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Nancy Edwards’ Mother Remembered

 Nancy Edwards’ Beloved Mother

story by Portia Choi 

       

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards’ mother is remembered today on Mother’s Day.

She often spoke of her mother’s Southern background, her gentility and graciousness.  It was during our lunches while planning poetry events that Nancy spoke of her mother.

Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., was a Professor of English at B.C. from 1968-2009.  She was a well-known poet in Kern County.  She was a vital and integral organizer of poetry events.

I knew that Nancy was fond of music.  She had collaborated with Howard Quilling, the former Professor of Music at Bakersfield College (B.C.)  She provided the poetry which inspired him to compose his music.

At the memorial celebration for Nancy, John Gerhold sang the compositions of Quilling and Edwards.  Gerhold is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at B.C.  and the chairperson of Fenlinson Endowment Committee.  Gerhold said, “Nancy’s mother was a music teacher.  Nancy made a scholarship honoring her mother.  Nancy was a generous person, and helped students and future generataions.  Many of the students went on to be music teachers.”  The scholarship is named Frances Edwards Music Scholarship.

Nancy also collaborated with Rosa Garza, a Professor of Social Studies at B.C.  They published a chapbook, Beloved Mother, Querida Madre.   In the book Nancy wrote the poem “Beloved Mother” and Rosa translated the poem into Spanish.  At the memorial service, Rosa recited the Spanish translation.  Sheena Bhogal, a professor of English at B.C. recited the poem in English.

 

Beloved Mother

By Nancy Edwards

 

In the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow

In these layers of tender skin

I am born once more

When you hold me,

Beloved Mother

 

When you hold me

I want to return

To the perfume of

Your vanity table

And douse myself

In Mother’s love powder

Cake flour fine

Only mother has it

 

I am in the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow Mother,

You are my cradle,

My beloved mother,

I live in the fragrance

Of your loose powder

And flower perfume

 

You are always

The place inside

You hold me forever

In the stream of my birth

When I am in your arms

You are my beloved Mother.

 

 

Querida Madre (Beloved Mother)

Translated by Rosa Garza

 

En la tela de tu codo

En esas capas de tierna piel

He nacido otra vez

Cuando me acaricias otra vez

Querida Madre

 

Cuando me acaricias

Quiero volver

Al perfume de

Tu tocador

Y ponerme polvo

Polvo de amor materno

Harina fina

Que solo la madre tiene

 

Estoy en la tela de tu codo

Tu eres mi cuna

Mi querida madre

Vivo en el polvo

Y perfume de flor

 

Siempre eres

El Lugar adentro

Donde me abrazas para siempre

En la corriente de mi nacer

Cuando estoy en tus brazos

Tue eres mi querida madre

 

Source:  Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE, 1992

EVERYTHING BARREN WILL BE BLESSED by Don Thompson

EVERYTHING BARREN WILL BE BLESSED by Don Thompson, Kern County Poet Laureate

Story by Portia Choi

Poets and friends gathered to celebrate National Poetry Month at Dagny’s Coffee on April 1, 2017.  They celebrated by discussing poems in a book by Don Thompson, the first Poet Laureate of Kern County.  The book is Everything Barren Will be Blessed.

Annis Cassells, Tim Chang, Portia Choi and Mona Sidhu each selected a poem from the book.  Then the poems were read aloud to the whole group, once by each individual, for a total of four times per poem.

With each re-reading, there was new understanding, feeling or image perceived from the poem.  There seemed to be continuing communication between the poet and the reader with each reading.

One of the poems discussed was “Tumbleweed.”  There was greater understanding of the poem as each person read the poem.  There was appreciation of the unique way that Thompson perceived his surroundings.  The last two lines of the poem is, “as if pulling the wind behind them/ caught on thousands of tiny hooks.”  One usually thinks that it’s the wind that blows a tumbleweed around.  Yet the poem states that it’s the wind being pulled by the tumbleweed.   And that the wind does not blow through, but is “caught” among the “tiny hooks.”

Another poem, also shown below, was “Abandoned Labor Camp.”

Thompson once said that he gets his inspiration from the “sound of silence, the night sounds, the silence behind the birds.”  He would pull off the road, and he stopped to listen.  “The animals are listening too,” he said.

“Poetry is about language. . . the language of interacting with the world,” said Thompson.

 

 

TUMBLEWEED

By Don Thompson

 

A lost tribe of tumbleweeds

crosses the road

a half mile or so ahead of me,

bounding along

while little ones hustle to keep up.

 

They’re uprooted, of course,

subject to the wind’s whims,

and could end anywhere—

maybe against a fence

to be gathered and burned by farm hands.

 

I know that . . .

But they seem so cheerful,

confidant and in control,

as if pulling the wind behind them

caught on thousands of tiny hooks.

 

 

ABANDONED LABOR CAMP

By Don Thompson

 

The rusted out and weathered sign

has nothing left to say—

like wooden grave markers

that used to have someone’s name on them.

 

You can tell that the two rows

of well-built bungalows

were tough for campesinos to get into.

There must have been a long waiting list.

 

But now, no glass intact,

and almost every door rkicked down,

ripped from the hinges that died hard,

the roofs slump, some already collaped.

 

And the few shade trees

that haven’t given up the ghost,

unpruned, unappreciated,

have gone crazy with loneliness.

 

 

 

 

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