Tag Archives: POETRY

#Sage One-Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth Marshall and I first met online years ago because of  our love of poetry and common Christian faith. Last April we finally hugged each other in person at a Christian writer’s conference but the time was much too brief. (There was an impending ice storm and everyone was scurrying to get home.)

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Elizabeth is a talented photographer with a stunning eye for beauty and weaves words on the page as well. As another #SageOne, a faith writer over 50, I am pleased for you to know her and discover her latest endeavor, the Peabiddies Podcast, Pursuing the Art of Noticing. Learning keeps us young, I’ve found, and Elizabeth proves it. In my (long distance) interview we talk about the challenges of a new frontier and how walking with Jesus looks different in every age and stage of life. (oh, and about peacocks!)

Please welcome Elizabeth Marshall.

  1. Tell us a little about your educational background, any degrees, and life experience.

    I earned a BA in History from Hollins University in Virginia in 1981. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that Annie Dillard, who is now a favorite writer of mine, had attended Hollins years earlier. My freshman dorm was named Tinker, which will have a familiar ring to it if you are at all familiar with Dillard’s work. She won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Although I clearly cannot change the past, it would have been lovely to have majored in English so I could have walked a step or two that Dillard walked. When I make lists of favorite authors, she is at the top.
    2. What was your first career?
    After graduating from college, I headed to New York to work for Young & Rubicam advertising agency on Madison Avenue. I worked for Y&R as a media planner and media supervisor for close to five years. Since moving to South Carolina, I’ve worked for a magazine as the Advertising Director, I’ve owned a small business, and I’ve worked as a realtor. I look back and believe that while my time living in Manhattan in New York had its difficulties for this young woman from the South, it taught me invaluable lessons about life, business, and marketing.
    Although I enjoyed aspects of my life there, I certainly was cured of any desire for city life long term. Living here in a small shrimping village, one without a stoplight, provides the perfect antidote to that fast-paced season of my life. I believe everything that was challenging and difficult about that first career has provided threads to pull from in my life as a writer and creative. Perhaps it goes without saying, but I prefer the pace of this village in the South Carolina Lowcountry to Manhattan.
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    3. How and why did you decide to start a podcast? And tell us about the name “Peabiddies.”
    My decision to dive into podcasting was based on several factors. And honestly, the further I get into developing this project, the more clearly I see that it provides a valuable piece to the puzzle of my writing and creative life. Weaving together the music, my narration segments and monologues, as well as the interview portions with the show’s guests brings a dimension to my life as a writer that stretches and challenges me. The writing life, by definition, is often marked by periods of solitude as we dig down deep into our writing projects. The weekly podcast provides me an opportunity to pivot, shift gears and use a different part of my creative brain.
    The themes of my podcast, pursuing the art of noticing and discovering beauty, awe, and wonder, allow me to dovetail or underscore if you will,  themes found in my poetry and non-fiction work, all infused with the understanding of God in the midst.
    About the name: I have always loved the process of naming things. In this case I was looking for a podcast moniker which did not already exist in the podcast world, one that was unique, that I enjoyed repeating, and that had personal significance. (Perhaps it’s no surprise that there is alliteration in the title with the presence of three “p” words). My hope was there’d be many opportunities to say the name, so I’d need to be very fond of it. Finding something that was playful and whimsical was important too. One day I stumbled on the word “peabiddies” while reading a Flannery O’Connor book. Peabiddies are the chicks or baby peafowl of the peacock and peahen, and since I’ve always had a crazy love of peacocks, it seemed a perfect fit.  I hope Peabiddies stays around for a good long while.
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    4. Practical question–do you write your program content out first before you start recording? It sounds very well thought out!
    For now at least in these early stages, it’s best for me to type out most of what I want to record of my voice for Peabiddies. When I am interviewing guests, I type out my questions or have a guideline to follow. I want the podcast to evolve organically, to sound natural and to flow. I have a lot of work to do in all areas, that’s for sure. But my goal is for it to flow in such a way that the listener has the sense that he or she is listening to a conversation, or is a part of a conversation.
    The learning curve is fairly steep and I have tremendous room for improvement and for refinement. But I can say I am having fun and truly enjoying the process of learning all the nuances of the medium. The most important thing for me is for the listeners to enjoy what I am producing—find something of real value. My hope is that the podcast episodes are stimulating, interesting, fun, and draw the listeners in again and again. I want this to be a place that flings the door open in a hospitable way. Here is where my southern roots come in a bit with a graciousness that feels welcoming. As I said earlier, there is room for improvement as I build a library of episodes. Hopefully, the listener will see us grow and improve in what we offer as time goes on.
    5. Since you are a believer in Christ, how does your faith inform your work on the podcast, either behind the scenes or in front of the microphone?
    My faith certainly impacts my work. My hope and desire is for the two to be seamlessly connected. I believe it is important for me to pray over these words and these projects of mine, and to be continually seeking God’s guidance as I discern how to navigate my way through my creative life.
    I’m very fortunate to be in a small writers group where three women share a love of writing and our Christian faith and beliefs. We pray regularly for one another— over the writing projects we are involved with—providing encouragement and support for one another’s work. All of my creative projects are run through the sieve of my belief that God has called me to this life of being a writer and that He alone sustains me and gives me the passion for my work, my art.
    You can listen to Peabiddies Podcast – Pursue the Art of Noticing on iTunes, Anchor.fm,  Google podcasts or Stitcher radio.
    Elizabeth’s website is here.
    You can find her on Instagram at @peabiddiespodcast and @Elizabethwynnemarshall

