Julia came from the wonderful old school of intimacy —
her letters to me were forever immediate and drawn from her
rural surroundings of New Hampshire, even as she was sharing translations
by Vian and Quasimodo which we published. I had known her long ago from
her books of poems with Unicorn Press — Alan Brilliant, the proprietor and legendary
printer and publisher already had the fix on one more poet we all should be reading.
Out of the blue, like an owl's call, came news that Julia had passed away. She was
with us but a moment ago.
[ BA ]
Peterborough, NH — Writer Julia Older died at age 79 on April 17, 2021, in Peterborough, NH. Born May 25, 1941, in Chicago, IL., she and writer Steve Sherman settled in Hancock, NH, in 1972, where she lived until the end of her life. She is survived by Steve Sherman, sisters Priscilla Older and Deborah Hall, nieces and nephews, and many dear friends.
You can get some sense of Julia's life from lists of books she published, and fellowships, awards, and honors she received for her writing over many years. Julia was pleased by formal recognition and grateful for assistance (she loved her residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell for the peace and freedom they offered), but she always went her own way, pursued only subjects that engaged her imagination, and developed talents in many areas besides writing. From childhood she adored dance, and in her 70s she seriously took up ballet again. A fine flutist, for years she soloed and played in various ensembles, for pleasure and for income. As a young single woman she roamed other countries—hitchhiking through France, writing in a seaside town in Italy, studying and teaching in Mexico, playing the flute in Brazil. After moving to New Hampshire, she came to know and love her own region — Grand Monadnock; the Isles of Shoals; the woods, lakes, coast, and byways of New Hampshire. She made friends with the birds outside her window and knew native plants. Many of her writings reflect her devotion to the place where she lived. Still, by nature and education she was a cosmopolitan, and in her imagination she continued to roam widely, producing a poem and radio drama about a mysterious ancient artifact, a sequence of poems about an early Persian feminist, two well-regarded translations of avant-garde French writer Boris Vian's stories, and translations of Italian Salvatore Quasimodo's poems. The last she was working on when she died. You can find Julia's publications in local libraries and at Toadstool Bookshops.
From the time they met at MacDowell Colony and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail for their honeymoon, Steve Sherman was at Julia's side, collaborating with her, cheering her on, caring for her when she was ill, and responding to her work. Friends and family will always remember what fun it was to be with them—enjoying their fabulous meals, laughing and talking, lifted by Julia's gaiety, capacity for life, generosity, and perhaps by seeing her launch into a pirouette or two just for the joy of it.