Featured Poem: A New Beginning

Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, California

 

On our way to shop at the sutlers’ tents,

we pass through the artillery camp,

horses lined up on our left,

each one almost identical to the next,

dark brown glossy coats,

long black manes and tails.

Not so long ago,

these Standardbred horses

trotted and paced in harness races,

pulled carts in front of grandstands, noisy crowds,

until their stride and winnings slowed,

their futures expendable.

 

Today,

they pull limbers, caissons, cannons

in teams of four and six

at this historical reenactment;

like synchronized dancers

they move as one,

joined in harnesses that clang and rattle

as they respond to reins and commands,

rush supply wagons, Civil War ambulances,

then stand calmly when artillery concussions

shake the ground.

 

 

Some wait their turn

as we walk by,

watch with alert brown eyes

focused on the wagon and four-horse team

circling the field without them;

others stand with knees locked,

sleeping in the sun,

and now, they dream

of brave gallops into battle chaos,

smoke that fills the field,

shouts of men in blue uniforms

who have rescued them,

provided a second chance,

a new beginning

in the Union “Army.”

 

 

Artwork Wanted for the 50th Biennial Art Show

Calling all artists! We need artwork for our 50th National Biennial Art Show.
We will have a wonderful gallery space in our Pen Arts Gallery for this exhibit. It’s all coming together and I’m very excited about it. We need to fill that space with artwork. 
The submission period started on Oct. 1 and to date, only two members have entered work for the Biennial Show.
Check the art competitions page for the submission requirements. If you are having problems resizing or sending attachments with your email, ask someone you know to help you, or let me know and I will guide you through it. Once you know how to do it, it will be easier the next time. 
—National Art Chair Mary Lou Griffin

Letters Competition Deadline Extended to December 20 — Entries Wanted!

Letters Competition Deadline Extended to December 20 — Entries Wanted!

NLAPW Letters members: As our 2020 Biennial deadline approaches for letters entries, we notice an imbalance in a few categories. If you want a higher percentage opportunity to win, you might consider entering one of the following categories in which we do not have many entries: Category C: writing on wildlife or sports; Category E: sonnet; Category I: sestina; Category L: memoir excerpt; Category P: journalism. Consider sending something out today and good luck. 

—Nancy Dafoe, NLAPW Letters Chair

P.S. See instructions in the fall edition of the Pen Woman, or follow the links to your entry category here for instructions.

Featured Art: Rebirth

"Rebirth" painting

“Rebirth,” watercolor 19 (by 24) by Janine Wilson 
Yucca Branch, New Mexico

janinewilsonart.blogspot.com

 

Janine Wilson wants the world to know that the Yucca Pen Women branch in New Mexico is alive, well and growing.

Wilson started painting after retirement in 2007. After painting realistic watercolors for years, she is exploring abstract watercolor. 

“Dancing with the paint is very freeing. You follow what it wants to do,” she says. 

She painted “Rebirth” after the death of her painting mentor. The woman appeared, reaffirming the creative spirit.

 

Featured Poem: The Spell of the Union

 

Joy A. Burki-Watson
Member-at-large

 

I wanted release so I sought it, I worked in the South as a slave,
Freedom took plenty of forethought and more than a fair share of brave.
I’d not be deprived of a free life, all because of my color at birth
And surely, I’d find that my past strife would urge me to work for my worth.

 

My mother, a servant in Beaufort — my father, the slave owner’s son,
All hushed by their need for concealment, where the white of my black was homespun;
I was named Robert Smalls for that reason and slaved in their fields as a youth
Then shipped off to Charleston, unseasoned, to slave on their docks — Gospel truth!

 

Sail maker would soon become rigger and then onward I’d pilot their ships,
Always the slave and the ‘nigger’ [sic] and always kept under their grips.
’twas Charleston, South Carolina that faced the first shots of that war
And I at wheel of a steamer, saw freedom like never before!

 

In the early hours of May13th, the white crew aboard took shore leave
And left me in charge of my own life as well as that ship I’d now thieve.
The C.S.S. Planter was loaded with all of my kinfolk and peers
It served us as liberty’s motive and way to escape our past years.

 

I then donned the captain’s attire and steered out through mine-laden bay,
I’d signal the guards at Fort Sumter and head out the ocean’s seaway
Once out of Confederate gun range, I made a fast dash to be free
Knowing full well that we’d look strange to the blockade and Union navy.

 

With white flag a’waving surrender, I offered up guns and the ship
And all of us joined with those forces to challenge the South’s leadership —
How civil is war of derision when folks are not treated with fair?
It certainly made “split-decision” a term for this nation’s warfare.

 

Ev’ry good war has its heroes and I wanted to fill those big shoes
After the war I returned to the place where now I could alter old views.
I served five terms as a Congressman and constituent’s rep for what’s right
Offering reasons to take a stand when life presented foresight!

 

I also would purchase the mansion where Mother and I were enslaved;
It stands for new eras of fashion and all of the things we once craved.
I wanted release so I sought it, I worked in the South as a slave
Freedom took plenty of forethought and more than a fair share of brave.

 

Special Notes:
Robert Smalls (1839-1916) was a black American statesman who was born a slave and made a daring escape at the beginning of the Civil War. After the war he went on to have a successful political career; first serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate before being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1874. Later in his life he was appointed U.S. Collector of Customs in Beaufort South Carolina serving from 1889 through 1911.

An interesting fact is that he bought and lived in the house in which he had been a slave. He actually allowed his former slave-master’s wife to move back into the house shortly before her death.

Robert Smalls died on February 23rd of 1915, the cause of death was unspecified.

