Of Idols, Hero(ine)s, and Role Models


DonJinTX / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

“They” always say the right teacher shows up when you’re ready for them (or something like that). Just as I embarked upon my daily Haiku practice for National Poetry Month, two “teachers” showed up. The first: Nicole Cooley, who is an actual former teacher of mine and major inspiration/role model. She’s the first person who got me writing seriously, and thinking about writing seriously. So I was pleased to come across a well-deserved mention she received from Carey Salerno of Alice James Books, in the New York Times last week for her wonderful “Afflicted Girls”. You really should check it out if you’re looking for some poetic sustenance. It’s a haunting volume centered around the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. For better or worse, I’ve always been a teacher-pleaser. And Professor Cooley will always be one of the main people I hope to impress/emulate with my writing—at least theoretically, since I don’t expect her to actually read or “grade” my work anymore. But I do think many of us who write have people in mind who we are writing for and trying to impress with our verbal efforts, even if only in our minds.

The second “teacher” came in the form of a volume of poetry I discovered at my local library (shout out to Washington County Cooperative Library Services on this one). I saw Mary Szybist’s “Incarnadine” in a poetry display this weekend and felt an instant affinity. The Virgin Mary, Annunciation, and the intersection between the everyday and the divine are touchstone themes that often inform what I write, and here those were in Professor Szybist’s amazing and masterful poems. I am in love with “Incarnadine” and, since she’s local, I’m hoping to be lucky enough to go to a reading or somesuch by Prof. Szybist someday.

You never know where you’re going to find a teacher who speaks to you–it might be on Facebook (where I happened to see that NY Times article), it might be on the library shelves…keep your eyes open!