Monday, February 18, 2013

'Strengthening My Voice As a Poet'

Poetry isn't a profession.  It's a way of life.  It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that. ~ Mary Oliver

Our About the Authors series continues with Harriet Singer.

It came on me at 3 a.m. one Thursday morning. A partial poem was swirling around in my head like a television jingle that wouldn't let go. The only way to go back to sleep was to get up and write it down.

That was three years ago. I had never written poetry before; didn’t even read it. But suddenly I had to put words on paper even though I had no idea what I was doing. I felt driven to learn more about writing poems.

The first workshop I attended was for an entire weekend led by a well-known published poet. To this day I have no idea what possessed me to enroll. The other participants had been writing for years. Years!!

Some of them had been published in literary journals and magazines as well as on-line. Then there was me with five months of attempting to write something meaningful. Needless to say, I felt totally intimidated. But the verses kept coming. I needed help. I tried adult education classes without success. The other members in the classes did not have the same commitment to writing that I was developing. For them this was something they dabbled in; a casual hobby. For me writing was becoming an essential part of my being.

I looked into writers’ groups in the area. Meetings always seemed to be at the wrong time, wrong day, miles away. Just when I was despairing of ever finding a group, I received an email with a link to the Women’s Writing Circle. Meetings were twice a month Saturday mornings, fifteen minutes from my house. I could do this! My first meeting convinced me I was in the right place. I found a group of women writers ready to tell their story, each in her own way. It was a safe and supportive environment in which to read my work and strengthen my voice as a poet.


Until I joined the Circle very few people had read or heard my words. Attending the read-arounds gave me the courage to share my work. I also started telling friends and family that I write poetry. So when I had the opportunity to be part of the anthology I jumped in with both feet. (And a case of nerves.)

Three of my poems are in Slants of Light. "My Mother Never Told Me" was a phrase that popped into my head while I was driving. By now I was familiar with the symptoms so I knew it was the start of a poem. My initial reaction was surprise. I thought all that “mother stuff” had been resolved years ago. As the poem evolved I realized this wasn’t about blame but rather the recognition of all I have experienced and learned. My mother never would have found peace in silence, or looked to nature for wisdom. I now understand my mother’s path was very different from my own.

As a hospice volunteer I have seen wonderful people die much too young. The poem "Some Day…Soon" speaks to this. I used to see my life as stretching out like a weaving of colors and patterns that went on forever. It doesn’t. It can’t. Some day is now.

The third poem in the anthology is the recent situation of writing to a deadline. I never had to write to a deadline. Up until now, I had the luxury of writing and revising as long as I wanted. Sitting in front of the computer forcing words that aren’t there is devastating. "My Lost Art" examines the panic that I felt.
 
Working on Slants of Light has been challenging and exhilarating. I feel honored to be a part of this compilation of stories and poems.

Fifteen women speak;
A creative collection
infused with our souls.”

Harriet Singer was born and raised in New York City. She lived and worked in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years before moving back East in 2007. Harriet is an Energy Healer and volunteers with a local hospice. Slants of Light is her first publication and she hopes it's not her last.
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