Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Andrea Carter Brown – poetry and positivity

September 04, 2022 Claire Waite Brown / Andrea Carter Brown Episode 56
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Andrea Carter Brown – poetry and positivity
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Show Notes Transcript
Escaping the horrors of 9/11 on foot, and coming to temrs with the experiences through poetry.
Andrea Carter Brown fell in love with reading poetry as an angsty teenager, but couldn’t bring herself to try writing it because she was put off by the high standard of the works she read.
‘If I couldn’t write like the greats, I wasn’t going to try.’
Many years later Andrea’s friend took her to a New York poetry reading and, in that darkened room, Andrea began writing her own poetry on the only paper she could quickly find, and for weeks afterward she did nothing but write, letting years of pent-up poetry spill out of her.
Fast forward and Andrea has published a number of poetry collections, including one about her experiences of escaping on foot from her apartment close to the World Trade Center on 9/11, and the effects of that experience on her and her community in the 20 years in between the event and her publishing the collection, entitled September 12.
In this episode Andrea also reads one of the poems from September 12, that she chose specially for us at Creativity Found.
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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
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Artworks: Emily Portnoi
Photo: Ella Pallet

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How could I have lucked out to have this Charmed, fulfilment of the circle that began when I fled that morning. Hi, I'm Claire, founder of creativity found a community for creative learners and educators, connecting adults who want to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them do so. With workshops, courses, online events and kits. For this podcast, I chat with people who have found or refound their creativity as adults. We explore their childhood experiences of the arts, discuss how they came to the artistic practices they now love, and consider the barriers they may have experienced between the two. We'll also explore what it is that people value and gain from their newfound artistic pursuits, and how their creative lives enrich their practical, necessary everyday lives. For this episode, my guest is Andrea Carter Brown, who loves to read his child, but never imagined she could be a writer herself. She had a successful business life thanks to her love of numbers, and embarked on a mammoth biography project before hitting an impossible writer's block. She wrote her first poetry in the darkness of New York club, and in 2001, had to flee her apartment and Battery Park. As the World Trade Centre fell. Keep listening to her Andrea's fascinating stories and hear her read a poem from her collection entitled September 12. That she chose specially for us here at creativity found. Hi, Andrea, how are you? Hi, Claire, I'm fine. Very happy to be with you. Oh, you're very welcome. Since the late 1990s, you have been a poet and an editor of poetry. But let's go back to your childhood and discuss where the writing and creative pursuits in general, were important to you and encouraged in you by those around you. Good question, very thought provoking. I am the first artist in my family ever. As far as I can tell. I grew up in a household where neither my mother nor my father were readers. We had virtually no books in the house. And I would say no original art whatsoever. But very early on, my mother took me to the library and encouraged me to read. I remember going and leaving with the most number of books, they allowed me to check out at a given time, which I remember was a pile of maybe a foot high. And the next day going back for a new pile of 10 to 12 books. So I would say that reading was my lifeline. As a child. I had a happy childhood. I would say it wasn't perfect, but it was happy. But by the time I became a teenager, of course, like all teenagers, I became pretty miserable creature. And that was when I discovered poetry. My mother started giving me books every Christmas. I still have many of them. One of the earliest was Robert Louis Stevenson's a child to the garden versus, and then when I was a teenager, she gave me the company Lead Emily Dickinson, a poet, I came to revere. I think she speaks to the unhappy adolescent in all of us, and to the unhappy adult in all of us. So I would say that she fostered my love of poetry. First, she nurtured the seed, neither of us having any idea of where it would lead. It was just something that nourished me. At the time, I, I loved poetry so much, but I never considered writing it. Maybe I tried occasionally, but very quickly, became frustrated. Because the standards of poetry that were held up to me to write by were so rigid and formal, the whole Shakespearean sonnet, rhyme scheme and metre, well, that was completely impossible to me. It basically still is, I have to confess, but and so I would try to write along those lines, and very quickly knew that nothing good was going to come out of that. And I aspired though to write, like the greats, and if I could write like the greats, I wasn't going to try. I would say I wrote my first poem, when I was in my mid 30s. And we can get back to how that happened. In college, I studied French. I studied French literature, I am language. I did my masters in Paris, and considered moving there permanently. But eventually, I decided that America was where my roots were, and I had to reconnect with them. So I came back here. And I continued working on my PhD in French. But right at the end of it, when I was getting ready to write my dissertation and defend it, I'd done all of the coursework. I had taken my orals. Really, I woke up one day saying to myself, What are you doing? This is preparing you to teach French teach college I have had offers and departments were interested. I swore I would never be a teacher. But here I had a whole education which prepared me to do that, and I walked away. So strong was my aversion to becoming a teacher. This university had given me fellowships, and they had invested a lot of money in me. And I felt quite guilty for a long time that I had not done what I thought they wanted me to do with my French studies. And that haunted me for a long time, but I had to make a living. And I had been working in business part time to supplement the money that the university gave me because it wasn't really enough to live off of. And I was a bookkeeper. How did I become a bookkeeper? My, my two aunts were bookkeepers. And my father taught math. And I had always liked numbers and been good in what, what is now I now understand, it's not math, but arithmetic. But anyway, and I put a lot of numbers in my poems, I still love them. And I sort of slid into this career as a businesswoman and left the French behind. And I did that for a while, basically through my 20s into my early 30s. And then I had this other wake up call. When I I was working very long hours. It was a very demanding job that I had at the time. And there wasn't time for anything else. I remember I took a two week vacation to England. And when I came back, my boss said to me, Well, you know, you can't take two weeks together. We can't have you away for two weeks together. I thought, why give me the vacation. I had three weeks vacation. I was even taking all of it. I mean, I understood but I didn't want to live like that. And the form that epiphany took was, I want to write a book. So do you think that was perhaps an ultimatum to something that was maybe already formulating in your brain to go back to writing or maybe feeling dissatisfied with the accountancy? And then that was like the camel that broke the note the straw that broke the camel's back? No, I think you're probably right. But it was on such a subconscious level that I was not aware that myself, because when I was studying French, the French literature that I love the most, and that I wrote all of my biggest papers about was French poetry. And what do you do with that? I mean, I wasn't going to write in French. All I could do with that was write about poetry that other people had written. And I didn't want to do that either. Yeah. So I do think that there were a lot of threads sort of coming together. But the reason I mentioned that I came from a family with no books that didn't read, actually, we had, all of us had Bibles. My mother was quite religious. And I think that not having any art in my family history means that it did not occur to me to be an artist, there were no models for it. And my parents had no way of nurturing that other than my mother nurturing my reading. I remember the first time I showed my father, a poem I had written, it was a rhymed poem, in quatrains. It had been published in a book, and it won a little prize. So I thought, okay, it has the imprimatur of someone else deciding that this was a worthwhile poem to publish. Now I can show it to my father. And he asked me to read it. I read it, he said, but it doesn't rhyme. Because I was using the kind of rhymes that we use these days, which are slap rhymes and off rhymes. And it wasn't that Hallmark card kind of hard rhyme. Part of my path. And I think it's why it took me so long to get to it is that I've been inventing my own wheel. Nowadays, there are so many writers that come out of writing programmes. There were very, very few of them. When I was in college. I think the first programmes in this country got started in the 70s, while I was finished with giving myself away here, but I had finished my education pretty much by then. And the same thing I'm going to detour a little bit applies to my editorial career, which I came to after I came to poetry. But the minute I started doing editing, I thought to myself, Why didn't it occur to me to become an editor? I came out of college with a degree in literature with a graduate degree in literature, it would have been unnatural. Well, I didn't even know that such a path was possible. I think a lot of people slip into what their families have done. And, and to the extent that they have a talent that that fulfils in the case of accounting for me. I've maintained my love of numbers. And I found an expression forward in my writing. But doing the books for other people's businesses, per se, was just as bad as writing about what other people wrote. Yeah, yeah. So I'm a late bloomer, you've got a late bloomer on your on your podcast. We love them. We like them very much. But I know what you mean. It's not the first time that it's come up that it never occurred to me that doing such a thing was a thing you could do. No artists, authors, editors. That certainly has come up a few times. So you said you got fed up, like go and go right. I've had no Half an hour of doing the accountancy What does then that actually, physically, logistically mean? You then do or did like the next day, the next day I started going to the Lincoln centre Performing Arts Library. I was living in New York at the time. Because there was a 19th century pianist Clara Schumann. I knew about her my husband plays the piano. He plays Robert Schumann. He plays Beethoven. He plays Brahms. And if you know anything about Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, you've heard of Clara Schumann. But I think she stuck in my mind. Because going back to childhood, if I could have been anything, I would have been a pianist. I loved music. i In retrospect, I don't think I have the talent. I mean, I don't have the mind for it. i But. But I was born with a minor birth defect, which prevents me from writing from playing the piano. And I don't have the full use of one of my hands. But it didn't prevent me from sitting at my aunt's piano, and trying to play the piano. hours and hours and hours until her husband, my uncle begged her to tell me to take a break. And so the idea of writing a book of exploring this woman's life, fascinated me. As it turns out, reading about her struggles, her own struggles, to become a successful artist. And to balance her art needs. With her domestic life has served as an inspiration to me ever since. I went to the library, I said to my husband, I'm going to write a biography of Clara Shuma. What can I say? Was that pie in the sky or what? I've never written a poem. I had never written a short story. And Clara Schumann a spoke and wrote in German. All of her archival material was then in East Germany. I had to learn German. I had to study how to read music. I took a little crash course in music history. And I read everything that I could read. And I worked on this book for probably four years, I had inherited a modest gift from a friend of a family, which I had never spent. I didn't know why I held on to it. But again, it was there for me to