T.S. Eliot wrote in “Little
Gidding” that We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Sometimes, the person we’re
closest with can be the most difficult to comprehend. Lately I’ve been writing
poems that reach back toward my mother, who died in 2012. Many of the poems
arrived while I was hiking alone in Scotland. Like Cheryl Strayed in her
Pacific Coast trek, it took solitude, as well as encounters with women across
the Highland landscape who were mentors, guides, occasionally saviors, for me
to begin to consider my mother’s life and my own as both a reaction to, and
completion of, hers. My mother came out of
that generation born in the Depression, their lives upended by the Second World
War. Their thirst for experience, for travel, was whetted by the global upheaval
– pins in world maps for the missing brothers, letters from distant ports –
I've been touring around with Hotel Worthysince it was released in March. I've read at Piccolo Spoleto and gotten to know beautiful Charleston, SC. It was a hot July Sunday when I read in the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series in Rock Creek Park - a real pleasure to join Grace Cavalieri for the first time.
Always, whether the event is large or small, local or distant, a
poetry reading draws the "People of the Word," those who treasure language and make the effort to seek it out in a noisy world. New friends and old - always the chance to make that connection.
I am looking forward to reading Oct. 9 for the Center for Women Writers at Salem College, then Oct. 10 in Fairmont, WV, for the 34th Kestrel Festival. It's hard to believe that it has been 34 years, 34 festivals, since I met Marty Lammon and John King to discuss starting a magazine. Sadly, John is no longer with us.
There will be old friends at both places - and new ones. I am excited about the Cervantes festival …
I'm working on the novel a bit today. But I stopped to revise a poem while the words were fresh. I have two books partially read for reviews, another waiting attention for a blurb. And I must plan tomorrow's class. And winnow down that big pile of manuscripts for the first of three contests I'm judging over the next six weeks.
How to focus!
It seems so much like piecing. I remember both grandmothers making quilts, cutting all those tiny scraps from outgrown dresses or remnants from other projects. Triangles and squares cut then sewn into larger patterns, and then those blocks assembled into one great project to fling across a bed. They kept those grand patterns in mind as they interrupted their work for the hundred other tasks of a day around farm and home and garden and children. The color and order must have given their minds a place to settle when everything was in a whirl.
How to keep it all in mind!
And I think of my many years as a reporter, never with the luxury to …