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Peggy Pond Church



Honored March 1986

Peggy Pond Church

Best known as the author of the 1959 classic about the Manhattan Project The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos, Peggy Pond Church had an abiding love for poetry.

Her literary life included decades of work as a serious poet. In fact, she was the only New Mexico native to take an active part in the modernist poetry movement that flourished in Santa Fe from the 1920s through the 1930s. Her career included publication of eight volumes of poetry plus the posthumous collection This Dancing Ground of Sky: The Selected Poetry of Peggy Pond Church.

Peggy's first book, Foretaste, was published in 1933 as one of the original Santa Fe Editions that gave a significant voice to the literary community of the time. While her work appeared in such prestigious venues as the Atlantic Monthly, Peggy said, "1 never had the self-confidence" to pursue a career as a public poet. Nonetheless, she continued writing and producing poetry throughout her lifetime.

Although her name is inevitably associated with Los Alamos, where her father, Ashley Pond, Jr., ran the Los Alamos Ranch School that was taken over by the Manhattan Project in 1942, Peggy Pond Church's roots are deeply entwined with other regions of New Mexico.

Peggy was born in Watrous, New Mexico, in 1903, where her great-grandfather raised Clydesdale horses. Her great-grandfather arrived on "one of the first trains through Raton," and at one time managed a ranch for the notorious Senator Stephen Dorsey in the northeastern part of the state. The family also ranched in the Roswell area for a time.

Although Peggy was discouraged by her parents from writing poetry, she remained deeply influenced by their readings of King Lear, Mother Goose, and the works of Rudyard Kipling.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes