Monday, June 18, 2012

The Permanence of Words, with Mary Allen

While newspaper articles usually make a difference for a day, audible recorded words may linger a bit longer, and novelists hope their work stays in print more than a few years, Mary Allen has the experience of knowing her words are cast in gold plate and concrete. The moral of this story--look for opportunies that you might not have considered and think outside the box.

 As with most authors, I would like to make a tidal wave instead of a splash in the puddle of the literary world. I soon learned that despite being called to write, I was not going to have a tidal wave before I even had a puddle.

In the early years, I turned down many writing opportunities because I felt called to fiction. Looking back with regret, I see God wanted to hone my writing as well as provide income for me. Eventually, I learned to grab whatever opportunities came my way.

When the La Porte (Indiana) Poet Laureate was established, I was already trying to write a poem a day as an exercise in imagery, composition, and rhythm. I placed a few times, and was crushed when a piece I thought particularly promising didn’t claim the title. No matter how good the piece is, if it is not appropriate to the target audience it doesn’t win. So, I took that into account and was crowned La Porte County Poet Laureate 2010. The Poet Laureate reads at the Arts in the Park program and judges the next year’s poems.

The title brought me to the attention of James Bevin an avid member of Lincoln Highway Association. He commissioned me to create a poem about the Indiana portion of the historic highway. I read books and visited sites and delivered a completed work. He was thrilled with the content, as I had mentioned several of the state’s attractions while showing how the present is connected to the past.

Mr. Bevins had shared his plans for a kiosk, one of four on the Indiana route and suggested that my poem might be used. If it was, I expected it to be on a sheet of paper beneath a layer of plexi-glass, easily changed out for something more interesting.

A year later when I arrived for the dedication ceremony, I stood with the current Mayor of La Porte, her predecessor, the Head of Chamber of Commerce, and several national, regional, as well as local members of the Lincoln Highway Association.

At the unveiling, I was amazed to see my poem “Connected” engraved on a plaque on the wooden frame of the kiosk. What I saw as a humble work, God chose to honor. This reminds me of how God’s ways are higher than our ways and His understanding higher than our understanding. It calls me to give my best to the job at hand, listening for His leading, but not making human judgments of importance or worthiness. God blesses faithfulness.

Picture 1: these men built the kiosk
Picture 2: dedication
Picture 3: Mary (gray suit) at the ceremony

Mary Allen is writer who enjoys the Midwest where she lives with her husband and a very fine German Short Hair Pointer. She loves The Word and teaching it, reading, writing or playing with words and served as La Porte County Poet Laureate from 2010-2011. She contributes to Constant Content and
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