Soon it will be summer and that means off once again to the Fine Arts Work Center in P'town. This year, I'm taking a weeklong workshop with poet Jean Valentine.
My first semester in the MFA program at American U, I studied with Jean. She was thoughtful and kind. An inspiration. When a student handed something out, she'd say in her soft voice, "Well, how do we do with this one?" People were careful with their criticism as if they knew the muse was easily scared off.
That class was my first attempt at writing poetry. Agonizing sometimes because I didn't know the easy, simple words in my head were worth putting down on paper. I looked for difficult words, inexplicable imagery, sticks and stones from the side of the road.
I forgave myself for that a long time ago. As a matter of fact, I'm grateful I had the courage to take that chance. I was a single mother with two small children, and I sold my house to be there in that program. Proof enough my heart was in the right place.
I wrote my very first poem, "Leaves," when I was 9. I wrote it out in longhand on tan tablet paper with lines I drew with my little pencil-case ruler. I made about $3 selling the poem to my relatives for 25 cents a copy.
Know what? That was a lot of money to make for one poem.
Thanks to my Uncle Rollo and his thoughtful way with children's treasures, I still have an original signed copy. I'll post it one day when blogs become little goldmines of memories. Or has that already happened?