I am going to strive to comment, once a week, on a person who has come into my life and brought blessing and inspiration.
It may be a person I’ve never met. It may be someone I know through email. It may be someone close to me.
Seems appropriate to start with someone close to me…
Anne Maureen Doe Overstreet is an amazing woman. She’s amazing in that she remains committed to the hard, solitary, overlooked work of poetry. While others are working for paychecks, for recognition, and many other motives, she’s quietly carving at the clay of a blank sheet of paper, finding just the right words to capture experiences that she can then powerfully share with others.
I spend so much time talking about art and so little time actually making it. She endures the cacophonous quality of my activity, the rambling on after movie screenings, the endless Web site updates, the correspondence, the busy-ness. And she goes right on reading, thinking, praying, and writing.
Somehow, she makes me think of what we might have been in Eden.
I came across this quote on another blog today, and it suits Anne’s efforts in poetry perfectly. Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbled, or where a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and who comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who never knew victory or defeat.”
Anne is a hero in the arena of poetry for me. She spends next-to-zero time trying to get published (although when she tries, she IS published). But when she quietly shares her poetry with me, within our circle of friends, with our church, you can hear a pin drop. There’s mystery and magic in what she does, and I am continually in awe.
Thank you, Anne, again, for inspiring me to put down my critical pen and go try out the hard work of writing. Criticism matters, but only as a small piece of the larger effort, which is to create, to reflect, to reveal, to collaborate with God, and then to stand back and let the poem do its awesome and mysterious work.