Regan Good never expected to work at Bridgewater.
Her father was noted civil rights journalist Paul Good. Her mother Ruth was a poet. A graduate of Barnard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — and before that, a Staples Players actor and Orphenians singer, in the high school’s class of 1985 — Regan was always passionate about words.
After “the starving years” as a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker — plus a stint in publishing at St. Martin’s Press — Regan joined a Manhattan hedge fund. They were hiring artists, to “flesh out their culture.” She worked in recruitment.
That led to Bridgewater.
She calls her experience “a Randian nightmare.” She made $750 a day — “which a poet can’t pass up” — but, she says, “I can’t even tell you what I did there.”
Regan lasted a year and a half, at the largest hedge fund in the world
But living in Brooklyn, and commuting back to her home town, sparked a new appreciation of Westport for Regan. She sat in her office at Nyala Farm, looked across the former dairy meadow, and saw the house where her father once lived.
“My mind went back, mourning for the ’70s,” she says.
Regan has not lived in Westport for 25 years. She seldom returns now. But she still feels connected. She still considers it “my town. It’s where I came to consciousness. It’s where I began to think thoughts. It’s a place with primordial feelings for me — the physical and intellectual place I grew up in.”
As her mind flashed back to places like the flooded marsh on Old Road, where she skated in winter — and as she thought about her father, mother and brother, all of whom have died — Regan wrote poetry.
Now they’ve been published. “The Needle” is a collection of Regan’s work. There are poems about Brooklyn, Maine and Iowa.
But Regan keeps coming back — literally and figuratively — to Westport.
She writes about the Saugatuck River, Nyala, making jelly, and worms and wasps. She writes about Bridgewater. One poem is dedicated to her childhood friend, Paige Griglun.
You don’t have to be from Westport (or Brooklyn, Maine or Iowa) to be moved by Regan’s work. Her poems are vivid, accessible and universal.
But, at the core of many, is the town where Regan grew up, and which nurtured her sense of self and the world.
“My mind keeps going there,” she says. “I just follow it.”
Some of her favorite poems include “To the Saugatuck River and Its Source at Sugar Hollow,” “The Dairy Still Stands,” and “Reverse Commute Through Grand Central: All Doors Open at Westport, Connecticut.”
Her poems have drawn great praise. Poet Tom Thompson says:
“The Needle” comes barreling out of time in an utterly original and necessary way. The poems inhabit a landscape that is recognizably our own but at the same time ancient, burning with celestial fire and hunger. intoxicating and grounded in the stuff of the earth, with echoes of Stevens and Yeats, “The Needle” is extraordinary.
Of course, a poet — even one who worked at Bridgewater — cannot subsist on poetry alone.
Regan teaches writing at Barnard, Pratt and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
And she’s just finished a memoir about Westport.
It’s called “The Good Family.” Get it?
Regan Good truly does have a way with words.
(To order a copy of “The Needle,” click here.)