She was so tiny she might have been standing on her tiptoes as she strained to reach the microphone, her white head barely visible above the top of the lectern.
Lucille Broderson wore an appliquéd sweatshirt and sensible shoes, but once she began to read, she was a literary force of nature.
At age 94 (“and a half,” she corrected Michael Dennis Browne, who introduced her) she was launching her first book, “But You’re Wearing a Blue Shirt the Color of the Sky,” at the Loft Literary Center.
These were not sweet old-lady poems about grandchildren and puppies; these were vivid, skilled and poignant.
In “Eight of Us,” she wrote about her seven siblings, how “we thought we’d live forever,” but now she was the last. In “Heaven,” she wrote about her gratitude for the natural world. “Can you believe … the snow / how it glows this morning, / I sang as I got the blower / and cleared the driveway.”
Broderson wrote for years, but after she and her husband began taking workshops from Browne, she came to realize that she was a poet.
Her rewards were many: publication in Poetry magazine, Agassiz Review and TriQuarterly. In her 60s, she won a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant and a Loft Mentorship.
Broderson’s inspiration was the outdoors. She’d squash her old straw hat onto her head, tie on her shoes, and tell folks she was going to take her brain for a walk.
And off she’d go, out the front door, up the street, walking fast — “a little elf zooming along,” her daughter-in-law Linda Broderson said — thinking hard, writing poems in her head.