April 12, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Poetry Month Issue 21

It's Day 21 of National Poetry Month. I'm blogging from sunny Bradenton, Florida -- spending spring break with my family.

Three generations living in the same house:  my parents, my husband and me, and my children. With a teenager in the mix, and my father about to celebrate his 70th birthday, relationships are in a state of flux.

At last weekend's Baltimore CityLit Festival, we had a panel discussion about our new poetry anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire -- which features love poems by Maryland poets.

Panelist Barbara Westwood Diehl wrote the introduction to the "Friends and Family" section of Life in Me. It was interesting to hear what she had to say -- that family relationships are complicated things.

That is the case in Sue Ellen Thompson's poem, "Napping." She captures a shift in the relationship between mother and daughter.

My mother, who had walked six miles,
six days a week for years, knew
that her life was ending.  One day she smiled
at me and said, “I’m not in the mood
for walking today.  I think I’ll take
a nap instead.” She never napped
before lunch.  But how else could she say
it?  All morning she lay wrapped
in an afghan on the sofa, her eyes intent
upon a pattern taking shape in the air. 

Read the rest of the poem at Sue Ellen's website.

If you're local to Maryland, Sue Ellen is teaching some workshops in May at the Writers' Center's new Annapolis satellite location.

Sue Ellen's poem, "Shaken," is the source of the poetry anthology's title: Life in Me Like Grass on Fire.

Writing Exercise:
Sometimes it is the small moments that signify large changes in people.

For my 14 year-old son, a disappearing act during my high school friend's visit with her kids told me he'd hit the in-betweens -- not comfortable playing with the children, not comfortable chatting with the adults.

In "Napping," the nap itself is the signifier of a shift in the mother.

Can you pinpoint a small moment that marked a change in a family member?

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