#Sage One-Susan Mulder

I finally met Susan Mulder live and in person last April at a Christian writer’s gathering in Michigan. I’d been following her beautiful work on social media via Instagram and loved the vignettes she ‘painted’ with her camera. Susan is my first official interview for The Sage Ones–Christian women with wisdom and encouragement to pass on to the next generation, beautiful, varied examples of how to live out faith in Jesus with the gifts God has given us.

Susan’s recently embarked on a new endeavor–podcasting–fleshing out another adventure. Please welcome Susan Mulder.

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  1. I know you’re a trained artist and busy grandparent. Tell us about that balancing act.

I have a terminal degree in fine arts-which is a fancy way of saying I have an MFA with an emphasis in painting. I really see myself as more of creator because I work in multiple media ranging from oil painting, mixed media, performance, sculpture to where I am now, working with the written word. I have exhibited extensively and after a self-imposed (see below) break I have slowly re-entered the exhibition circuit showing this summer, with two exhibitions coming in the spring.

I am currently on a fast track program for grand-parenting. I’ve gone from three grands to six grands in the last 5 months and help care for them while their parents work. (Not all at the same time!)  When I walked away from my dream job teaching at the college level 4 years ago (long story and this is where the radical obedience part of what I do comes in) I committed to pouring into my family by helping care for these little ones. I take it very seriously-this is relational development at its foundational level. I have one opportunity with each of these littles to build something that will last a lifetime and I am all in.

Yes, Mother Said, 36″ x 36″, Oil, Acrylic, Spray Paint on Designer Fabric, S. Mulder

2. Now you’ve jumped into podcasting. Did you have any prior careers?

Yes, I have had several iterations occupationally. I’ve served as an educator both at the collegiate level and as an independent visual arts instructor at arts institutions and out of my home studio. I’ve presented at conferences, taught public speaking, and best business practices for artists. I also have experience in non-profit development and leadership with non-profit arts organization for marginalized youth and worked on organizational development within the church.

And just for fun, one of my favorite roles was as an assistant sushi chef. I love to try new things and say yes to new opportunities which has provided me with some very rich experiences!

  1. How and why did you decide to start Poet Kind podcast?

As I mentioned earlier, I see it as an act of radical obedience. I can tell you what I was doing, even what I was wearing when the words ‘you are finished here’ echoed internally and I knew God was telling me to leave my “dream job” that I had worked so hard for. As much as I wanted to shake it off, it became more and more apparent that my full attention and obedience was the only thing He would accept.  My entire being wanted to teach and leaving that position was one of the hardest things I have done. I felt like a monumental failure yet there was always the reassurance of that clear voice telling me otherwise.

