Notes From a Transplant

I’m a poet, a painter, and a gardener. Gardeners say a weed is a right thing in a wrong place, and getting things in their right places is at the center of making a rewarding poem, a good painting, or a satisfying garden.

When I moved to Michigan from Southern California a few years ago, I was certain everything I knew about gardening would be wrong. This confidence turned out to be misplaced. It was true I would no longer be planting sweet peas in October (we had no frost most years in Pasadena), but it was not true that all gardening came to a halt with the first Michigan frost. A nursery in Ann Arbor had a sale on perennials in October and I was suspicious; but, surprise, perennials like to spend their dormant time roots down in the dirt, in Zone Six or in Zone Ten. You still have to find the ones suited to your zone, and you still have to figure out how much sun and how much water each plant needs whether your drip irrigation comes from a hose or falls out of the sky. People will still tell you the special cures they swear by, and you will still have to find out which ones work in your garden.

What poets as well as gardeners do, is dig something out of one place and use it in another. If you think carefully about what you know, it’s not ever necessary to scrap it all and start over. It’s not even possible, since past knowledge clings. Some things, maybe not the ones you thought, will be useless, but some, maybe not the ones you expected, will carry through.

So welcome to my website and my blog, a collection of work I have done and work I am doing. There may be weeds, but I hope you’ll see the beauty I find among them.

— Robin Richstone

7 thoughts on “Notes From a Transplant

    • robinrichstone says:

      Yes, I wrote it when I lived in California and used to go to LA Chamber Orchestra performances in Pasadena. I developed a crush on David Shifrin, or rather on the way he played the clarinet, somewhat complicated by also having a crush on Allan Vogel and the way he played the oboe. Got myself invited to the Green Room after a concert, but was too conflicted to say much to either of them.


  1. Bruce Botts says:

    love your poems, found The Christmas Story on the Writers Almanac OMG, moving me to tears. So relevant and timely and timeless. I’ve never written a fan letter to anyone that I can remember…..



  2. Peter Ortner says:

    You probably don’t remember me. I think the last time we met was at your wedding to Shec. Allen Turner was just visiting (we have kept in close touch/integrating our families since graduating Yale) and Charlie Carroll came out to visit providing me Shec’s contact information. Allen contributed a volume “The Museum of Fresh Starts”. Just wanted to tell you my wife and both loved it. You look out at the world thru a mature woman’s child eyes. THANK YOU


    • robinrichstone says:

      Peter! I do remember you, and very well. Thank you — I’m glad you like my poems, and it’s so nice to be in touch. It was great to see Allen and Minga when they came through Ann Arbor in the Before Times. I haven’t seen Charlie in quite a while, but we correspond now and then. It makes me feel young again to picture you all together. Thank you for writing!


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