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Poetry Friday: "Playa Colorada" by Peg Boyers

If you enjoy today's poem, be sure to view Monday's NYS Summer Writers Institute reading with Peg Boyers and novelist Mary Gaitskill


Peg Boyers, Skidmore College photo archive
Peg Boyers, Skidmore College photo archive

Playa Colorada

By Peg Boyers

It was a beach like all beaches, only perhaps more beautiful. And the sand was pink not red. We would arrive in caravans, hampers overflowing with food and drink like Aziz and his party on the way to Malabar. The colonials and their servants away on an outing. We would stop under thatch umbrellas, towels and tablecloths spread out against the sea. My mother in her skirted swim suit surrounded by fathers of other children, her olive skin lit through her straw hat. They would laugh and drink beer and leer while the children did the usual beach things, boring futile tunnels to China, running at waves and then away, daring each other to be swallowed. I would go out by the forbidden rocks and pick off oysters, then give them to the men to pry open, cover with lime juice and suck dry. Once, I saw my mother sucking an oyster out of another daddy’s hand. Her dappled face bobbed and smiled and her tongue


searched the shell for pearls.


Peg Boyers, "Playa Colorada" from Honey with Tobacco. Copyright © 2007


About Peg Boyers

Peg Boyers was born in San Tomé, Venezuela, but spent her childhood on the move, living in Libya, Italy, Indonesia, and Cuba. She earned her BA from Skidmore College. Her collections of poetry are Hard Bread (2002), Honey with Tobacco (2007), and To Forget Venice (2014).

Hard Bread contains a series of poems written in the voice of Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), an Italian writer, editor, and mother who witnessed World War II. Boyers carefully reconstructed Ginzburg’s experiences by illuminating the historical details of her life. Steven Cramer called the narrative “a great achievement of voice” in Poetry. A lecturer in the English Department at Skidmore College and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Boyers is the executive editor of Salmagundi.


Online reading on Monday, July 17

Peg Boyers will be joined by novelist Mary Gaitskill for a NYS Summer Writers Institute online reading at 7 p.m. Monday, July 17. The reading is free and online via Zoom. Reservations are not required. Attend the readings using this Zoom link.

Readings from Peg Boyers' event at the NYS Writers Institute in 2015