Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On not giving up (Pt. 5)

[[Very touched by this story recently about the poet Virginia Hamilton Adair, who was born in New York City in 1913. Must confess I haven’t read her poems, but her book Ants on the Melon is on my Amazon wishlist. Nice interview with her on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour here]]

Her father was an insurance salesman and an amateur poet. She grew up loving poetry, and she published many poems in magazines as a young woman. But after she got married, she stopped trying to publish. She said, “Publishing takes a sort of canniness that I didn't really think went with poetry. I was afraid of writing to please somebody else instead of myself.”

So she went on writing poems, without publishing them, for almost 50 years. It wasn't until after her children were grown, her husband had died, and she had lost her eyesight that she published a book of her work. They went through thousands of the poems she had written to find 87 for her book Ants on the Melon, which came out in 1996. She was 83 years old. She went on to publish two more books: Beliefs and Blasphemies (1998) and Living on Fire (2000).

When asked where she got her inspiration, she said, “A cup of coffee. Always black, always strong, and always just one. It takes the cork out of the bottle.”