Introducing Guest Author and Poet: Linda Marie Steele
The first poem I read of Linda Marie Steel’s was ‘baby birds’, that she submitted for an anthology I was publishing – In Celebration of Mothers. Her poem spoke of the birds of the marsh and the similarities they had with motherhood.
In baby birds, she writes:
Today I watch over the birds of the marsh as if
They’re my own.
Give them wings,
so they can fly,
What they won’t say
is how much
you won’t want to let them go.
I was hooked and I’ve loved her poetry ever since.
A year later I was accepting submission for another anthology, In Celebration of Sisters. Linda submitted an essay speaking about the life of three sisters, Linda – Luci – Laurie, with Linda being the middle sister. With that I learned that Linda is a woman that writes in more than one genre.
Today I’m happy to introduce Linda Marie Steele as a guest. She shares with us how walking the marsh helped her journey through a difficult transition in her life and how writing and poetry were a balm to her in this difficult time.
Thank you for joining us today, Linda!
Linda’s Words about Her Beloved Marsh
My new poetry collection, “Tending the Marsh” emerged after a year of daily walking on the marsh. Each morning after my daughter got on the school bus, I’d head to the Great Sippewissett Marsh to walk. By following a short-wooded path through the back of my house I’d reach the marsh. The marsh is a stunning place of expansive natural beauty that shifts and changes from moment to moment. It was easy to feel inspired and drawn into the environment. As a writer, it felt fitting to then return to my writing desk to jot down impressions. My collection offers a close observation of the year after I went through a major life transition-the divorce from a man I dearly loved. We met when I was only 20-our relationship spanned close to 25 years. The book is primarily about my journey through navigating that difficult transition and reflected my need to tend to something.
I wrote every day for about a year. The collection first started in journal form with pen and paper, a simple date at the top and things like how I was feeling that day and the wildlife or weather I noticed. I knew I wanted to tell my story but I wanted to tell it in a way that felt comfortable for me, honest and in a way that could potentially bring comfort to someone else going through a similar life experience one day.
Somewhere along the way, poetry felt like a good fit for my story. It allowed me to make vivid observations about my environment and my experience but I didn’t have to feel bogged down by all the specifics or timeline. Poetry allowed me a way to create a space for my feelings and a way for me to grow and heal.
I brought my very rough first draft of the collection in poetry form to Marge Piercy’s poetry intensive workshop during the summer of 2018 for feedback. I also attend a wonderfully supportive writing group called Chatham writers on Monday mornings and even though I didn’t bring everything I wrote to that group about my daily walks throughout that first year I did benefit greatly from the supportive writing community.
After I felt I was at a place of completion with the manuscript I gave it to five readers for feedback-four of the readers were from my writing group and the fifth was my middle daughter Bella. The help and support I received were invaluable. With each of the comments, I could see where I wanted to insert a haiku, for example, to continue the narrative thread I imagined for the book overall. I found ways to properly order the poems so that there was a sense of continuity.
I wanted my collection to tell a story of healing and transformation from the point of initial intention to loss to the complex ebb and flow of grief to eventual hope and healing. All of these transitions are mirrored in the natural beauty observed in the marsh.
Throughout life, we all go through transitions of one kind or another. We are born, go to school, make friends, move out of our parent’s house, get a job, fall in love then start a family of our own. Not necessarily in that particular order and sometimes we may move through one kind of a transition and find ourselves going through the same type of transition again.
One thing we can all take comfort in when one life phase ends is that eventually, something new will be reborn. Navigating a new normal can feel difficult and prickly and at times really hard but at the end of the day I believe we all hope for balance and desire peace of mind and heart.
“Tending the Marsh” includes poems like “Tending a Tender Heart,” “When Grief Visits,” “Moonbeams,” “New Beginnings,” “Blessed” and Autumn on the Marsh.” Recently a friend wrote to me and said “Tending the Marsh is beautiful and calming. I have the sense of walking beside you and seeing all the secrets of the marsh through your eyes.”
I’d love to personally invite you to take a look at my new book available now on Amazon and feel free to reach out to share your experience or story. I can be reached through my website at www.lindamariasteele.com.