Friends, this week has been nothing short of crazy-busy. But in the midst of my busyness with deadlines and grading and whatnot, I received some rather astonishing news...I've been nominated, by Illuminations Magazine, for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. I'm as honored and thrilled as you might imagine.
During Thanksgiving last week, my sister and I ventured into our grandmother's attic for the first time in years. When we were younger (and my grandmother was more strict) we always begged to go in the attic, or for someone to, so we could discover the oldies-but-goodies inside. So, when my grandmother okayed it after we all cleared this year's holiday dishes, Marie and I were as thrilled as 12-year-olds.
I crawled around on my knees in that dusty attic for what seemed like an eternity, determined to find something more worthwhile than old curtains. I finally did--a boxful of old letters, photos and mementos. I handed it down the ladder to my mother, who was anxiously awaiting my descent, and everyone crowded around the kitchen table, eager to sift through family history.
It's funny...each of us found something particularly meaningful. For me, it was a letter that my great-uncle, Louis James Essey, wrote in the 1940's to a literary journal. Uncle Lou, who was one of my grandmother's older brothers, has always been one of my heroes. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, he worked as a journalist for the Charlotte Observer, never got married, wrote incessantly and didn't own a television. When I found the letter, yellowed with years and crumbly at the edges, I decided I would keep it. After all, Uncle Lou and I are both writers, and, more specifically, both poets. I brought the letter home to Charleston and it's nestled on my bookshelf.
I'm not certain whether Uncle Lou's poetry was ever published. I know he published countless essays, articles and reviews throughout his life as a writer, but his career as a poet is mysterious to me.
Still, it seems an interesting coincidence that I've now been nominated for the Pushcart. I can't help but wonder if Uncle Lou brought me good luck? Or, for that matter, if luck came from any of the other poets I've been fortunate to know throughout these years? Come to think of it, the nominated poem was inspired by Anna, my dear friend who passed last summer. Every time I write or read poetry, I think of all the poets I've met. Some of them are my personal friends, some have signed my collections...some are just out there, writing.
They make good company.