I’m a memoirist, and whether I’m writing poetry, essays, or book-length pieces, I write memories. My style, as such, comes from loving words: words that define meaning more precisely. I spend a lot of time with the thesaurus, and my favorite right now WordNet, an electronic source out of Princeton University. So even when I write prose, I want my words/sentences to sound right. I’ve spent more years reading and writing poetry (most of it badly done) than I have publishing poetry.
The below poem from the collection At the Boundary may say more about my style than any words I can write about “style.” When I wrote this poem, I was working with the concept of writing lines as phrases and clauses that would only require commas and no full stop until the end of the poem. I don’t always write like that. Often my sentences are short and blunt, again for sound and rhythm. I don’t listen to music as I write but I like my sentences to have music in them. The below is one long sentence and related to the time after my mother died.
When I arise each morning, I walk across the hall to our office where I have my electric teapot and cup, and I look out the window “to measure each day’s grace” as I wrote in At the Boundary, my recently published book of poetry. The willow tree we planted five or six years ago is now thirty feet tall and measures the wind for me. It’s the first thing I look at. And then I watch the birds to see what they are doing, whether huddled in or busy on the lawn.
One of the nicest compliments I’ve had on my newly published book is that the words I use to describe what I see in nature places the reader in the same place. If you are one of those who has purchased the book, thank you. And if you’d like to purchase it, clicking on the title above will take you to it.
Here’s my willow – a tree I’ve always wanted to have in my yard and now I do! Here’s two shots of it: Willow Against Fence (I also love the way our weathered board fence looks) and Willow Light, which reminds me of an Impressionist painting. The willow reminds me to move slow and to measure each day’s grace in the way I interact with the world.
I took this shot at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Centerwhen we went to hear two friends, Janet and Stanley Banks read poetry. She was so beautiful in herself, black beret, red coat, elegant make-up, that I wanted to shoot her as she listened to the poetry without her noticing me.
Then I noticed the display behind her: the legends, the leaders — certainly no mere mortals. Nor was she.
I have one more “beyond” photo to share. This one the mock-up cover of my book of poetry which will be published by Finishing Line Press in May and which arrived this week for my approval.
There’s many instances of beyond behind this cover. One is the photo itself which I took one day while out driving back roads. If you look closely, you’ll see a horse at the far edge of the pasture, almost beyond sight. But the other beyond is the content. The book includes poems I wrote shortly after returning to Kansas in 1999, my mother coming back after I did, her death, the death of two close friends after that (death being the great beyond), and at last, Cliff and my marriage which is beyond anything I expected.
I’m happy about this book. And the step that takes me beyond the place of being published but not having a book of my own–and having one. “One more step along the way,” some wise young men once sang. (PS: there’s a lot of white space at the top of the cover so you have to go beyond that to see the photo!! See what “beyond” leads me to?)