Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memoirs and Poetry on Realgoodwords

by Heidi Holtan

This week I talk with the author of "Memory of Trees - A Daughter's Story of a Family Farm"- Gayla Marty. It was a great conversation - and I'm afraid I jumped all over the place because there were so many things I wanted to talk with her about. Hers is a memoir - her life growing up on the farm. She's created this in a really unique way. First, she starts the book from her point of view as a young girl - so the language and storytelling changes as she gets older. Also, she's using the idea of her favorite trees on her family farm in Rush City, MN to tell her story. For example:

At the cemetery east of town, a young maple tree grows by the Marty family plot. When I go with Gramma Marty to take care of our plot, she tells me to water the tree too. It's bark is smooth gray and its leaves are yellow-green, like hands with three points, bigger than the pages of the book I use for pressing leaves. Its seeds are attached to a wing like a dragonfly's. There are millions of seeds every spring.
page 39 "Memory of Trees" published by University of MN Press

I also talk with Elise Paschen this week about "Poetry Speaks: Who I Am" - a new anthology of written and spoken word poetry for middle to high school age kids. It includes poetry from people like Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Joy Harjo, Julia Alvarez and many, many more. One of the poems included is "Mowing" by Midge Goldberg.

You know those chores you always have to do,
like mowing grass: I grumble, go outside—
a lawn this size will take an hour or two
at least—put on my Red Sox hat and ride
around designing circles, lines, a border.
I move from shade to sunshine, deftly steering,
looking purposeful and bringing order
so neat and sure—and sure of disappearing.
With all this sun, I know that what I’m doing
won’t last, won’t keep a week; I ride about
to find the pleasure in the not pursuing,
to learn beyond the shadow of a doubt
the patterns that I long to bring to pass
get mown and overgrown like summer grass.

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