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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.