As for starting Poet Kind-that was another prompting-but one of generation, not of letting go. The idea of doing a podcast had popped in and out of my mind but I never took it seriously, even when others suggested I do so. It seemed foolish to do something like a podcast with no platform, no built-in audience and no background. Then, there was another moment-the kind that requires an action, a stepping out, an obedience.  It seemed a little far-fetched that this was what God was suggesting; I have a hard enough time calling myself a poet and the idea of being a podcaster bordered on funny. However, I figured if He was going to ask me to step so far outside my little world that 1) He has a sense of humor, and 2) Why not? What was there to lose?

The learning curve has been steep but is more fun than I could have imagined. As long as I am confident I’m doing what I have been asked to do and there is joy present, I’ll keep it podcasting.   As for the title, Poet Kind, it came from a very light-hearted conversation; when asked what kind of podcast I would do, I jokingly said a “poet kind.”

4. How do you choose the poetry to feature on Poet Kind?

In choosing content I consider topics that come up in ordinary conversations, thinking perhaps if the people around me are wondering about these ideas maybe others are as well. Right now, the majority of what I read on the podcast comes from the public domain-which does limit my selections, but my hope is that I will have enough original content coming in, eventually, to feature and provide a platform for poets to get their work out there.

Poet Talk, which is a monthly feature on Poet Kind, is another way to offer poets a place to feature their work. It also gives listeners a chance to peek behind the curtain and learn more about the writers, their motivations and, and processes. I invite poets on the program the same way I select poetry to feature.  I do my best to get a feel for their work through their submission profile and the strength of their work. Does the work function on more than just surface, does it provoke thought beyond merely what it says?  Occasionally I reach out to specific poets because I am familiar with their writing and know that they would be a great fit.

  1. Since you are a believer in Christ, how does your faith inform your work on the podcast, either behind the scenes or in front of the microphone?

I have a deeply embedded philosophy when it comes to this. Though I do make very direct references to religious/spiritual ideas, concepts and questions in my writing that I wouldn’t make in my painting, I don’t call myself a Christian writer. I am a Christian who happens to be a writer and that faith enters into everything I do. The decisions I make for Poet Kind can’t help but be infused with my personal influences. What I read, what I know, and what I believe are integrated within the entire process. Were I to attempt to sift out any of those ingredients it wouldn’t be possible to offer something truly authentic. It is far from perfect, to be sure, and there is a lot of room for growth, but that is part of the process too!

When it comes to Poet Kind, I would hope the way I conduct myself reflects my beliefs. I want the podcast to be a place of hospitality, encouragement, maybe even a respite. Life is busy so if in a few minutes once a week, someone can find a place to take a deep breath or think differently just for a moment, then it’s a good thing.

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You can find Poet Kind podcast on  the Anchor app on your phone or tablet, as well as Google Podcasts, iTunes and Stitcher.

Here is a link to some of Susan’s artwork   and her thoughts on Christian art.

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Begin Again {a #poem}

2015-10-09 07.06.05.jpgSeptember’s singular day arrives with the turning
of many pages, paper or otherwise. Limbs of another
rich and growing year branch upward, leading
to vistas bright and unknown. I climb, grateful
for handholds, eyes on the open, azure sky.
Did Eden’s first morning in that tree-filled glade
startle the couple awake, their eyes on a new dawn?
Burst with the gift of hope, that unknown need of a
fresh start? I say yes.
This new day, like that one, rich with possibilities
awaits as we journey. Now at a walk (or sometimes fly)
and fall, sure of a steady Hand to right us.
Our steps re-turned to the Kingdom, the sound
of that Voice birthed each day anew in the blazing
blue that calls towards home.
-Jody Lee Collins c. 2017

 

May, March and April in Books #ReadUpstream

In keeping with the inauguration of the #ReadUpstream movement, I’m going to speak a little about what I’ve been reading and maybe entice you to do your own reading ‘upstream’; i.e. choosing classics and good books that speak to your heart, even if no one else is reading them. More about the origin of #ReadUpstream is here.

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When it comes to those things that bring me joy, I’m not sure whether I fancy birds or books more. Perhaps equally. I have books with ‘birds’ in the title melding those two—a love of reading and a fascination with my avian friends. There is much I learn from both—life lessons from the birds, echoing God’s message of carefree, trust-filled living and lessons in the lines of the many books that populate my home.

