One of my very favorite authors, Louise Penny, was here this past Wed. at a local library 15 minutes from my house. Some years ago a friend recommended her books, beginning with Still Life. I was going through some serious medical problems and needed some good distraction. I’m a voracious reader. I loved the books featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in the Surete du Quebec, each book individually and also the continuing long arc of the story. The latest in the series just came out August 27, How the Light Gets In. I had pre-ordered it on my nook. (No spoilers, but I loved it. Worth waiting for! Very satisfying read!)
I had a conflict and decided not to go see her. The conflict resolved itself and still I did not make plans to go. I happened to mention Louise Penny was coming and my husband said, “Of course you are going.” Not really as a question. And I said, “No I didn’t think so.” And he replied, “Of course you are going!”
I don’t know why I didn’t jump at the chance to see her. We are connected on Facebook. She posts delightful slivers from her life, which I read every day. She is lovely and so inclusive, very personal and welcoming, as if we knew each other. Perhaps I did not want to have the reality competing with the illusion. Maybe I was feeling shy. In any case, in a burst of light-heartedness I called the library to register and was put on the waiting list. Only a few were ahead of me, I got a call later to confirm my attendance.
This was not my library so the day before I drove past to be sure of directions and parking. An eBook cannot be signed, so what was I going for? Perhaps I had written poems inspired by her books? To find out I scanned my poetic journal going back to 2006. I have written thousands of poems since then, organized into files of 6 months each. In the course of searching for Louise-related poems, I found lots of other poems of interest, especially for my next collection (more soon). And two for Louise.
I checked them over and printed them out to take with me. I thought I might also get a book signed for a friend. And maybe give Louise my CD. That was the plan.
I was early and got parking right in front. I found a seat in the third row and bought the new book for my friend. Louise walked in right on time. She was at ease, gracious and funny, thoughtful and insightful. She talked about how she came to write and the poems she uses in the books. She generously answered questions. I felt wonderful listening to her talk about her writing history. Not that we are the same, or share the same story, but we are both ultimately optimists. We love to read, and love to write. I felt unreasonably encouraged. Uplifted. What a gift!
Afterwards I waited in a long, but well-organized line. When my turn came to talk to her, I handed her the 2 poems and my CD. She graciously received my offering, taking my hand saying how she loved poets. (“Was it ok to read them later?” “Of course,” I said.) I told her I was interested in how creativity prompts further creativity. The librarian organizer took our smiling photo. I felt not shy, but kindred, and welcomed with open arms. An unanticipated feeling of belonging. Thank you!
Here are the two poems.
Reading The Cruelest Month
(with reference to Leonard Cohen and Diana Jones)
Is there anyone aware who
does not feel a fraud
as if secrets can no longer be hid,
as if the dark outweighs
any achievement—if only
“they” could see past the veil,
the illusion, the image, the lie perpetuated?
Is there anyone who was and remains
so pure and accomplished, so honest,
who never tried to pass
shine for rust,
who in some corner of some cage,
feared discovery, feared…
feared…feared…until blind and deaf to beauty,
until consumed with self-loathing replacing self-discovery?
Can simple love heal the breach;
and the imperfection—the crack that lets the light in—
lets the light in? Forever. Amen.
Margaret Dubay Mikus
For and about Eric, Louise, and Anne
I not only
what you put out,
but how, with what intelligence-
you can muster.
How broad your reach,
how humble yet powerful,
you may do what you must,
with the help that comes
overcome inevitable darkness.
Not thinking of me,
or me exactly, but
I am here soaking it all in,
I am here inspired…
Margaret Dubay Mikus