Featured Art: Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night photo

“Queen of the Night,” 6 by 6 photo, by Polly Curran
Sarasota Branch, Florida

pollycurranphotography.zenfolio.com

 

Artist’s statement

The “Queen of the Night” is an extraordinary plant. It is prized for its excellence in bloom, size, fragrance — and the fact that it only blooms for a single night each year. It is also called “night-blooming cereus,” a subtropical cactus.

I have this plant in my garden and enjoy watching the progress from a small bud to the moment it begins to turn its face upward and finally show its full bloom, maybe 6 inches in diameter. I  wrote a haiku for this very special moment:

She makes her appearance hidden in darkness

Behold her radiance for one night only;

This remarkable Queen of the Night

 

Featured Poem: If You Have Ever Loved to Dance

 

Janet Fagal
Central New York Branch

 

You never forget the feeling.
The joy of suppleness and strength,
of spins and twirls, and the appearance of floating.
Perhaps you have danced ballet.
Been the Sugar Plum Fairy at a tender age
in a children’s play,
danced in a Rockettes-style majorette troupe,
performed at a World’s Fair, in parades or on stage.

 

Maybe you have tapped your way to joy. Felt the power
of your toes and heels, calves and thighs,
clicking up and down the stairs,
arms marking the cadence, adding zest to the scene.
Folk-danced for fun with friends from all over the world,
tried modern jazz, ballroom, hip hop.
Delighted in the oneness of music and movement,
whole body in use, on display, speaking from every cell of your being.
Mind counting the beat, remembering the steps.
The exhilaration of the dance, the beauty of classical or modern,
seen in strong, toned bodies, able to stretch and bend as required.
Clothed in vibrant or gossamer costumes,
sending a message about art. Creativity. Life.

 

Dance needs big spaces, time to practice,
dedication to exactness and extension.
The dancer so fit, combining grace, determination, flow, rhythm.
If you have ever loved to dance, it never leaves you,
even though you may leave it.
If you have ever loved to dance and you are old,
replaying it in your mind
is bittersweet tucked in between the joy.

 

This poem was Inspired by Suzanne Beason’s painting “Replaying the Dance, 2017,” which juried into the Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY: 2018 Made in New York show. The NLAPW Central New York Branch participated in an ekphrastic event where our new creations were inspired by the art on display.

Featured Poem: My Monet

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City II, Texas

 

(To Dad)

 

He will always be my Monet
My tired-eyed yet dutiful father
All of his paintings
Are emblazoned on my mind
Hanging on the walls of my heart
-I claim them all-
By virtue of my memories
Of every brushstroke
And resistant signature
That defined his uniqueness
Perhaps he thought I
Didn’t take his painting seriously enough
-But I did –
I admired every application of his sable brushes
That transformed paint into life
And if and when we meet again one day
I’ll reassure him with the words
“Dad, you always were and will be
My Monet.”

 

Featured Art: The Potato Chip Wars — Call to Battle

Mara-Levin-The-Potato-Chip-Wars-Call-to-Battle,-oil-on-cradled-birch-panel,-20-x16

The Potato Chip Wars: Call to Battle by Mara E. Levin; Wellesley Branch, Massachusetts 

Oil on cradled birch panel, 20 by 16 inches

www.maralevin.com

 

Mara E. Levin is a fine artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and art educator. She studied with modern masters including Congor Metcalf, Lloyd Lillie, David Aaronson, David Ratner, and Nick Edmunds while earning her bachelor of fine arts degree from Boston University. Her subjects include landscape, cityscape, still life, the figure, and portraiture. She is also deeply interested in studio methods and materials, frequently experimenting with new mediums and techniques, and often constructing and finishing her own painting supports.

Artist statement

This painting is from my series, The Potato Chip Wars, painted from photographs I took at the popular Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts. The bugler calls the avian troops to assemble for the next battle. Or is he issuing a challenge?
This peaceful scene, the first of the series, is marked by the shimmering beauty of nature and the day. It evokes the calm before the stormy fight for chips.

Featured Art: Shawme Pond Swans

Kathryn-Kleekamp-Shawme-Pond-Swans

“Shawme Pond Swans” by Kathryn Kleekamp, Cape Cod Branch

Oil on Canvas, 9 by 12 inches 

www.SandwichArt.com

 

The story behind “Shawme Pond Swans,” in the artist’s own words:

 

 I live on Shawme Pond in Sandwich, Massachusetts. I’ve delighted in the annual event of watching our resident pair of swans build their nest while the air is still cool in early spring. The first sighting of the tiny new cygnets is usually around Mother’s Day.

Two years ago, the swans had a beautiful family of eight babies, right on schedule. Unfortunately, nature is not always kind. Our pond has many predators — snapping turtles, coyotes, raccoons, and owls. One by one, the number of cygnets diminished. However, several weeks later, I was relieved to see the pen (female swan) once again sitting on her nest.

This second nesting time seemed particularly long. I watched the pen, day after day, in rain and wind, patiently sitting on her nest, denying herself feedings and baths. My heart was deeply touched at her unwearied care. Happily, once again she had a clutch — this time, six cygnets.

A week or so later, when she and her mate came to the shore to visit, they were alone. I knew the devoted pair would never leave their little ones and once again, I was heartbroken. I can’t begin to express my agony over this second cruel blow.

As they glided closer to shore, however, the pen opened her wings and I saw a beautiful cluster of tiny, gray heads tucked in together on her back. In an instant, my tears were those of great joy and happy relief. I raced into the house to get my camera. This oil painting is from one of the photos I took that morning, happily catching the last hesitant cygnet still on mom’s back.

—Kathryn Kleekamp

P.S. Out of the six, five cygnets grew to adulthood and were quite breathtaking to see as they flew away to find a new home together.