Joyce Lott grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before casinos, when Steel Pier’s Diving Horse and Planter’s Mr. Peanuts attracted boardwalk crowds. After only one year at Wellesley College, she married and raised three children at the shore.
When her youngest entered kindergarten, Joyce and her husband moved to Princeton, New Jersey, a town from which she could commute to college. During the time her children were growing up, she graduated from Douglass College and earned at Masters at Rutgers University.
Like many women of that era, Joyce went through a transition, divorced, and entered the job market. Her book A Teacher’s Stories, Reflections on High School Writers (Boynton/Cook Heinemann), written after years of teaching high school English, records her daily observations on what really takes place in a high school classroom. In it, she tells stories about her own teaching and how she established a classroom environment where students and teachers have time to reflect, play with language, make many starts, and accomplish work that matters to them.
In Princeton, she joined Cool Women Poets and began to publish essays and poetry in Journal of NJ Poets, Kalliope, Ms. Magazine, The Paterson Literary Review, The Times, The Writer’s Chronicle, Writing on the Edge , and other journals. She won third prize in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and was a finalist for the Ragdale Foundation’s Frances Shaw Fellowship.
Joyce remarried Gary Lott, a teacher and artist, and lived with him in a house they created together filled with windows and skylights. Beams from an old barn Gary tore down in upper New York State extend along the walls and ceiling.
After twenty years of marraige, Gary died. Joyce published her first poetry book Dear Mrs. Dalloway (Finishing Line Press) shortly thereafter. In September 2006, Garrison Keillor read one of Joyce’s poems on public radio.
After 25 years of marriage, Gary died. Shortly thereafter, Lott published two poetry books with Finishing Line Press, “Dear Mrs. Dalloway” and “An Unexpected Life.” Her poems in these books are not only about grief but also about her life-affirming re-entry into an unanticipated life.
A few years after Gary died of bladder cancer, Joe, a widower, appeared in Joyce Lott’s life. When she was finally ready to sell the house that Gary had pretty much put together with his own hands and move to Southern California, a mile from her daughter Suzanne and her family, Joe didn’t hesitate to join her. He loved to walk on the bluff by the beach and to sit in his favorite lounge chair in their apartment overlooking the ocean. He also enjoyed their new friends and having family nearby. Joe lived with Joyce in California for almost two and a half years. He died two months before his ninety-second birthday.