Barbara Novack is Writer-in-Residence at Molloy College and also a member of the English department, where she teaches creative writing, advanced creative writing and courses in poetry writing, novel writing and short story writing. A creative presence on campus, she provides class visits, consultation, mentoring and inspiration, reminding all that creativity is a vital part of life.

In addition to her faculty duties, she conducts popular writers’ workshops, presents programs on creative writing, memoir writing and poetry and has given readings of her poetry at various metropolitan area venues. An award-winning writer, she is a member of The Authors Guild and is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers, Who’s Who and Who’s Who of American Women. Her website is www.barbaranovack.com.

Dancing on the Rim of Light, by Barbara Novack

Published January 2, 2020

In Dancing on the Rim of LightBarbara Novack displays a talent for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Red checkered tablecloths, Irish soda bread, a mother and child on a bus, gravestones, old photographs: nothing is solid, nothing endures; and, like her favorite painter Magritte, nothing she gives the reader is what it seems to be. Haunted by the dual tragedies of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, the poems in this fine collection hover between birth and death, birth again, and death again, as Novack dances on the rim of light defending herself and the world against chaos. Available from Amazon here.

A Certain Slant of Light, by Barbara Novack

The poems within A Certain Slant of Light are expertly tuned, perfectly pitched meditations about nature, time, and the seasons - radiant windows of keen observation that rise up from their surface glimmering, and reveal the talents of a disciplined and skilled artist. I was struck by the ease of her voice, the lush use of sonics, and her compassionate wisdom. This is a marvelous book that reveals a sense of wonder, as though the inspired moment has never been before; its illuminations are bright and timeless. Available from Amazon here.

Do Houses Dream

Do Houses Dream? poems, by Barbara Novack

Do Houses Dream? offers the reader a beautiful and touching collection of poems celebrating the author's parents. Opening gently in a thoughtful mode, it builds to a crescendo, then returns to a more contemplative tone at the end, with each poem set in a context that lets it shine. In highlighting the lifelong parent-child connection, Barbara Novack has written a celebration of all parents. Do Houses Dream? ($12, Blue Light Press), finalist for the Blue Light Press 2015 Poetry Prize, is available from Amazon here and the author, English Department, Siena Hall, 103.

J.W. Valentine

J.W. Valentine, a novel, by Barbara Novack

Summer 1952, and fourteen year-old J.W. Valentine wishes the world and everyone in it would leave him alone. His life so far has not gone well. And now the state has sent him to a farm for rehabilitation, something he is determined to resist. Amid the distrust, there is discovery, and through it, J.W. Valentine tells a moving story of love. J.W. Valentine, a finalist for the Pushcart Press Editor's Book Award ($15.95, JB Stillwater Publishing Company/Casa de Snapdragon), is available from the publisher, bookstores and from Amazon here and from the author, English Department, Siena Hall, 103.

Something Like Life, poetry by Barbara Novack

Using art as its theme and life as its story, Novack explores the journey we all take in our search for happiness. Something Like Life ($14.95, JB Stillwater Publishing Co.) is available from the publisher, www.jbstillwater.com, from Amazon here, BN.com and the author, English Department, Siena Hall, 103.

Three Poems by Barbara Novack


By the curbside, sand ground fine
stone diminished to its merest particles
gray brown
almost colorless in the city.
And yet, as I step to cross the street,
I see a shimmering rainbow arc
beneath my feet.
I touch it tentatively with my toe.
The sand shimmers and shifts
but holds its magic.
I have been preoccupied this morning
with the day’s troubles
with the mundane
that has ground me fine
like city sand, colorless,
to be trod upon,
and I have trudged,
head down beneath the too-bright light,
lost in dreary thought.
But I have touched my toe, this morning,
in a rainbow.
A reminder, so gentle, so tactfully discreet,
that beauty
and blessings
and even magic
lie at my feet.


The pear tree in the neighbor’s backyard
drops its crop on the driveway
with hard thumps
like baseballs hitting a mitt.
But the pears roll, uncaught.

Once my father climbed to the top of the garage
where the pear tree branches stretch over the peak
and perched there, straddling it, plucking pears
and tossing them down to me. I
caught each neatly,
brown-green balls of sweetness, small and firm,
slapping into my cupped palms
and deposited in a large paper bag at my feet.
The pluck, the toss, the catch, the drop:
we had a good rhythm that sunny September afternoon.
And when the bag was finally full and the game ended,
my father lit his pipe, set it at a jaunty angle,
and sat secure and serene
up high against the bluest sky.

The pear tree in the neighbor’s backyard
drops its crop on the driveway
with hard thumps:
the pears roll, uncaught.

I stand at the kitchen window
and stare out at the branches
so high against
the emptiest sky.


Chekhov said
throw out the first three pages;
it takes that long
to get to the beginning.

And I may say
put aside the first three decades
sweep away their debris
cast off versions of the self
that should have molted
like early outgrown skins.
Much was misunderstood,
The guidebook for those places
has been reprinted,
the new edition totally revised.
History, after all,
is just memory compromised,
smoothed out,
its sags stretched to cover the chasms
of existence.

So put them away
in the safe place
where the fading photos stay
and know
it took all that
to get to
the beginning.

Poetry Events and Author Afternoons

As Writer-in-Residence, Barbara Novack co-founded with the English department and hosts Poetry Events at Molloy College and Author Afternoons at Molloy College, two reading series that bring contemporary poets and writers to a wider audience.

Follow this link for upcoming poetry events

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