One Wednesday afternoon in fall 2021, I walked into the Creative Pinellas art gallery, having read about it in the Sunday Tampa Bay Times. The work I saw in the bright natural light of those airy, open rooms gave me the push to see and learn more. I went back to the gallery often and brought others with me. This year I became one of the 2024 grantees, (top far right) honored and encouraged by the support of the agency and the proximity of these new colleagues. My goal: to experiment further with poetry and creative nonfiction.
I’ve been a writer “under the radar “for many years while fully active in education. Now retired, I can use the elements of my professional life to play more freely– with words, formats, themes too complicated to entertain fully in the past. To write with time to spare is the gift of life’s current moment.
I have a foundation to build on. My second poetry collection, Tangled, was recently published by Moon Pie Press of Maine. That slim volume emerged from a sweep of my computer files, some poems from an earlier chapbook, Out of the Woods, and others waiting to be acknowledged further and calling for revision. New poems now sit on my desk, also asking for attention. Through this grant I will have the opportunity to work with Gloria Munoz, St. Petersburg’s current poet laureate. I’ve read Gloria’s Danzirly/Dawn’s Early, a collection of poems that won the 2021 Gold Medal Florida Book Award. I look forward to our future conversations, as I did over the years with poets Peter Meinke, Helen Wallace, Kate Sweeny, and other local writers.
The other side of my past writing life included professional writing, articles about education and teaching. I’ve moved on to creative nonfiction, essays and the memoir. I’ve studied with Ann Hood at the Writers in Paradise conference, had important conversations with novelist Sterling Watson, and drawn on the extensive knowledge of versification with Tony Connor, mentor and friend at Wesleyan University, CT. Each individual has brought their expertise and depth of experience to my daily work. With this web of connections, each day I put pencil to paper or fingers to my keyboard, I am well supported. The Emerging Artist Grant opens yet another path I am ready to follow.