April is Poetry Appreciation Month and poets everywhere want others to know it isn’t just something you studied in high school. For some, it’s a part of their being, a way to express themselves. For Kay Whatley, poetry provides understanding the parts of life which confound her and provides a way of coping.
“It helps me deal with personal hardship and tragedy if life comes at me that way,” she said.
She said she’s been writing poetry all of her life.
“Luckily for humanity, those older verses no longer exist!” she said.
She wrote her first poem as a campaign speech in high school.
“I was running for State President of the Y Clubs of Georgia,” she said. “I wrote and memorized the poem and delivered it before an audience of about 1,100. It must have been okay because I won the election. To date, it is my only ‘prize-winning’ poem!”
She finds joy in telling poetic stories that bring happiness to others, especially children, she said.
“There is no thrill quite so sweet as to have their faces light up because of something I wrote,” she said. “Poetry is the outlet for the real me who hides inside most of the time.”
My ideas usually come from my life,” she said. Something she saw, or don’t understand or something that changes her can become the foundation of a poem.
“Sometimes, (the inspiration is) something I’ve read that I want to restate in a different format so I can comprehend it better,” she said.
Sometimes, though, they come unbidden in the night, she said.
“These spontaneous ones are nearly always complete except maybe a small thing that needs correction or clarification. They are also rare.”
Whatley said she was raised on Mother Goose rhymes.
“I know many people don’t count them as poetry, but my mother read them to me constantly and insisted that I memorize many of them,” she said. “I think that is largely responsible for the sense of meter and rhythm I feel when I’m writing.”
She said she still recite most of them and why she prefers simple, story-telling poetry over the more literary type and why she loves to write for children.
“In my teen years, I was fascinated by Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Lewis Stephenson.”
Both had a sense of rhythm that helps open her mind so she can understand.
“I also love the prose of older eras like Oswald Chamber, C.S. Lewis, and Louisa May Alcott,” she said.
For more poetry, check out poets.org.
Calhoun Area Writers (CAW)
This group of writers offers a supportive setting that meets monthly.
“The great programs every month helped me learn more of the craft of writing and the critique groups where we hone our skills have made my work much better and given me the courage to share it with other people,” she said.
She said many writers face similar struggles and the support offered by the group is important.
“It’s invaluable to being emotionally able to continue in the face of rejections,” she said, adding they have also helped her learning computer skills and programs.
“All my work would have been tucked in books and notebooks at home,” she said.
Currently, she is working on a children’s picture book written in lyrical rhyme in the style of Dr. Seuss. It’s called “Creation Jubilation.”
“It’s my attempt to retell the story of creation in a way children can understand and also enjoy,” she said. “Without CAW, I never would dhave had the courage to start the project or the help and knowledge I needed to finish it.”
April is also Anklyosing Spondilitis month. For one woman’s battle against the autoimmune disease, read here.