Category Archives: John Updike

Introducing our Poetry Editor

We are pleased to introduce Caroline Sposto as our poetry editor.  She will be posting humorous poetry on a regular basis.  Welcome.

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto has a B.A. in English from The University of Colorado and an M.S. in Electronic Media from Kutztown University. She spent the majority of her professional career as co-founder and managing partner of Sposto Interactive digital agency. She sold her interest in the company in 2009, returned to creative writing and has since published several poems, short stories and essays.

John Updike (1932 – 2009) crafted meaningful works about the complexities of mainstream American culture for more than five decades. Though best known for his protagonist, Harry Rabbit Angstrom, this longstanding critic, chronicler, and champion of our middle class first published light verse in the New Yorker. While his witty, poetic take on post-war society is incisive and satirical, it glows with amiable affection for its subject instead of haughty contempt or caustic cynicism.

His 1955 poem, “To an Usherette” ran in the New Yorker during the cold war. Its quirky characters, clever diminutives, unusual rhymes and musical meter provide dazzling, accessible fun at face value. Yet between the lines, this poem is filled with rich commentary about a pent-up and often-hypocritical era.

Levittown-inspired developments were changing the American landscape. A decade had passed since Rosie the Riveter had traded factory work for suburban domesticity or a marginalized “pink collar” job. Television was fueling an unprecedented level of consumerism, while fine-tuning our standards of social conformity. This was a period of acute class-consciousness, mass upward mobility, stifling corporate culture and commercially driven cookie-cutter sophistication. Moreover, behind closed doors, millions of American couples were quietly coping with the fallout from over-urgent, wartime marriages.

What underlying messages speak to you through this charming poem? Share your insight. Tell me what you think. Enjoy!

To an Usherette

Ah, come with me,
Petite chérie,
And we shall rather happy be.
I know a modest luncheonette
Where, for a little, one can get
A choplet, baby lima beans,
And, segmented, two tangerines.

Le coup de grâce
My pretty lass,
Will be a demi-demitasse
Within a serviette conveyed
By weazened waiters, underpaid,
Who mincingly might grant us spoons
While a combo tinkles trivial tunes.

Ah, with me come,
My mini-femme
And I shall say I love you some.

All material except for poem, (c) 2011, Caroline Sposto