I often am reading many books at one time, which is why the title of this post is “March, April and May in Books.” There are many books that continue to engage me, but I will attempt to whittle down the list to include some of my current favorites.

  1. Fierce Convictions—The Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, Karen Swallow Prior

I first learned the name of Hannah More in the film ‘Amazing Grace’ (2006) about William Wilberforce and his campaign against the slave trade. There was a small part played by a feisty young woman named Hannah, whose name I catalogued for later. The later arrived with the release in 2014 of this book by Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English at Liberty University.

Hannah More’s life was set in the backdrop of Bristol, England in the early 1700’s, a historical period that was the height of the slave trade in Europe. I’ve only just begun reading how Hannah and her sisters started a school for women, an outright novelty for the day and age, as well as learning of the unheard of practice for her to spend time–imagine this–writing in a place of her own-mostly poetry. This particular privilege was made possible by the allowance of kind benefactor who was a previous suitor.

Hannah and I have much in common—a love of writing and reading and a background in education. Of course, the part we don’t share is an experience in opposing the slave trade. That tale is ahead of me in this book and I look forward to reading it.

Continue reading

Anna Waits-An Advent Poem

Light is coming
she’d heard and read
and widowed, she had
nothing calling her name
but His across the years
like an echo from The Garden
so long ago.
She’d been seeking
(was He hiding?),
determined she was–
for what else was her life
but this–
an always looking
in the temple courts
trusting the doorway would
be darkened some day
when Light came into the room.
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St. Joseph’s Abbey, Covington, LA. Photo is mine, jlc. 
Title taken from this passage in the gospel of Luke

The Traveling Mischief Cafe–Tweetspeak Poetry

I love fall and the opportunity for coziness and connection that it affords. A few Novembers ago I had the pleasure of hosting the diminuitive L.L. Barkat, a woman with a contagious laugh, a love of poetry and instigator of the Mischief Cafe–sort of a traveling road show with tea, toast and poetry. Laura and I had connected online and had never met before this occasion but when I read she’d be taking the cafe idea on the road I contacted her and extended an invitation. The Mischief Cafe idea originated with the Tweetspeak Poetry community, which L.L. founded, and came about from a Facebook conversation which morphed (156 comments later) into a book, complete with found poems, blank pages and poetry prompts as well. The blank pages are my favorite. You can read more about Mischief Cafe’s origins here.

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With an event like a Mischief Café happening right in your own home (well, my kitchen,too) one would expect laughter.  Even if the guests included (almost) complete strangers whom you’d actually never met in real life.
So, with a feather boa and my Mischief Café volume handy, I was looking forward to some fun. We were duly rewarded. There were some uproarious guffaws from a couple of guests (I’m not naming names) as publishing stories were shared and hearts were bared.

While I expected a congenial time (I enjoy having guests in my home—even if they’re—ahem, an hour and a half early) but the ease with which said total strangers made themselves at home was a gift and a surprise.

Laura (L.L.) and I had time to cover ground in person that we’d only typed out between us. Our conversation was like that between old friends, friends I knew well but hadn’t seen in a long while. Friends who shared a love of poetry and writing and mischief (oh, and tea).
photo by LL Barkat,
(l to r) Laura Smedley, Kimberlee Conway Ireton, moi, Jennifer Wagner(Poet Laundry)

 

And we had tea….with cinnamon toast, buttered very liberally by L.L. She made herself completely at home in my kitchen and chatted as if we’d been doing it all our lives.
That was a blessed surprise.

Kimberlee stole my feather boa…Jennifer and Laura smiling,
LL being elusive

I was also surprised to be intrigued rather than repelled (as I was on my first read) by the form and sound of a sestina.  As L.L. read aloud one of her poems, I found myself listening to the words as they looped through the air, trailing each other in conjoined phrases, like links in a chain holding a golden key at the end.  I felt like the puzzle of the form had been unlocked as I listened.

I was left feeling I might actually try to write one soon.
This graphic below was a huge help, and also inadvertently illustrates the sound of Laura’s voice reading a selection from her book ‘Love, Etc.’ the poem, ‘Petit a Petit L’oiseau fait son nid’
If you’d like to know more about Tweetspeak Poetry or how to order your copy of ‘Mischief Cafe’, click here.