. 16, Nancy fretted every time she heard a siren go off in Chilmark, fearing it might be an ambulance for Peggy. Recently, Nancy had several experiences when her inner voice told her she should get in touch with someone, and she delayed.

The afternoon reading on Sept. 16 brought a mix of attendees, all of whom had the opportunity to read Peggy’s work to her. When it was over, Peggy said, “I’ve wondered why I lived to be 106. Now I know, so I could have this experience.” Later she told Nancy, “The word ‘thank you’ is so trite. I cannot thank you enough, I had the day of my life.”

Fan Ogilvie reflected afterward, “Her poetry became so alive because of her voice as song, not speech.” Arnie Reisman feels “Peggy Freydberg is a Martha’s Vineyard monument, a writer of incredible insight who thankfully found her poetic voice 15 years ago at the age of 91. Reading her words to her was a wonderful event of the heart.” Doreen Beinart wrote Nancy that she “can’t wait to savor all her poems. Wondrous language and thoughts.” Paula Lyons “was stunned by the humanity, universality, and delightful precision of word and wordplay in Peggy’s poetry.” She “bought both books that were offered, and [knows] they will become permanent favorites.”

To purchase copies of Peggy Freydberg’s two poetry books, contact Nancy Aronie at