|Poetry transformed my life. Are you ready for it to transform yours? Our latest classes just might!|
To be honest, I never expected poetry to play such a large role in my life. As a child, I did have certain influences: The Big Book of Limericks by Edwards S. Mullins, The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash, and of course, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, which my sisters and I loved to quote from to our mother on wintry school days:
“I cannot go to school today!”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay
“I have the measles and the mumps
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry
I’m going blind in my right eye
My tonsils are as big as rocks
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more, that’s seventeen
And don’t you think my face looks green?”
Speaking of my mother, an English teacher and a secret book-reader-under-her-desk-student in Catholic school, my favorite moments with her were when she read to us from Rootabega Stories by Carl Sandberg as we drank tea around the kitchen table at the family farm (aptly named Rootabega Country). We could quote verbatim:
“Send us far as the railroad rails go and then forty ways farther yet,” was the reply of Gimme the Ax. “So far? So early? So soon?” asked the ticket agent wiping more sleep out his eyes.”
Now that I think about it, how could I NOT be a writer and a lover of poetry under such influences as these? And BTW, my father (pictured above, with me at age 3), an engineer and a Shakespeare enthusiast, authored the book, The Bard In Brief: Short Quotations from the Plays of William Shakespeare, which you can buy on Amazon!
One thing I notice now: All of these poets were men! And my favorite poems often celebrated strong women! It wasn’t until later (long after college) that I was exposed to and transformed by the female poets I read now: Mary Oliver (“You do not have to be good”), Lucille Clifton, Marge Piercy, Denise Levertov, May Sarton, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Robin Morgan, Xanath Caraza, Mary Pierce Brosmer (founder of Women Writing for (a) Change) and of course, Emily Dickinson:
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise…”
Superb Surprise Coming, In Poetry and Art
When my life broke open 10 years ago, I turned to writing—and poetry—for solace and renewal. That changed everything for me. Today I regularly read poetry and incorporate it into all of my personal and professional endeavors. So I guess it should not come as TOO much of a surprise that I am currently editing a book of poetry and paintings by two women from our Jacksonville women writing community: Jenny Noble Anderson and Emma Greenhill.
They met through our 2019 BIRDS Exhibition and were inspired to create a book together: But Still, She Flies. It’s a genre-bending book of poetry and paintings in conversation with each other over the great themes of women’s lives: personal transformation, triumph over struggle, motherhood, the garden, the sea.
New Poetic Classes for You this Spring
In the meantime, we’re also thrilled to offer a series of classes starting at the end of the month focused on poetry, as well as song, and tea…all the things I grew to love sitting around our kitchen table. I’m guessing you love them, too. Find out more here.
So please join us this spring for more classes, more poetry, and more community as we begin to turn the page on the pandemic and enter a season of renewal and rebirth, starting with poetry, and women’s words, and women’s art. We hope you’ll join us.