SEPTEMBER 26, 2012: Announcing New Website for Poet Mary MacRae

 

The deeper I go into Mary MacRae’s poems the more spacious my own world becomes. Anne Cluysenaar

The English poet Mary MacRae died of cancer in 2009. Were it not for the love and commitment of her poet-friends at Second Light Network, we might not have the gift of her poetry to savor in our quiet moments. Poet, teacher and consultant to Second Light Network, Myra Schneider  wrote and asked me to let you know that they have established a website for Mary.

The wide range of poems in Inside the Brightness of Red includes poignant work written when she was terminally ill but also beautiful lyric poems about childhood, youth, relations with parents, marriage, friendship and her responses to art and nature. Dilys Wood

Mary’s love of life … of nature, birds, flowers, gardens, art and family and friends are evident in precise multicolored layers of her work. She was published in several prestigious literary magazines.

Her enormous warmth and zest for life were balanced with a sensitivity and deep compassion that invited many to confide in her, came into play in her perceptive and incisive criticism and pervaded her poems. Lucy Hamilton

Mary won two poetry prizes: Scintilla magazine’s Long Poem Competition and a joint first prize in the Second Light Poetry Competition. Her work is included in the second Poetry School Anthology, Entering the Tapestry (Enitharmon Press 2003) and in Four Caves of the Heart (Second Light Publications, 2004). Second Light published two collections of Mary’s poems: Inside the Color of Red and As Birds Do. 

To read a small selection of Mary MacRae’s poems – of special note is Jury – link HERE.  You can buy Mary’s two poetry collections through the website.

With permission I published the following poem before on this blog and I post it again as an example of Mary’s work. Please enjoy, but remember that it is copyrighted with all rights reserved. It belongs to Mary’s estate. This poem is from Inside the Color of Red. 

Note: I have also put a link to Mary’s site, Myra’s site, and to Second Light Network in my blogroll under Poets and Friends, which a new and developing section of my blogroll.

ELDER

by Mary MacCrae

·

A breathing space:

the house expands around me,

·

unfolds elastic lungs

drowsing me back

·

to other times and rooms

where I’ve sat alone

writing, as I do now,

when syncope –

·

one two three one two –

breaks in;

·

birdcall’s stained

the half-glazed door with colour,

·

enamelled the elder tree

whose ebony drops

·

hang in rich clusters

on shining scarlet stalks

·

while with one swift stab

the fresh-as-paint

·

starlings get to the heart

of the matter

of matter

·

in a gulp of flesh

and clotted juice that leaves me

·

gasping for words transparent

as glass, as air.

© poem and photograph, Estate of Mary MacRae, all rights reserved

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK

Dilys Wood

Dilys Wood is poet, editor and convenor of Second Light Network of Women Poets. She has edited four anthologies of women’s poetry, mainly with Myra Schneider and has published two collections of poetry, Women Come to a Death and Antarctica.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS

(SLN)

by

Dilys Woods 

I founded Second Light (SLN), a network of over 300 women poets aged over forty, in 1994. We followed this forteen years later with ARTEMISpoetry, a journal for women’s poetry.

The best feedback for me is that a group of members have met informally or that two members are exchanging poems. Other good news is of members’ successes in national competitions and enthusiastic reports of our annual events, including a poetry competition, two-day festivals in London (Spring and Autumn), and an residential course.

SLN events are supportive. The tone is constructive.There is no put-down for those over 50, over 70, or over 90. We welcome younger women poets as Associate Members.

The inspiration for Second Light was that vibrant, exciting work is absolutely not sex or age-related. Probably all serious editors and organisers know this, but some number-crunchers are obsessed with youth, trendiness, or any kind of gimic. There may be reverence for famous older poets, but the pattern of women’s lives may mean that a woman may be a ‘new poet’, just starting to publish, at any time up to old age.

The other aspect of SLN’s work – aspiration – was latent in the original mission and has flourished because so many members are talented and ambitious.We play to these strengths by choosing distinguished poets to lead workshops and to contribute to ARTEMISpoetry. We also regularly interview and review for the magazine important women poets not born in/living in the UK.

Five anthologies and three individual collections show-case members’ work. Each member may post a poem and CV details on our website (www.secondlightlive.co.uk). ARTEMISpoetry – open to any woman poet to submit – carries many poems and we offer far more reviews of women’s collections than most magazines.

For more details of SLN see our website HERE.


SATURDAY ReVIEW: Writing Your Self, Transforming Personal Material

Copyrighted cover art, fair use.

We wrote the book because we believe that personal writing is very potent both for the writer and the reader, because some of the greatest literature is rooted in personal material. Myra Schneider in an interview HERE.

The subtitle of this book about personal writing is “transforming personal material.”  I think it is implicitly also about personal transformation. It always seems to me that writing and reading about life is a healing activity, a way to live hugely, and a way to empower ourselves and others. If we can do it well enough to engage others, whether our purpose is to leave a record behind for family, to set the record straight, or simply to share and entertain, the experience is rewarding.

Writing Your Self is the most comprehensive book of its type that I’ve yet to read, and I’ve read many. It is organized in two parts:

  • Part I: Here the focus is on life experiences, the exploration of those human experiences that are universal. These include childhood, self-conceptions, relationships, displacement, physical and mental illness and disability, and abuse.
  • Part II: Here the focus is on writing techniques, recognizing material that is unfinished, working on refinements, and developing work projects.

Writing Your Self is rich with examples from known and unknown writers including the authors. By example as well as explanation the authors reinforce what we all intuitively understand to be true: that telling stories preserves identity and clarifies the human condition. It helps us understand what it means to be human. The experience of working through the book was something like a rite of passage.

I very much can see the use of this book by individuals training themselves and by teachers of adult learners who wish to write memoir, poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction. It would be useful in hospital therapeutic writing programs or in writing programs for active seniors.

Memories, both recent and distant, tell us who we are and so play a crucial role in our experience of life…

You may have memories which you want to plunge into or you may have material like a diary or letters which summon them up. There are other ways though of triggering memories. We offer a series of suggestions. Chapter 13, Accessing memories, secret letters, monologues and dialogues, visualizations.

I think Chapter 13 alone is worth the price of admission. I work a lot off of childhood memories and even the event that happened two minutes ago comes back to me with a dreamlike quality when I sit to write. I have not thought of the things I do naturally as triggers, but indeed they are. It was quite interesting to see these natural aids laid-out and organized on the page to read: objects and place as starting points, physical sensation as triggers, people in memory, and predominant feelings. The section on secret letters – that is, letters that you write someone and never send – was particularly interesting. I’ve only done this twice in my life, but I know some folks who do it all the time. I’m sure it is a common practice and would make a fine jumping-off point for some. The authors go on to monologues and dialogues – now everyone does that in their heads – and visualization. Hey, if you can see it, you can write it.

I’m an experienced writer and I enjoyed the book and the exercises and learned a few new things, got a few new ideas. If you are inexperienced or stuck midway in a transition from one form of writing to another, you’ll benefit from the exercises, ideas, and instruction in Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Experience. This one’s a definite thumbs-up.

Myra Schneider  is a British poet, a poetry and writing tutor, and author of the acclaimed book: Writing My Way Through Cancer. Your can visit her HERE.

John Killick was a teacher for 30 years, in further, adult and prison education, but has written all his life. His work includes both prose works and poetry. You can visit him HERE.