Maureen Seaton, an adored Mama and Grammy, celebrated writer, beloved creative writing teacher, and all-around magical person, died peacefully on August 26, 2023 at the age of 75 in Longmont, CO. Throughout her 6 + year journey with cancer, she remained positive and connected to life. She continued to write both independently and collaboratively, attended her Friday poetry group of Tres Abuelas y Una Mama, spent time basking in the light of her one and only grandson Mikey, and took countless walks with her dog Binky, her friend Linda, and her daughters Emily and Jennifer. She continued to adore the natural world, laugh her heart out with Lori every night, and dance to loud music in the car.  Every day in hospice care, often while eating a pint of her favorite pistachio coconut ice cream for lunch and laughing with a loved one under the linden tree, she commented that “life is good,” and she meant it.

Maureen Seaton, a proud libra, was born on October 20, 1947, in Elizabeth, NJ to Frank and Joan Seaton. She is preceded in death by her parents and her brother Frank Seaton Jr. She is survived by her partner Lori Anderson, her daughters Jennifer Steele and Emily Blank, her sons-in-law Andrew Steele and Matthew Blank, her grandson Mikey Blank, her sister Melissa Koons, and her beloved dog Binky.

Maureen grew up in New Jersey and Long Island. In high school she excelled at English, piano, and religion. She planned to become a nun until she met her first husband and started a family. Until 1992, along the Hudson River (where she felt most at home) Maureen raised two daughters, got sober, began writing poetry, and met her life-partner Lori. Her favorite pizza was Ray’s Original broccoli and ricotta, but she was known to grab some Two Boots in the village after a late night of dancing with Jennie.

Maureen moved with her family from New York to Chicago in 1992 and launched her writing and teaching career. She taught poetry workshops and served as Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago from 1993-2002, teaching concurrently in the MFA in Creative Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1997-1999. She received her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1996.  In 2002 she joined the faculty in creative writing at the University of Miami and stayed there until she retired in 2020. Maureen loved teaching and her students.

Maureen authored more than two dozen books of poetry and one memoir. Some of her solo books of poetry include Fear of Subways (1991), winner of the Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize; Furious Cooking (1996), winner of both the Iowa Poetry Prize and a Lambda Literary Award; Venus Examines Her Breast (2004), winner of the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award; Cave of the Yellow Volkswagen (2009); Fibonacci Batman: New and Selected Poems (2013); Undersea (2021); Fisher (2018); Sweet World (2019), first place winner of the Florida Book Award; and The Sky is an Elephant (2023). Her memoir Sex Talks to Girls (2008 and reissued 2018) earned her a second Lambda Literary Award.

In addition to her solo work, Maureen also was a prolific, energetic, and generous collaborator.  She wrote with and published several collaborative books with Denise Duhamel, Samuel Ace, Neil de la Flor, Aaron Smith, Kristine Snodgrass, Nicole Tallman, Carolina Hospital, Nicole Hospital-Medina, and Holly Iglesias. Maureen’s work was read widely and received many accolades. In addition to her “lammy” awards, she was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. Her poems appear in issues of The Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. She was voted “Miami’s Best Poet” in 2020 by The Miami New Times

At home, Maureen was the matriarch of her small family which also included many “adopted” friends who were like family. She hosted New Moon Circles, Winter Solstice Rituals, and family brunches. She taught us the names of her favorite trees and birds. Yet mostly the family simply gathered, sharing from the heart, supporting each other through all of life’s ups and downs, laughing even during the darkest times, and simply enjoying being together. The birth of her grandson in 2013 was of course a highlight for her and for many years she and Mikey (Sebby back then) enjoyed a weekly “Grammy and Sebby day of fun!”

Whether you were her sister, daughter, partner, friend, son-in-law, grandson, niece, nephew, collaborator, or student, Maureen believed in you and loved you so unconditionally that you couldn’t help but want to strive to heal and love yourself, embrace your dreams, and rise to the creative occasion with courage.

Here is just one of those poems in which Maureen speaks to us from the infinite:

Save Yourself for Better Times

–Virgil, Aeneid

I will not save myself for better times.

