Book Name and Description:
The Heart is a Nursery for Hope – a chapbook of poetry
The overarching theme of Elaine Reardon’s poetry chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery for Hope, is life’s transmutations, life in all its quirkiness, from small moments in the day to life- changing events. Whatever the heart holds can nourish and transform.
By Elaine Reardon
I had need of the old jars this morning
went to the cellar to retrieve them
from the bottom shelf
the empty jars still had bits
of your faded handwriting
Twenty two years ago you sat with me
writing lavender, thyme, anise hyssop
on stickers with neat calligraphy
a row of garden for the herb shelf
It was difficult to loosen faded labels
to fill the jars with something new
they now sparkle in the dish drainer
aside from rust on the hinges
Like what changes the heart
what charges iron to rust
can’t be removed easily
What gave you the idea for The Heart is a Nursery for Hope?
At the center of things, for me as well as for so many other folks, is hope. We have difficult situations in our lives, and we need to cope, to get through the difficulties. Kind of like after a big snowfall, one shovel-full at a time – soon you can get down the stairs and out the door.
And somewhere in that process, you may notice how beautiful the snow is, how the flakes stick, and how the moon-shine lights the landscape. I’m a practical optimist! Also, I’ve noticed that perspective can change how we feel about things. Many people have told me they feel spiritually inspired by the poetry. That both pleases and inspired me, because that feedback has come from folks of many differing religions.
What got you into writing in this genre?
My Dad is from the old country (Ireland). I grew up in the oral tradition of story and song… Every day was a wonderful story. Even his WW2 stories about getting ready for D-Day on the moors of England, were fashioned for a child’s hearing. I remember one story of how he saved a chocolate bar from his rations, but the mice got to it before he did. He could bring a sense of wonder to the mundane. And I don’t think I’ve ever lost that sense of wonder. If I could carry a tune, I might be singing!
How long have you been writing? I began when I was four, but I couldn’t actually write, yet. I then took it up again in the second grade. Again, my teacher dashed my hopes, as she wanted me to do math instead.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
I’ve been published in Three Drops from a Cauldron Anthology, and in their journal. They have an interesting website to explore. Also, I’ve been “Poet of the Week” on PoetrySuperHighway.com, and featured on masspoetry.org, Halcyon Days Journal, and Poppy Review. I’ve directed the work for and edited a Vernal Pool Poster, published by Vernal Pool Association. As an educator, I’ve been published by University of Massachusetts Press, as part of a book about global education. Finally, I have a picture-book that I’ve recently submitted to several places, and this is another first, for me. I’ve had support from my local Society of Picture Book Writers and Illustrators as I’ve worked and revised.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?
My family started off my life with song, story, and nursery rhymes, and these have been a large influence. My mom and her sisters loved to croon along with old jazz tunes and big band favorites. My critique group meets monthly, and that kind of support is wonderful, so I’m always learning to refine. My writing day is a bit like riding on a see-saw! I usually begin trying to get email submissions and glancing over journals and online communications early in the day. But then, other days I dash off to yoga first. At some point, I need to go outdoors and be in nature. To listen, walk, or work. My days are not as organized as I’d like.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?
Poetry books: Night Walker by by Thurston. Her poetry is just gorgeous. Very simple, very deep. Every line is in place, both technically and emotionally. Billy Collins, for his searing commentary, observations, and humor. I’m enjoying Horoscopes for the Dead right now. Also, A Moment in the Field, by Margaret Lloyd. Books are sacred things to me, and reading is a sacrament. In writing this, I realize I have the first book my grandmother gave me, of fairy tales, before I was old enough to read it, and the second and third books given to me, when I turned eight years old. One is poetry, and one is about Paul Revere. It’s interesting that history and poetry have journeyed through my years with me.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I take chances, and listen to wise insight from my poetry elders. I think it’s a responsibility to birth what you can into the world. You do what you can to better the world. I’m new at painting, and have been in some local shows. I dash around taking photos when I write my blog, to pair pictures with words. Twelve years ago, I wasn’t doing any of this! I also became a solar coach for my town, and learned a lot about solar /alternative energy. Every day brings new possibilities.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
For me, a laptop. I’m a messy writer – I need a dictionary and quiet. Also, books to read, writer friends, and a sangha to meet with.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
The idea that we are always evolve, it’s through all the experiences of writing that we see how we can refine our work. Writing is like learning a language, or math, or riding a bike. You have to do it for yourself.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
elainereardon.wordpress.com is my blog, I have a Facebook page for the book, and an author page on Goodreads. Marketing is tricky when you are published by small presses. I’ve done readings at libraries, bookstores, poetry venues, and literary festivals like the Brattleboro Literary Festival, and the Orange Garlic and Arts Festival.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Ha! Perhaps my unpublished children’s story, The Star Keepers. Two of my poems were finalists in contests, Memories of Vietnam, and Thanksgiving.
What are you doing next?
My neighbor recently found some primary documents, letters from the man who lived where I live, on this land, before we were a country, in the late 1700s. Reading them makes history come alive for me, from a serious hailstorm, to the Boston Tea Party. I’ve downloaded some historical documents and want to begin to research and write about James Ball, and that time-frame in my town. I can almost feel him here, and can almost see him looking into the stream.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write, read, don’t self-judge – not everything will be wonderful. Put writing away, and look at it in a couple weeks. You’ll see what to tweak. Find a sangha of writers be connect with.
Elaine is a poet, herbalist, educator, and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Her chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, won first honors from Flutter Press. Most recently, Elaine’s poetry has been published by Three Drops from a Cauldron Journal, MA Poet of the Moment, Nature Writing, and poetrysuperhighway.com. Elaine lives tucked into the forest in Central Massachusetts and maintains a blog at elainereardon.wordpress.com.
The Heart is a Nursery for Hope – Amazon
The Heart is a Nursery for Hope – Flutterpress
Poetry Host: Mass Poetry Poem of the Moment
Poetry Host: Nature Writing