Yes, me. We have two more days of National Poetry Month and I didn’t want to end with me, so I thought I’d sneak in here toward the end, but not at the end. I’m stepping in for two reasons today – as a poet myself and as a Co-Editor for Kakalak 2021.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know me fairly well. If you’re new to A Writer’s Window here’s a little background. I’m a small town woman who desperately tries to make her South Carolina gardens look like the ones she loves from her home state of Ohio. I have a hubby, and children and grands that I adore, and two younger sisters I can’t imagine life without. My writing springs from all of that – small towns, nature, and family.
To answer a question I asked all my other National Poetry Month guests, I wrote my first poem the summer before 5th grade. We’d just moved into a new house that had a field behind it and I found a rabbit nest in our yard. My poem was about those baby bunnies. Profound words as I recall. Bunnies are so very little/they are also very brittle//so when you pick when one up/make sure your hands are in a cup//and don’t pick one up too often//or you’ll be putting it in a coffin.
I went on to write deeper poetry. This is my first collection, written for 9th grade English.
When asked, who were some of my early supporters of my writing, Dave Spraw, my English teacher that year, is one of them. Not only did I get an ‘A’ for the notebook, he asked for a copy to give his wife, who was expecting their first child.
This is another little piece I love. I wrote–and illustrated–this for my Grandpa for Father’s Day. He was tickled and very touched when I gave it to him. When he died, Dad found this among Grandpa’s things and gave it back to me. Dad told me Grandpa would mention it every once in a while.
I’ve since written poems, non-fiction, and short stories that have been published in various journals and anthologies. I’ve actually won a couple of awards including the South Carolina Writers Association’s Carrie McCray Award for Poetry, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for that poem. My collection of poetry was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Co. in 2014.
It’s awkward promoting one’s own work, especially when that work is older. But yesterday I sent a copy of my book to a friend who is sending it to a friend because the poems still resonate. For those of you who may not know, In the Garden of Life and Death ~ A Mother and Daughter Walk, is my journey as both a mom of a daughter who had cancer, then as the daughter whose mom had cancer. (Considering my first poem was about life and death, I guess I was aware of the beauty and fragility of life for a long time.)
While my daughter survived, mom did not. Yet these poems and the book are not depressing. As one person told me, “You take us into hell, but you lift us back out.” I’m sharing the poem below because it speaks to my daughter’s spunk, and because it’s one I’ve never posted. She was 7 years-old at the time and had just relapsed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
~An outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace
For months you studied,
the first whispers of sin and the grace
of absolution, the comparison
of venial and mortal,
the practice of Bless me Father . . .
and I’m sorry . . .
Just released from surgery,
a tiny snake of tubing and a chamber
implanted for chemo and blood work, you’re weak
but still insist, I want to go Mom!
What sins could you have,
that this purgatory we’ve just begun
will not purge?
between hospital and church
we arrive in time. You sit
on my lap, rest into my heart,
and confess your tiny sins.
In the Garden of Life and Death ~ A Mother and Daughter Walk
Available through Main Street Rag Publishing Co.
I am writing again so maybe soon there will be something new to share.
And now for Kakalak 2021!
Kakalak “Evokes the Spirit of the Carolinas from the Outer Banks and Low Country to the Piedmont and Appalachia.”
While originally highlighting only North and South Carolina poets and artists, Kakalak now accepts poetry and art from anyone, anywhere, maintaining the spirit of the Carolinas as a broad brush while including topics not specific to North or South Carolina.
From the start, Kakalak represented a wide-range of styles and topics and provided varying perspectives on the human experience. And while the anthology has grown through the years – expanding to embrace current events worldwide-it has always maintained a sense of warmth, of celebration.
Submissions are open until May 23.
As a co-editor I have the pleasure and truly the fun of reading all the poems and viewing all the artwork. The range of subjects for both is always mind-boggling, and how each person sees and records similar events or experiences is what creativity is all about. I absolutely love working on this project with Anne Kaylor in the publisher’s chair, and my fellow co-editors David Poston and Richard Allen Taylor.
So how about it? Do you have some poems lying around that just need a little dusting off? Or maybe you’ve been inspired by some of the poets during National Poetry Month and you’re ready to try writing for the first time. Do you dabble in photography? Like to paint? Have a studio where you throw pots or do mosaics? However you release your creative energy, here is the link to submission guidelines, and we hope you’ll submit to Kakalak 2021
Tomorrow and Friday I return with special guests stopping by A Writer’s Window. I hope you’ll stop by, too.