Archive for the ‘grandmothers’ Tag

Haruah: Breath of Heaven   Leave a comment

Northern lights on the road

Image by Tom Olliver via Flickr

To read this poem, click here

2007, when “On the Shores of Gitcheegumee” was published in Haruah: Breath of Heaven, seems like a lifetime ago. Even more distant is the even that inspired this inspirational piece about grieving, loss, and hope.

My grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but the trip to Montana my family took is fresh in my mind to this day. Growing up we made the trek to Montana by van many times, but this particular trip was fraught with roadblocks along the way. The minivan broke down in Michigan, the part needed had to be ordered, the only campground nearby with a spot for us was run by a crazy old man who hated kids.  It was like something out of a movie, but the best, and worst, was yet to come.

At weeks end, we sped across the prairies, not stopping at night, my parents taking turns sleeping. During one of the brief stops along side the road so Mom could wake up and take Dad’s place, we were blessed to see the Northern Lights, my sister and I for the first time. The next day we learned that my grandmother had passed around the time we witnessed Aurora Borealis.

My family, my life, have always been a main source of inspiration for me, and this poem is representative of some of my earliest work, drawing on one of the bigger moments. Over time, of course, I have to delve further, draw from memory buried over time, more subtle. It’s nice to look back and remember a simpler, bittersweet time.

How deep into your own memory do you go for inspiration? Have you simply skimmed the surface in your writing, or have the layers slowly been peeled away? Do some free writing, quickly writing down scraps of memory, phrases, words, see what might be hiding, waiting to come into the light.

Advertisements

The Legendary, 2009   Leave a comment

Grandma's underwear

Image by raldski gimo via Flickr

http://www.downdirtyword.com/authors/helenpeterson.html#tp

The Legendary loves me, and I love the Legendary.  In 2009, they published three flash by me, “The Cheating Kind”, “Goin’ Commando”, and “Missy Lee’s Enlightenment”.

The Cheating Kind, well. It’s four sentences, mostly of dialogue, but I think, I hope, it packs a punch when you read it, similar to the shock to the system the protagonist gets when she realizes she is, indeed, married to the cheating kind.

Goin Commando is a Baby Girl story, but instead of the younger, sassy, middle aged Baby Girl, we get to meet the Grandma Baby Girl. It was fun, trying to imagine this character I had created initially in her twenties, then wrote about again in her forties, turn sixty and become Maw-Maw. The story I adapted from something my sister did at the age of five, not me. Honest. I swear.

And Missy Lee owes her name to a good friend of mine with the last name of Lee. Sassy, Southern, and comfortable in her skin. Her actions, however, stem from autobiographical frustration I had with a previous relationship. The beauty of being a writer is, you can write out the things in your life you don’t understand until they begin to make sense.  You can harness your anger and create with it, birthing characters that may reach out to others in your position, give them hope and allow them to see the beauty in themselves.

Wilderness House Literary Review   Leave a comment

http://www.whlreview.com/no-5.2/poetry/HelenPeterson.pdf

Wilderness House, which has published me twice now, is the feature today. These two poems, “Mother Cynic” and “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”  both explore family in unique ways. Yesterday’s poem, “To the Mother of all Mothers”, took on a humorous view of motherhood, “Mother Cynic” as its name implies takes a darker view. Perfect for today, as my oldest got on the bus this morning for a new school, and did NOT want me to come to the bus stop with him. (He’s in 7th grade now, so I get it, but still…) fortunately, next week, my second will start preschool, and will definitely want me there so it covers the hole left by the tween. And it’s the up and down, the balancing act that is motherhood, that “Mother Cynic” is framed around.

The second poem, “Making Aunt Gracie’s Potato Salad”, is a poem written as a recipe, mapping the life of “Aunt Gracie”. The name came not from an aunt, but from my great-grandmother, Granny Gracie, who made biscuits, not potato salad. I just happened to be making potato salad that day, so it was a mix of the true and the not quite true. Emily Dickinson once said “tell the tale, but tell it slant.”, and that’s just what I did.

Food and family make great inspirations. Today, write about the food that means family to you, and share a slice here.