Linda Pastan (born May 27, 1932) is an American poet of Jewish background.
From 1991–1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. She is known for writing short poems that address topics like family life, domesticity, motherhood, the female experience, aging, death, loss and the fear of loss, as well as the fragility of life and relationships.
Pastan has published at least 12 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the 1986 Maurice English Poetry Award (for A Fraction of Darkness), the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She also received the Radcliffe College Distinguished Alumnae Award.
Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
They seemed to all take off
at once: Aunt Grace
whose kidneys closed shop;
Cousin Rose who fed sugar
my grandmother’s friend
who postponed going so long
we thought she’d stay.
It was like the summer years ago
when they all set out on trains
and ships, wearing hats and veils
and the proper gloves,
because everybody was going
someplace that year,
and they didn’t want
to be left behind.