My Reasons for Writing and Painting
I grew up in Kent, England, and came to America in 1970. I wrote my first poem up a tree when I was about eight. The memories of climbing, of being tucked inside the tree, the view across the green fields to the Kent oast-houses, gave me the urge to write something about all the beauty around me. Knowing that my spot was quite snug and I would outgrow it, that the branches would soon break under my weight, gave me a taste of mystery mixed with sadness that such moments never come back. This translated into nostalgia, especially when I left my home country for the States. Nostalgia, beauty, mystery, inspire me today to continue writing poetry and to paint the scenes around me.
I don’t remember what I wrote in my tree-nook; perhaps I lost the scrawl on a piece of paper. But I knew that the poem had given me a reason to push up the rough bark, through scratchy twigs, that the real poem was being there, not what ended up on paper later. Being there is the real poem. And of course I no longer climb a tree to write a poem, but starting a poem pushes me to the right nook, and then something about the view spills out onto paper. My poetry continually hunts for a rise of ground and a clearer view. Many of my recent poems, written after January 2012 when I suddenly lost my partner and soul-mate, try to make sense of the sudden disappearance of a beloved face, body, companion, and of the heart-wrenching loss that not only taints but enhances all the beauty around me.
My painting began after I arrived in the States — Alabama to be precise. I was so homesick for Kent countryside, for old churches and graveyards, for crooked cottages and winding lanes, that I had to paint my memories to stay connected to them. My first painting was of a stone cottage in the Cumberland hills.
Brief Bio (for my poetry and children's literature)
I received my Ph.D. in English in 1993 at the University of South Carolina while teaching as a part-time adjunct and raising four children.
I was given a publication award from the International Society of Poetry in 2004 for my poetry collection, Shadow Words (Watermark Press, 2006), and was the California State Poetry Society's 19th Annual Contest Winner in 2005. I was also winner of California State Poetry Society's monthly contest in January and October 2008. I was granted a John Woods fellowship from the Western Michigan University in 2008 for a poetry workshop in Prague. I have published several single poems in anthologies and literary journals. Remember Not to Forget is my second poetry collection. My third collection of poetry, is a gift book of short poems and paintings: Nostalgia, Poems and Paintings of Beauty, Love and Loss (Waldorf Publishing 2018) Poems are matched with my paintings of similar moods.
For the last eleven years, I have attended the San Miguel Poetry Week, at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, organized by Jennifer Clement and Barbara Sibley, where I have studied under such poets as Tony Hoagland, Robert Wrigley, Tony Barnstone, David St. John, and many other celebrated poets. I owe much of my inspiration and development as a poet to this incredible workshop.
Children's Novels and Chapter Books:
My children's middle grade novel "Lucy in her Secret Wood," is the first in my Lucy Series. Released in August, 2016, it has already won 7 awards, including the prestigious Eloquent Quill Award for Youth Fiction from Children's Literary Classics, the Gold Award from Literary Classics, and the Silver Award from Readers' Favorites. It was also a finalist in the 2022 Screencraft Cinematic Book Contest. Lucy Book 2 -- The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will, the sequel (Waldorf Publishing 2018) begins a few minutes after the end of Lucy Book 1. Both these children's novels are full of my paintings which add to the color and mystery of the events.
Luke Saves the Turtles, my chapter book (Waldorf Publishing 2018) is about a South Carolina boy who is chosen by Great Mother Turtle to protect her babies from being eaten or stolen. It is also full of my paintings.
The Mountain Boy (Summerland Publishing 2007) is about a California boy who saves a beautiful singing mountain stream from drying up.
2023: I have just completed a YA/Adult Novel - Zara the Gypsy Girl - which is set in the 1950's and 60's in Dartmoor, Devon UK. I am seeking an agent for this.
2023: I have also just completed my memoirs: The Pastoral Memories of a Child of Kent: Growing up in the English Countryside during the 1940's and 50's.
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