Charlene Fix

b. 1948

Current City, State, Country

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Washington D.C., USA


Charlene’s parents, father from Waterville, Maine, mother from Winnipeg, Manitoba, married after WWII. Charlene was born in Washington, D.C., spent some babyhood in Buffalo, grew up in South Euclid on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, part of the grand engendering after World War II. She made mischief with her slightly older sister and the other free range kids in almost every house on the block. But she came of age seeing numbers tattooed on some adults’ arms in a mostly segregated city and reticent culture, so imbibed a feeling of urgency about social justice.

Charlene started writing poetry in grade three. She attended South Euclid-Lyndhurst public schools, then studied English Education at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio where she met her husband Patrick, later returning to earn an M.A. in English, and meanwhile, under Pat’s influence, started reading contemporary poems. They married, raised two daughters, Madeleine and Sonya, a son Daniel, and sometimes Pat’s son Eric. They have two grandchildren. They also shared their home with a series of dogs: Bruno, an Elkhound-Keeshond mix; Sasha, a Collie-Shepherd mix, and Harpo, an Australian Shepherd in addition to serial cats: a tabby Ribby, a ginger Kizzy, and a mustachioed brown and white Rhonda.

After a silence of more than a decade while raising kids, Charlene started writing again. She read poets widely and sometimes deeply, went to lots of readings of visiting poets at various colleges and universities, participated in open mics and featured readings, and made pilgrimages to literary festivals. In this way and unbeknownst to them, she studied with great practitioners of the art. Charlene has received Columbus and Ohio Arts Council grants in poetry, won a few prizes from The Poetry Society of America, has a humble presence on The Academy American Poets website, and has published two chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, Flowering Bruno: A Dography (XOXOX 2006 and a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry in 2007), Frankenstein’s Flowers (CW Books, 2014), Taking a Walk in My Animal Hat (Bottom Dog Press, 2018), and Jewgirl (Broadstone Books, forthcoming fall 2023). Her collection, On the Outskirts of Vertigo, is seeking a publisher. She also wrote a prose homage/film criticism, Harpo Marx as Trickster (McFarland 2012). She has been workshopping with five other poets (House of Toast) for about thirty years, and is grateful for guidance and feedback on enhancing clarity while preserving mystery.

Charlene has also had a long career teaching literature and writing (and sometimes chairing): adults in Atlantic City, Catholic high school students for ten years in Columbus, and over thirty years at Columbus College of Art and Design where she is now an Emeritus Professor of English. Since retiring from CCAD, she offers workshops for writing groups, cultural centers, and a women’s prison. Since 2014, Charlene has also co-coordinated Hospital Poets, affiliated with the Ohio State University Medicine and the Arts and Humanities in Medicine, curating poetry readings on the sprawling OSU medical campus and at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, based on the philosophy that poetry too is medicine for communities of hospital personnel, patients, and their families. She also coaches young adult writers in the West Bank and Gaza who are sharing their suffering, dreams, and aspirations in English for an organization called We Are Not Numbers. (She does this in memory of and to honor the suffering of her own people.)

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

Funny you should ask. My collection of poems, Jewgirl, finalist for the Sexton Prize at Eyewear Publishing in the U.K. in 2019, forthcoming from Broadstone Books in October 2023, is about to speak to that question. The poems in Jewgirl sing of the complex emotional and political legacy of the (Jewish, post WWII, suburban) particularity into which I was born, raised, and continue to age on through the second half of 20th century America into the first fifth of the 21st. I wrote the poems over a series of decades, many recently. Because I kept returning to that venerable, contradictory, joyful, angsty mishegoss, I gathered them. The poems grapple with the searing numbers tattooed on the arms of parents of friends, thus the commitment, Never again, for anyone. They grapple with the great moral crisis of my people: the suffering of the Palestinian people. But not every poem in Jewgirl is so weighted morally and politically—some are lighter, amusing, and because American Jews abide in a predominantly Christian culture, that influence lives in the poems as well. You might say the poems have an ecumenical yearning. The God I believe in rejoices when we mix it up. I was raised in a secular Jewish household, so you won’t find the rich fabric of tradition here, but you will find what is central to that tradition, a perhaps yiddish mindset that embodies patience, sympathy, joy, and an appetite for art, music, literature, and social justice. I think that is true of my other books as well.

Published Works

Jewgirl (Broadstone Books, forthcoming, October 2023)
Taking a Walk in My Animal Hat (Bottom Dog Press, 2018)
Frankenstein’s Flowers (CW Books, 2014)
Charlene Fix’s Greatest Hits: 1998-2011 (chapbook; Kattywompus Press, 2012)
Flowering Bruno: a Dography; with drawings by Susan Josephson (XOXOX Press, 2006)
Mischief (chapbook; Pudding House Publications, 2003)

Harpo Marx as Trickster (McFarland Publishers, 2013)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Emeritus Professor, Columbus College of Art and Design (i.e., retired)


Ohio State University, cum laude, B.S. in Education, double-major in English, 1970
Ohio State University, M.A. in English, 1975—Master’s Thesis: Friendships Between Women in the Novels of Doris Lessing
Poetry seminar with Denise Levertov, 1990
Poetry seminar with Philip Levine, 1993
Workshops in English as a Second Language and Dyslexia, 1987-90
Residency, The Writer’s Hotel, New York City, June 2015

Subject Matter