Hear Poetry of Presence editors Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson discuss the anthology with contributing poet Pat Schneider on “Poetry á la Carte,” hosted by the delightful Daisy Mathias. The half-hour interview was recorded in March, 2018, and broadcast in April on WMUA 91.1.FM, the voice of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
As editors of Poetry of Presence we take tremendous joy in hearing how readers are using the anthology. This story, gleaned by serendipity from Facebook, really brightened our day:
Cheryl Hale works in the activity department at One MacDonough Place, an assisted living facility in Middletown, CT. “I read poems from this anthology to the residents where I work. It’s such an inspiring, positive collection.”
One of the activities they offer the residents “is a program for expressing oneself through poetry. Sometimes we have them write with prompts and sometimes we share poetry with them. I love your book … as the collection of poems has examples from such a wide range of poets, with the focus being on mindfulness and being present in each moment. They enjoy it, as do I. Thank you!”
Cheryl says that one of her role models at the facility is named Phyllis, like one of us editors. “[She] writes, paints, participates in literally everything, [and] will be 104 in a couple of weeks! Here she is, after I read her `Sifter’ [by Naomi Shihab Nye]. She is awesome, and always up for anything new!”
Cheryl and Phyllis, we’ll be up in CT in a couple of weeks to do (among other fun things) a reading organized by Ginny Connors, publisher of Grayson Books. Maybe we’ll just swing by One MacDonough Place to greet you and celebrate a 104th birthday! In the meantime, continue enjoying the anthology and writing your own poems.
This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Twyla Hansen.
Short bio: I’m Nebraska’s State Poet (2013-2018). I co-direct the Poetry from the Plains: A Nebraska Perspective website. My latest poetry book is Rock • Tree • Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017). Two of my books have won Nebraska Book Awards, including Potato Soup, a Nebraska 150 Notable Book for the 2017 Sesquicentennial. My writing has appeared widely in periodicals, newspapers, anthologies, and many other publications.
Thoughts on mindfulness and poetry: I have been practicing yoga for five years with a small group of women, and it has made a positive difference in my life. In today’s troubling times, deep breathing and yoga pose stretches are part of my daily routine, calming mind, body, and spirit. Spending time outdoors and writing poems have a similar effect on me. Stepping on to a native tallgrass prairie connects me deeply with Earth, from which all bounty flows. Creative writing also takes me to a place that is timeless. I love to lose myself in the process of writing a poem, and am astonished when I again resurface in the real world. This doesn’t happen every time I sit down to write, of course, but when it does, it gives me hope and the world seems a little brighter.
Fun fact: I’ve been collecting rocks in the shape of Nebraska for years, and by now have well over 100 of all sizes (see photo).
Website and social media: