Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Kelly's News Blog

My June Newsletter: On Farm Pond Poetry & Prose collection is published

  Farm Pond Writing Collective  Members pictured from L to R: Megan Walls, Karen Edwards, Mary Beth Hines, Kelly DuMar, Susan Kennedy, Elizabeth Sheehan, Karin Stanley, Claudia Duchene. (Missing are Peggy Gavin & Leanne Labelle.)  

Farm Pond Writing Collective Members pictured from L to R: Megan Walls, Karen Edwards, Mary Beth Hines, Kelly DuMar, Susan Kennedy, Elizabeth Sheehan, Karin Stanley, Claudia Duchene. (Missing are Peggy Gavin & Leanne Labelle.)  

In the fall of 2015, at the invitation of my friend, Liz Sheehan, I led a writing workshop in her studio space at her home overlooking Farm Pond in Sherborn. The workshop was for women who wanted to write creatively from their personal photos. It was meant to last six weeks. Everyone joined the group at a different level of writing experience. 

 Farm Pond, ©Karin Stanley 2918

Farm Pond, ©Karin Stanley 2918

Using my guide to writing creatively from personal photos, participants spontaneously crafted poetry and prose, much of which they also revised and polished over the course of the weeks. I wanted them to have the risky and satisfying experience of sharing their writing and stories with a wider circle. And so, Liz offered her living room and fireplace and we made delicious food, invited friends and family, lit the fire, and the members read, (some for the first time), their writing in a truly supportive atmosphere. Family and friends listened to their loved ones reading this illuminating writing, and it warmed and inspired and delighted them.

Such a strong connection has grown among members –both to their commitment to their own creative writing time, as well as to the shared support and friendship for each other, we have just completed our third year, and will continue this fall.

 Cover Art & Design by © Karin Stanley,  2018

Cover Art & Design by ©Karin Stanley, 2018

On June 11, we once again celebrated on Farm Pond, outside at Liz's, with food and family, friends and a fire, reading from our just published collection of poetry and prose from our workshop, On Farm Pond.

While introducing her poem on June 11, I was moved by an insight Liz shared about why this writing group experience has been so meaningful to her. She said our workshops were a reason and motivation to bring her cartons of old photos up from the basement. Our workshops have been a chance for her to revisit, with new friends, the powerful past travels she made at another stage of her life, to places in Cambodia and India and Africa, to reflect on who she was then, who she is now, and how the women from other cultures she met in these travels have influenced the woman, the leader, she is today.

Here's one of Liz's travel and discovery poems included in the anthology:

Basket

She was the tall one
with a long braid falling down her back
She was old enough
to fill baskets with fish and
squat at the riverbank.
Her basket was new,
made by her mother’s strong fingers.
This was the vessel that she would carry
across the map of her life.

The basket was rough and
the colors matched her boldness.
The woven pattern was as unique
as the light that shone from her dark eyes
flickering with youth’s fire.
On her first day, her catch was bountiful,
her smile radiant and she walked home
feeling all of her power.

Along another river, in another year,
she met him while resting from the calling to serve,
pushing her limits of exploration and endurance.
Together they travelled along the muddy edges
of the Tonle Sap in Cambodia and
made mad love in the dunes
on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
Her basket was full of joy, overflowing with stories,
and landmines and talisman collected to protect her
along her journey.

Then her basket held babies
carried to her on the invisible thread of life.
Her love overflowed into the basket
as she watched tiny movements
change into baby faces that sang the sweet songs
of her beloved.
She was surrounded by the other baskets,
a sanctuary of new lives, all huddling close to their mothers,
their milk overflowing.

Lining her basket was an exquisite blanket woven
from the golden threads of hope and promise,
of tears and disappointments.

Now older and wiser the threads were strong enough
to hold the invisible weight of parenting.

Another layer, another year,
her basket fills with bold ideas and
audacious dreams to change the ways things are.
Now she needs to fill the basket with silver coins,
layer upon layer, asking and thanking,
and thanking and asking for more.
The new patterns woven into her basket
sometimes look extraordinary,
sometimes they look plain and tired.

She asks me how to repair the holes.
How to fix the tears and
stop the pain that cuts too deep.
Her voice is louder asking me to help her
find the dream that slipped out of the tiny holes.
Has the time come to take the paddle out of the water
that rushes by and just float?
Did the rushing push her past
seeing the bounty and
the beauty inside her own basket—
unique and colorful and full of
every thing she ever needed?
— © Elizabeth Sheehan, On Farm Pond: Poetry & Prose, 2018

I want to share with you the short, 2-minute video my daughter Franci surprised us with after our June 11, 2018 On Farm Pond story fire readings. You'll note the whimsical irony of our background music for the video: I love to be snowed in with you, a recording of an original poem, written and set to music by FPC member Karen Edwards, and recorded by her musician friends Satigata and Fendrick & Peck

 On Farm Pond Artwork © Karin Stanley  2018

On Farm Pond Artwork ©Karin Stanley 2018

On Farm Pond includes at least one poem or prose piece by all of our Farm Pond Collective - as well as two writing prompts that I've used in our workshops. If you would like to purchase a copy of On Farm Pond, you can do so on Amazon.com here. All royalties generated will be donated to Care2Communities, a non-profit co-founded by Liz Sheehan to provide community-based healthcare for low-income people and their families in Haiti.

I hope you'll enjoy all the unique voices of the members expressed in this collection from writing on Farm Pond. We're all grateful to member Karin Stanley for her original artwork and cover design.

Want to join me in one of my upcoming workshops, in person or online? Have a look here! And subscribe to my monthly newsletter here to stay in touch.

I look forward to writing with you soon!