I will use myself up now—and then

I will use myself up again tomorrow.

It’s why my eyes stay open all night

And my heart throws itself to the stars.

To see which ones decide to stand still

and grow a constellation around me.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Maureen on Saturday, October 21, 2023 at 3:30 pm at Westlake Park in Hollywood, FL. A poetry reading in her honor will be held at the University of Miami on Sunday October 22, 2023 at 5pm at the John C. Gifford Arboretum, 215 Cox Science Center, 1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146. Please reach out to Emily for more info: In lieu of flowers the family asks that you donate to one of Maureen’s favorite South Florida poetry organizations, O’ Miami or SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami) or plant a tree in her honor in your own area.


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12 thoughts on “The Extraordinary Maureen Seaton”

  1. The sum of Maureen’s parts could be seen in her smile, a smile that will be missed by everyone fortunate to have shared in it, for a moment, an hour, a day, a decade, a lifetime. Now she waits for us among the constellations, the light of her smile guiding us forever

    1. That is beautiful Chauncey – an image I will take with me to sleep at night. I look forward to meeting you in October

  2. Maureen and I weathered a wonderful Marilyn Hacker workshop and we were fixed for life as poetry persons. We enjoyed a couple of semesters teaching together at U Miami, frolicking with Lori and then grad students Neil de la Flor and Kristine Snodgrass, and Maureen and I collaborated on a couple of very lively poems. I taught her work in every class. Every meeting thereafter with Maureen was precious.

  3. I feel beyond lucky, grateful, and blessed to have known Maureen. Her solo poems were smart, compassionate, hilarious–just like her! And I had the honor of collaborating with her on poetry and little essays and faux and real interviews. We collaborated in NY, Chicago, and Florida and by phone and email. She embodied the grace of her poems. She loved her daughters and grandson and Lori with a beautiful fierceness. RIP (Rest in Poetry), my dear dear friend.

  4. Emily – I remember meeting your mom and remember what an amazing spirit she had. So full of joy! I’m so sorry for your loss and I will be thinking and praying for you and your sweet family.

  5. Dear Emily,
    This is such a tender time of transition for you, Matthew and Mikey.
    Love is deeply embedded in every word here. It’s palpable. I feel it.
    I honor your path of loving kindness. You live from your heart and you embody love.
    In doing this, you touch my heart deeply.
    You grieve, because you love.

  6. I “met” Maureen very late, after Susan Lewis and I had published some of her poems in Posit. I wrote to tell her personally how much I liked a piece and she wrote back. She sent me her book and even found a copy of mine and bought it. I always wished I had sent it to her. We occasionally traded small comments, and I never got to meet her in real life, but I could feel her buoyant and generous self in her responses and in her work. I will miss her.

  7. Maureen taught my first class at SAIC and was loving, generous, funny, and fierce from the start. I felt seen and heard with her, and she opened my eyes up to all sorts of ways that writing could be—that I hadn’t imagined! I’m so sorry to hear of her passing, and I send love to her family and friends. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  8. I came across this sad news by accident. I was actually looking how to connect with Maureen, after being out of touch for the past 10 years or so. My mom and Maureen’s dad were first cousins and stayed close their entire lives. We spent every Thanksgiving together until Maureen’s family moved to Illinois. Maureen was an early inspiration to me (I’m a couple of years younger). I thought she was the coolest person I had ever met. She was the first person in my extended family to attend college and encouraged me to do the same. I was fortunate enough to catch her at some poetry readings in New York City in later years. I wish I had attended more.

  9. Maureen was the most magical person I ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was lucky enough to have her be my creative writing teacher in the early 2010s, and through that, she became a surrogate mother who has been an active part of my life. I am so unbelievably lucky to have known and loved her, and to be loved by her. Her love itself was so healing and pure. I wish I could be in Miami today and tomorrow to celebrate her, but she is always on my mind here in Chicago. I like to think that she is still here, in the water and in the trees. She left so much love everywhere she went.

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