Sylvia Nickels lives in Sullivan County, Tenn. She is a member of several literary groups, including the Lost State Writers, and she is a board member of the Appalachian Authors Guild and Associates. She says, "In my case, it's literary art that changed my life. While I love visiting fine art galleries and seeing the pictures and other objects that talented painters, fabric artists, and others have created, words are my brushes and paper/computer screen my canvas. I began seriously writing and submitting about 15 years ago. Since then I've had some stories and non-fiction accepted and become involved with regional writing groups. Writing is a solitary occupation so I need the camaraderie and support of fellow travelers. They help to validate my identification as a writer and hopefully I do the same for them."
Writing: The New Love in My Life
When Linda Hudson Hoagland's husband died, her life changed abruptly. The novelist from Tazewell, Va., says, "I no longer had to schedule every waking hour based on how my beloved Sonny was feeling that day....As a writer, I need time alone to get my thoughts together so I can put them in the computer and eventually on the printed page. Now, I have all the time in the world to do just that but I don't want to do it....I need more clutter, more appointments, more reasons to get out of bed each and every morning, but that doesn't mean I have to have a new man in my life."
It's been almost a year. Hoagland says, "I have developed a new love in my life, and that's the need to sell my books and become recognized for the writer that I am and the better one that I will be in the future....I'm scheduling library appearances, craft shows, fairs, festivals, and book signing events to fill up the lonely hours of each weekend."
Poetry: A Lament
Editor's Note: The following poem by renowned author Barbara Kingsolver is reprinted by permission from Another America (Seal Press, 1992). Kingsolver currently makes her home in Meadowview, Va.
commemorating the removal of poetry as a requirement in Arizona's schools, August 1997
The Governor interdicted: poetry is evicted
from our curricula,
for metaphor and rhyme take time
from science. Our children's self-reliance rests
upon the things we count on. The laws
of engineering. Poeteering squanders time, and time
is money. He said: let the chips fall where they may.
The Governor's voice fell down through quicksilver
microchip song hummed along and the law
was delivered to its hearing. The students
of engineering bent to their numbers in silent
classrooms, where the fans overhead
whispered "I am I am" in iambic pentameter.
Unruly and fractious numbers were discarded at the bell.
In the crumpled, cast-off equations,
small black figures shaped like tadpoles
formed a nation, unobserved, in the wastepaper basket.
Outside, a storm is about to crack the sky.
Lightning will score dry riverbeds, peeling back the mud
like a plow, bellowing, taking out bridges,
The children too young to have heard
of poetry's demise turn their eyes
to the windows, to see what they can count on.
They will rise and dance to the iamb of the fans,
whispering illicit rhymes,
watching the sky for a sign
while the rain beats time.