Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Finding Magic: A Guest Post by Kathy Davis

Please extend a warm welcome to my guest today, poet Kathy Davis, the author of Passiflora, a book of poems published in 2021.  This eclectic debut collection features poems about children, relationships, nature, aging, loss, art, and more, that are unique, intelligent, and even a bit humorous at times.  In the exclusive guest post below, Kathy Davis talks about what led to the creation of some of the poems in the book.  I hope you will find it as inspiring as I did!

Finding Magic:  A Guest Post by Kathy Davis

What do you do when something’s niggling at you? Something you saw or heard that stays in your head for days, weeks or even years as if begging to be dealt with, explored?  For me, I’ve learned the only way it will stop nagging is if I help it find a home in a poem.

Once when I was checking out a book in the small rural library near my home, a woman came in and asked if the library would like a pony. I could tell by the librarian’s face that she, like me, was stunned into imagining what they would do with a pony.  Let it wander the stacks?  Use it to entertain children during story hour?  Turn it out to graze the surrounding lawn?  That momentary flight of fancy was enchanting, but the spell was broken when another woman brought the subject inside.  It was a life-size stuffed toy Shetland pony—a much more manageable donation which found a home in the children’s section. The librarian later shared other remarkable happenings, such as the flock of guinea hens that would occasionally wander over to loudly police the grounds, and the phone calls the front desk received asking them to keep an eye out for a loose cow that might pop by.  She described all of this with sincere delight, the same sense of wonder that stayed with me and turned into the poem “The Shetland.”

Volunteering at my sons’ elementary school, I met a student’s mother who was recovering from chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer.  An artist, she was too weak to paint like she used to but had discovered she could mix her dryer lint with glue and sculpt it into human figures and other forms.  She described how the lint colors varied based on the mix of clothes dried and the various creative possibilities she saw with each shade.  When her neighbors learned about her new passion, they began to collect their own dryer lint and leave it in her mailbox, ensuring she always had a steady supply of material.  I carried her story in my head for years, remembering again and again the resilience of her creative spirit, her community’s support, until a piece of dryer lint sculpture found its way into my poem “Eve: After the Fall.”  

When my husband and I lived in Chicago during the early 80s, Lake Michigan always froze over in late winter, becoming a massive plain of ice and snow.  So, I was shocked when I returned in February a few years ago and saw it as blue and ice-free as during the warmer months.  In fact, the lake had not frozen over for many years—a startling reminder of the damage done by climate change.  Then, on the walk back to where I was staying, I saw a group of teenage boys in the distance playing chicken on the railroad tracks as a train was approaching.  I felt helpless to do anything but watch and hope they’d be OK. The anxiety produced by the change in the lake and the boys’ risky behavior stood out as a sharp contrast with my experience of Chicago as a young newlywed, when I had not yet had much experience with grief and loss and everything good seemed possible.  It made me think about how I had changed over the years and ultimately led to the poem “Freeze.”  

We can’t force inspiration to happen. And if we’re always looking for something big and lofty, supernatural or divine—we may miss the transcendent nature of moments in our day-to-day lives. When something seemingly ordinary keeps niggling at us, I think that’s the universe saying: Look! There’s magic here.


Photos from Kathy Davis


Photo notes: The photos of the poet's writing space, where some of the magic of creating poetry occurs, are quite lovely; I'd be inspired to write in this pretty room with the pretty view! The Georgia O'Keeffe art print (on the bright orange wall) depicts clouds, but it reminds the poet of the ice chunks she used to see on Lake Michigan (as mentioned in her guest post). 

Learning about the inspiration of some of the poems in the book, "The Shetland", "Eve: After the Fall",  and "Freeze", added another dimension to this work for me.  All of the poems in Passiflora are lovingly crafted, and capture different moments, moods, and details with beauty and finesse. They tell stories of everyday life in an extraordinary fashion. I didn't read the poems out loud, but I did read some of them, including "The Shetland", more than once.  That's what I do when I really like a poem (unless it's extremely long).  These poems are outstanding, and touched me in various ways.  



Special thanks to Kathy Davis for this guest post and for graciously sending me a copy of Passiflora, and to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to join the tour.  For more reviews of this book and other features, please visit the other stops on the Passiflora tour.  I wanted to do something special for National Poetry Month, and reading this book was the perfect way for me to celebrate. There are still a few more days in April if you're also interested in celebrating by reading, listening to, or writing(!) some poetry, though of course poetry may be enjoyed all year long. 

Thank you very much for reading!  I welcome and appreciate your comments.

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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