Last Thursday we had a successful Poetry in the Garden event, hosted by the Saginaw Art Museum, featuring both the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and poet Arra Lynn Ross! We're grateful for the nearly 50 community members who listened, read, and celebrated poetry with us in the lovely Museum gardens.
Check out the Saginaw Art Museum's Facebook page for more photos of this wonderful event!
“A few years ago, we lost the pear tree in our backyard. A storm came in and split the tree down the middle, landing one large limb on the roof of our back porch and exposing the rotten wood inside the trunk. Despite my best efforts to save it, the tree had been eaten from the inside by disease and had to be removed, cut down to the stump.
“I loved this tree; in fact, I sometimes would joke it was one of the reasons we bought the house. Its branches spanned a large portion of my backyard, and in the spring, it was were covered with delicate white flowers. The tree really didn’t bear much fruit, but it was lovely to look at: a large, tall, and graceful thing.
“When the tree came down, I was devastated. (I actually started looking for other houses online that afternoon.) Our backyard looked so barren and void, naked really. But my husband, ever-wise, cautioned patience. Wait and see what grows, he said. And so I did.
“This past summer, I watched the plants that had always stood underneath the pear tree’s shade grow and thrive. A hydrangea bush doubled in size and gave us large fluffy blooms. A forsythia bush stretched up and over the fence. And a clematis spilled bright purple flowers over a nearby post. There is still the stump from the tree on the ground, but the myrtle has begun to cover it over, and now, this spring, it’s become hard to even see where the tree once was.
“The loss of this tree seems like an apt metaphor for this past year. It’s been year marked by loss, filled with things I will never recover. But we all understand these losses, since all of us have had people or things we cared for deeply taken from us through this pandemic.
“But I will say that I have been able to witness also the strength and resiliency of our writers. Many of you showed up for online writing consultations, talking through your drafts of poems, resumes, or short essays. Others came to our writing workshops, turning on your screens to learn how to publish your writing, craft a scholarship essay, or begin to write a memoir. Despite having a year that no one would wish for, you and your writing grew because you cared enough to give your words and ideas attention and care. And this work matters, because your words matter – not just to yourself, but to all of us. For these reasons, I am grateful to our writers who are part of this community writing center.”
Chris and Helen write:
“And we are pleased to continue to share our work online, including our upcoming writing workshops on writing resumes and cover letters, mindfulness writing, and an intro to memoir and intro to poetry (the latter taught by two Michigan published authors). And don’t forget our upcoming “Poetry in the Garden” event, in partnership with the Saginaw Art Museum, featuring a night of Michigan authors reading their work – and an opportunity to share your own writing as well! And, of course, we continue to offer the opportunity to receive feedback on your own writing through an individual consultation, which you can set up on our website, communitywritingcenter.com.
“This month, we’d like to recommend a few books for your reading pleasure: first, All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds, which also happens to be a community read book for Bay County (sign up for a book discussion this month here). This book tells the story of a violent incident at a high school and its aftermath, told from the perspective of a black and a white boy. This is a good example of the power of alternative narrative voice, and it engages all of us in an important conversation about race in America. We’d also recommend Sparrows and Dust by Zilka Joseph as our poetry collection, a light and lovely collection of poems about birds and the nature of our world, with the title poem first printed by SVSU in the 2018 Roethke calendar. We’ve realized that we’ve been ignoring drama, so we also recommend Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, which, with its focus on family and race, makes for an interesting companion to All American Boys. Finally, our book on writing is Bret Lott’s Before We Get Started, an honest and humorous look at the writerly life.”
That’s all for now. Stay safe, and keep writing!
Helen and Chris