Poetry at Antioch Writer’s Workshop

This week, July 12-18, I’m attending Antioch Writer’s Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I’m learning a lot.
Today I learned about Minimal Poems from Chris DeWeese, an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Wright State University. Minimal poems can have as few as one word. That surprised me.
Christopher DeWeese

Christopher DeWeese

Chris invited us to write a poem with ten words or less. Here’s mine:

                I am who I am who I will be.

Honoring an Encourager

Encouragement from any source is like a drop of rain upon a parched desert. Thanks to all the many others who rained on me when I needed it, and even when I foolishly thought I didn’t.
Claire Gillian
Fifteen years ago, while listening to my daughter tell our story, Julie looked at me at least three times, stating, “You need to write a book about this.” Her words were like rain upon the parched desert of my life. Her encouragement stayed with me, giving me the confidence to begin and keep writing, to pitch to an agent, to explore paths to publication. Without her encouragement, I might not have experienced the healing balm of writing. I might never have heard a New York agent say, “Your story has a compelling narrative arch. Send me a proposal.”   
Julie is the nurse I first met on one of the most difficult days of my life. She was obviously a great nurse. She stayed two and a half hours beyond her twelve-hour shift out of concern for the outcome of that arduous day. She was too exhausted to continue her vigil, missing the passing of the height of the crisis and the awakening to grace. So, two days later, at the end of another twelve-hour shift, she visited us in another wing of the hospital to see how we were doing. She stayed an hour listening to my daughter relay the story.
A year ago, while writing A Long Awakening to Grace, I wandered around that floor of the hospital to refresh my memory. The women at the nurses’ station asked if they could help. They were very excited when I told them the reason for my visit. One of the nurses escorted me on a tour in search of the room we’d spent hours in so long ago. I gave them the names of the two nurses who had attended to us and told them about Julie encouraging me to write a book. Marlene had moved away, but they still had contact with Julie. She no longer works as a nurse, but they were sure she’d want to know that I’d followed her encouragement. I gave them my card and told them to have Julie call me.
She called just as I was heading out the door to a meeting. She indicated a desire to stay in touch, but was unavailable when I called back. A year went by with no contact.
Then, Sunday, June 22nd, I read with interest an article in the newspaper about David Beck, an actor, director, producer, composer, and scriptwriter. What a talented guy. His film, For Francis, was being previewed at the Neon movie on Thursday, June 26th. The film is a tribute to his junior high English teacher, one of his encouragers. The article said his teacher would be in attendance as would his mother, Julie Beck. I jumped for joy inside. Attending would provide an opportunity for me to reconnect with Julie.
Jacqui, my unofficially adopted daughter from Taiwan, is currently here for a visit. I was serving as her host mother during that time fifteen years ago. I invited her to come with me to the Neon. She enthusiastically agreed.
The theater was packed with David’s family and friends. Since I hadn’t seen her in fifteen years, I wasn’t sure I’d recognize Julie. Serendipitously, I sat next to someone who knew her well. Janet agreed to help me find her after the showing.
When she heard my name, Julie immediately recognized me and our connection. We hugged and chatted briefly about how proud she must be of her son. She seemed overjoyed to receive my new card and know about this blog. Before we parted, reaffirming our intention to stay in touch, I introduced her to Jacqui. I told her about our history and that Jacqui considers me to be her “American Mom.”
Her immediate response touched me deeply. “You have so much love to give.”
Julie & Linda at The Neon
As I drove back home, her remark stayed with me. It stays with me still. Fifteen years ago Julie witnessed me wrestling with how to extend “mother love” in a most challenging situation. She astutely recognized my struggle and extended reassurance to me and my daughter. Her support that day soothed my parched desert of guilt and shame.
“You have so much love to give” was like a period at the end of the shame attack I’d experienced following the Mad Anthony Writer’s Workshop. It is just the encouragement I need as I prepare to attend the Antioch Writer’s Workshop in mid July. I will remember her words as my writing and my character are critiqued in the memoir writing class.
I’ve had many encouragers in my life and I write about the significant ones in my memoir. Julie is one you will find there. I want to honor her here as well. Thank you, Julie, and the many others who have and continue to rain on me when I need it and even when I don’t think I do. You bring refreshing water to my parched desert restoring LIFE, and I am eternally grateful.