The poetry of Lee Garb...

emerged during the years 1951 through 1953. Lee was educated in fashion design, but had no previous experience or training in writing. She was an avid reader of poetry, philosophy, and the classics. At age 31, she started generating poems spontaneously, claiming it was as though she were a channel for some unseen muse. The reality was much less mystical. She suffered through years of emotional torment (see Biography) and shortly before the beginning of her writing, an accidental fall resulted in a severe, near-fatal head injury. It may be that the latter was the trigger that unleashed her expression of the suppressed frustration that preceded it.

All of her work was done on her ancient, beloved Smith-Corona typewriter on yellow newsprint-style paper. She was not a savant. The poetry did not flow from her mind fully matured; she edited and rewrote every verse many times. Most of her writing was done during the night while the rest of the family slept. She had a very small room, actually a converted foyer, furnished with a tiny desk and chair and with a small side table for her supplies, the occasional visiting cat, and the bottomless coffee pot that sustained her.

Lee produced 59 finished poems during this two year frenzy. When it was over, she took a correspondence course in writing, bought a new typewriter, and enjoyed a successful 12-year career in journalism and advertising until her death in 1966.

The image in the banner includes four iconic elements - typewriter, coffee pot, cat, and paintings - that dominated her creative life.

A reader made the observation that the title "Poetess" is now considered sexist. This was the title that Lee used in her manuscripts and in a poem, "Beauty's Orphan". She was a passionate feminist, but equally passionate about her femininity and wanted that reflected in how she characterized herself.