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While You’re Interviewed What Books Say to Me Behind Your Back, a poem by Suzanne Austin-Hill

Poet Suzanne S. Austin-Hill reflects on what our books reveal about us. Read her poem "The Lady in the Pictures" in 805's special issue to celebrate Black women writers.


This post is part of 805 Lit + Art’s “My Home Library” blog series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic. 805 is proudly published by the Manatee County Public Library System, and we hope this series will help people show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library during this difficult time.


Due to the pandemic

you’re not in the studio,

but rather in your home

in the room where all books go.

I notice that there’s a pattern,

a rhythm for every one.

Some arranged by color;

others by size it’s done.

But what they have in common

is obvious to the eye;

all the books are neatly stacked,

the camera cannot lie.

Each, a soldier standing,

not at parade rest;

not one lying horizontally

not one that need be wrest.

Such a sense of order,

that everything’s said and done.

Unlike my home library

where the work has yet begun.

After decades of collecting,

its care we’ve put aside;

recent purchases and recent reads

now on a bed reside.

But, I’m okay with this chaos;

some of my favorites in clear view.

Misty Copeland’s Life in Motion,

“…for the little brown girls.” in pointe shoes.

There’s Algebra from a different Angle

and Sixty-seven Pages from the Heart;

books that I have written

for the love of poetry and Descartes.

The interviews are over;

the discussions finally through.

It’s plain to see that from behind,

your home library is really a story about you.


Suzanne S. Austin-Hill, Ph.D. is a retired, mathematics educator. Her photographs have been exhibited at shows in the Tampa Bay area. Suzanne’s poetry has received recognition on the state and national evels. Sixty-seven Pages from the Heart, her first book of poetry, was published December, 2019 by Kindle Direct Publishing.

© July 2020 Suzanne S. Austin-Hill

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