Today is the first day of the annual New England SCBWI Conference in Springfield, Mass., and that’s where I’ll be most of this weekend – so if I don’t reply to your comments or chat on Facebook or Twitter much, it’ll be because I’m busy stuffin’ my brain. The other reason I mention the conference is because today’s poem would not have turned out the way it did, had I not gone to the 2012 conference.
You see, last year I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Jane Yolen. We chatted about poetry, the conference workshops, and books, and I came away from our two separate conversations with some unexpected inspiration!
For months, I had been struggling with an idea for a poem that just would not gel. I wanted to write something about wildflowers – lady slippers, in particular – but nothing worked. Then a few days after I had gotten home from the conference, I came upon a poem of Jane’s that had just been published, titled “Tenth Avenue Highline.” Even though it had nothing to do with wildflowers, it triggered something and I came up with the closing stanza. Then the opening stanza. And after a few days of working at it, I had finished the first draft!
It’s gone through several revisions since then, of course – but I’m pretty happy with it. Some folks have noted it has an old-fashioned sort of feel to it, which was my intention. I liked the idea of a pretty outdoor scene in the old countryside, almost like something out of American folklore, if that makes sense.
By the way, I was going to title it simply, “Wildflowers,” but I thought I should add ‘for Jane’ to the title, to give credit where credit was due…and fortunately, Jane liked it! I hope you do, too. And for all the Poetry Friday happenings, be sure to visit Liz Steinglass’ blog!
“Wildflowers, for Jane”
Lilies of the Valley hang
Like silent little bells
That neither sang nor ever rang
Of welcomes and farewells.
Red clover, small and softly sweet,
Stands proud despite its size;
White daisies, with their nectar-treat,
Court bees and butterflies.
The Queen Anne’s Lace is in its place,
The buttercups are set,
A pitcher plant provides a vase –
And woeful fly’s regret.
While milkweed, with its many mates,
Sways nobly to and fro,
One tender Lady Slipper waits
For one fair, dainty toe.
– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine