Monday, May 19, 2014

A wonderful evening

I belong to an organization of professional writers, the Colorado Authors' League, that recognizes the work of its members for the previous year. Books, articles, poetry of all kinds that have been published the are considered for an award in one of ten categories.

My chapbook, We Leave the Safety of the Sea, was considered in the poetry category. And my gosh, it was awarded the poetry prize. Here's the cover. That young stud in the picture is me 45 years ago. Age hasn't helped any.

The poems in the chapbook reflect some of my experiences in combat in Vietnam and the emotional residue of that time over the past 45 years. The earliest poem in the book I wrote in 1996 and the last one in 2012, so there's a real time spread.

The evening was really special as my original mentor and woman who encouraged me to write more poetry as I was starting out some 20 years ago, Lois Hayna, was always recognized that evening with a lifetime achievement award. Lois has published seven books of poetry the last one a year ago when she turned 100. She's now 101.

Lois started writing poetry when she was in her 60s, so having seven books to her credit is amazing. She started three different poetry critique groups that are still going strong. She told me that she gets up about 4:30 each morning, turns on the coffee, then the computer, then pours a cup of coffee and writes on the computer for the next several hours. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

I received a very handsome award from CAL, which I'll treasure, especially because I got it the same night Lois got her life-time achievement award. Here's a picture of the award.

And this picture shows that it is in the shape of a book, which is pretty cool.

Here's the final poem in the book, one I wrote after a visit to Washington, DC, after we dropped our daughter, Barbara, off at college in Pennsylvania.

Washington, D.C., May 1995

Careless gusts chase clouds and tear
too soon the cherry blossoms
from their boughs.
Petals, whirled in the maelstrom,
are spilled free to sink and form
a pale pink pool
along the black wall.

The granite, scarred with names,
mirrors the pink in its ebony shine,
a reminder of blossoming lives—
vulnerable, fragile, young —
blown by the careless maelstrom
of their spring.