Monday, July 25, 2011

ALCHEMY

“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There’s a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts…” – Joseph Campbell, writing in A Joseph Campbell Companion

When I was eleven years old, sitting at an old wooden desk bolted to the floor in a small-town schoolhouse (just one serious girl among a bunch of pre-adolescent kids in Sleepy Land, I might add), I wrote my first poem. It was one of the few rhyming poems I’ve written during my lifetime, and I can remember only a few lines about “my home away from the town’s noisy din,/away from the roar of the cotton gin…” Yes, I know, there was a lot of room for improvement there!

I didn’t know Joseph Campbell existed or that he would speak to me in the above quotation about the hero’s journey many years later; that on two occasions, he’d reinforce the adventure of poetry that, for me, began at age eleven and now defines my authentic writing life.

At 76 years of age, I ponder Campbell’s words again, hoping that I’ve moved out and found a way for the domain of literature to receive what I’ve been given to give, that there’s “enough of me there” and that I’ve served life in one of the ways it is to be served–using the gift of poetry. Perhaps at 80, I will announce, as Confucius did, “I know my ground and stand firm.”

Alchemy, my 29th book publication and my 13th book of poetry to be published, will appear in a few weeks. I’m hoping that this poetry about the Louisiana oil spill… a fellow poet… a Haitian orphan… ruminations about nature, animals, death, and philosophical questions will find its way onto your bookshelves. The cover painting for Alchemy was rendered by my brother Paul and designed by my grandson Martin.

The book can be ordered from Border Press, P. O. Box 3124, Sewanee, Tennessee 37375 or online at www.amazon.com after 15 August 2011.

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