I once planted poems throughout my town (Duluth, MN) when I contributed to a Local Free Poetry project. Our poet laureate at the time scattered hard copies of poems by local poets in area businesses. I submitted four poems. One of them was entitled, “Perfunctory Kisses.” The short (8-line) poem detailed how I dislike kisses that don’t mean anything. I might want to publish it somewhere in the future, so I won’t share the whole thing here, but just let me say that the first line is: Perfunctory kisses suck.
I know, not exactly subtle, but I like my poetry to be accessible. 😊
Last summer, I received an email through my author website from a woman who lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She said my poem captivated her when she found it. She used it as a reading at her recent wedding – her groom read it to her before they exchanged vows.
“Your short poem offered a sharp and punchy contrast to some of the more traditional readings of the ceremony,” she said. “We heard gasps of delight as the first line was read aloud. Let’s say, it was well received, as we knew it would be.” She ended with, “Thanks for your contribution to making our ceremony unique and memorable.”
Receiving her note made my day, my year! I’m tickled and honored that my poem landed on fertile ground and was used in such a personal way.
After my book launch this winter for “Meander North,” I heard from our friend, Sailor Dave, who connected with one of the stories I read about bunnies. Unlike with my poem, you can read this one because the book is made up from posts from this blog. (Seeing Rabbits) It explores the thought that rabbits might be guardians of our sleep.
Dave lives in a tiny house at a local marina. He said, “I wanted to tell you that I had a “pandemic bunny” living under my house last winter, too. When listening to Marie read the story, I was anticipating a dark turn, with Russ finding a great “New York Times” rabbit stew recipe that he was dying to try. Of course, it took a more spiritual turn and I found myself wondering if my rabbit would return. I did leave veggies out now and then. And there were baby bunnies in the spring. After our last snow, I spotted fresh bunny tracks around the house. My guardian bunny has returned! Probably under the house right now, waiting for me to go to sleep.”
Then there was a note I received through my website right after Christmas. A reader from Marshall, Minnesota, thanked me for writing my first novel, “Eye of the Wolf,” which deals with the wolves on Isle Royale National Park. He said it was, “An enjoyable foray into their lives and possibilities.”
Since my novel is rather old now (12 years), I asked him where he found it and he said it was in the library there. I let him know that there’s a sequel (“Plover Landing”), which he also ended up reading, and appreciated. I planted those copies in the town when I participated in a local arts board event years ago. So nice to learn they also found fertile ground!
I love these connections and I love it when readers take the time to send me their comments.
Russ and I were just listening to the latest episode of NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” show. Author George Saunders (“Lincoln in the Bardo”) was on it. During his interview he offered this thought on how to define a literary work: “Anything that connects people in a way that’s deeper than the usual way – habitual way we connect. That can be seen as literature.”
I’d also posit that literature connects through space and time. The good books will resonate into the future and across geography. I’m not really saying that my writing is great literature, but I’m always trying and am heartened by these little successes.
8 thoughts on “Connecting Through Writing”
This is a wonderful story about connections and writing! I love this line for its fine, understated humor: I know, not exactly subtle, but I like my poetry to be accessible.
You get me, Vickie. Ha ha!
How gratifying to receive that feedback! It reminds me of why I enjoy sharing my writing in reading workshops & classes. Aside from the helpful critiques, I liked hearing that my stories evoked memories or feelings from the reviewers.
Yes, sharing writing can be nerve-wracking, but I think it’s always worth it.
That is so nice Marie. When you put any kind of art or writing out into the world, there’s no telling how it will be received. I love these signs of “reception” for you.
So true. I’m always so impressed when readers take time out of their lives to comment. Writers need that feedback to keep doing what they are doing.
I love these stories, especially the one about the woman who used one of your poems at her wedding. What an honor!
I really think this is the reason that most writers write — to connect. And a desire for publication isn’t so much a desire for recognition or money (although these things are nice!!) but to make more connections, reach more readers. When I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of fan-fiction and even maintained a fan-fiction website. I remember feeling that, with the advent of the Internet, posting my fan-fiction was almost as good as being published. I never received a cent, but I got what I most craved, which was conversations and recognition from other people who loved the same things I did. I think writing fan-fiction and having that sense of a real audience at a young age is one of the things that really shaped my discipline as a writer.
Now that I have a mortgage and a couple kids and dreams for the future that involve stability, getting paid for my work is a bigger motivator than it used to be. But I still think it comes in second to making genuine connections.
Hi Lacey! Yeah, I could hardly believe my short little poem made it into someone’s wedding. You are spot-on about the connection thing. May you keep making those connections yourself, and make money at the same time. 🙂