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Uncovering the beauty of words

Created date

December 31st, 2008

Claudia Emerson, the current Poet Laureate of Virginia, recently addressed a crowd of people at Greenspring as part of the Poetry for Fun group s monthly meeting. In addition to detailing her own unique writing process, Emerson provided insider tips to beginning poets. Notable guests Barely a year old, Greenspring s Poetry for Fun group meets the fourth Thursday of every month and is open to any community member interested in writing, listening, and learning about poetry. "Our first year has been very successful," says the group s chair, Thelma Ledger. "In addition to hearing poetry written by our residents, we have heard outstanding talks by Patricia Gray, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, and Robert Stone, professor of Spanish at the U. S. Naval Academy. When I learned that Claudia Emerson was recently appointed as the new Poet Laureate of Virginia, I looked up her bio on the Internet and called her at the University of Mary Washington at Fredericksburg. I told her about our group, and she agreed to come." Nominated by the Poetry Society of Virginia and appointed Poet Laureate by Governor Tim Kaine for a term of two years, Emerson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2006. The award was granted for her collection of poetry entitled, Late Wife, exploring, in her words, "loss weighed, survived, and understood." "Everyone has said goodbye along the way," she says. "And I hope people will relate to my poetry on that level." In addition to serving as Virginia s Poet Laureate, Emerson is the Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at the University of Mary Washington at Fredericksburg. ' She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Library of Congress. Warm welcome During Emerson s visit to Greenspring, almost 100 people filled the Accotink Room to hear her speak. "I looked forward to hearing Claudia Emerson read and, after hearing her, felt it had been a privilege," says Poetry for Fun member Mary Jane Swaney. "She handles language beautifully." "She was excellent," agrees Ledger. "She helped show us the importance emotions and personal experience have in our writing." Poetic insights Emerson s visit to Greenspring illustrates the many unique ways that the Poetry for Fun group tackles this creative art. "I attend the group because I have, and have always had, an interest in poetry," says Swaney. "Poetry can provide a reader with insights into the human condition. Writing it is a challenge." "These first-ever poetry gatherings at Greenspring open another creative door for the rich literary tradition here," says Ledger. ' "Future plans include trips in the area to hear readings and reviews and publication of members poems."

Poetry in action Poetry for Fun member Mary Jane Swaney wrote the following poem as a tribute to a neighbor who, having difficulty with vision herself, helps others with the same problem. On Hannah She will let you know if she believes it. That way truth is served. Furthermore She is a woman Who can deal with darkness. She chooses to guide those in need, Show them worlds that they can grasp, In which they fit, Moving softly. See her in our midst, Endowed with grace.