use. I did a research trip for five months in Easter in Germany and East Germany. And then I came back, and I, I worked on the book until I got to a section of her story, which I could not emotionally handle. And I hit writer's block. And that part of the story since I can see from the expression on your face after she was widowed, as a 37 year old woman with seven children, rather than raise them herself. She sent them out to foster homes. Usually separately, couple of them stayed together, so she could go back and perform. She travelled all over Europe, she played for Queen Victoria. She was the diva of the piano world at this time. I felt judgmental of her for making that choice. If you're writing a biography you fold in love with your subject. You try to see your subject warts and all because that's your responsibility. But if you don't love your subject, you can't really write the book. And when I became judgmental of her, I lost my love for her. This chapter about her life, I must have rewritten the opening paragraph for months on end. Yeah. And eventually, the inheritance gave out. So I went back to work part time as a freelance accountant that set the stage for what I did next. Yeah, so that's a lot of, it's a lot of work and a lot of time, and a lot of emotional as well as physical energy being put into that, which then, as you've explained, abruptly came to a stop and couldn't go any further, which is fascinating. How did you then start writing poetry? How long was it until you got work published? How did that all kind of move on? So from from this position of writer's block on this gargantuan project, a friend knew how frustrated I was, and I didn't know what to do. She took me to a poetry reading. She was going to them regularly. I wasn't, I didn't even know they exist, it to tell you the truth. It was so far out of my realm. But she went to the Monday night series of the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which is probably the most famous reading series in the US. And I had never heard of the person who was reading. Her name was Mary Jo Salter. She was reading from her first collection of poetry, which was called Henry personal in Japan. I want to interject that Mary Jo has gone on to have an illustrious, wonderful career. And she's still writing. And while she was reading these poems, the dam broke. I'm sitting there in the dark. I'm hearing her write what she wrote about living in Japan. It was her immersion in a foreign culture. And my experiences doing research on Clara Schumann in East Germany swelled up in me, and I found a scrap of paper. And I scribbled away. And for a couple of weeks, I did nothing. But let this poetry spill out of me, I must have written a poem a day. First poems I ever wrote, I still have them. Almost immediately, I knew that this was, what I wanted to do. And what I was meant to do. That work has largely never been published, although it will be in my next book. Because the people and the experiences that it was about in East Germany, had told me that it was dangerous to them, if I wrote about them, stayed in touch with them. So I had this incredibly intense, almost existential experience of being there by myself, in this small, very grubby industrial East German city, which is coincidentally where the archives were, and meeting these fabulous people who were trying to support themselves as artists. In a repressive political regime. What were they doing? They were in a puppet theatre. So you could say things in East Germany, if you did them with puppets, carefully, that you could not say, as me speaking to you, or in your own voice. And believe me at that time, that was the only cultural thing to do in this whole little city. So I wrote those poems. It made me happy to write them even if I couldn't share them with the people who would inspire them. And very quickly, I said, I need to do what I can do to become a better writer. So I started taking workshops. In New York, there's a lot of them. I studied with a succession of poets whose work I liked for about four years. So this brings us up to like late 80s 90. And in one of those workshops The last poem that I wrote one a little prize. And my teacher, same was Nicholas Christopher, who had really busted me the whole time. The whole I studied with him for a year, I thought I, every time I would come home from the class, I would open the door to the apartment come in, close the door and burst into tears. And my husband started worrying that I was like a masochist. But he was such a tough teacher. But I wanted to please Him. And on this poem, he wrote, now this is a poem. Wow. And that was enough to buoy me on to the next level. Yeah. And from that period, my work began to be published in reputable, some of them very good journals. It was the very beginning of that period that the poem that I read from my father dates. Yeah. So learning how to live with the number of rejections you get from sending your work out, is, it's an acquired skill, and not everybody has it. And there are people I've known over the years who could write beautifully, but who just couldn't stomach, the sort of constantly putting yourself out there and not getting accepted. But fortunately, in my case, there was enough positive reinforcement through this period. And it increased, until I had a small collection of poems published called a chapbook, which won a little prize. And then I had a full length collection, which made the rounds again, you know, you get rejected for the individual poems, but you also get rejected for the collections. You keep reworking the poems, even when they've been published, you sort of you never finished really. Anyway, that full length collection got accepted and was published in 2006. But by then 911 had happened. Yes, because I want to talk to you about your book, September 12, which wasn't published until 2021. Yes. And it's about your experience during 911. So, can you tell me about your experience, and maybe why you chose to, or maybe it wasn't a conscious choice to wait until 2021 to publish that collection? Oh, boy. Okay, well 911 changed my life in absolutely every way. As I write about in the book, we lived in an apartment, which was a block as the crow flies from the World Trade Centre, and we had lived there since 1987. That part of New York is called Battery Park City. We lived on this sliver of landfill, which had been then developed between the skyscrapers in lower Manhattan and the Hudson River. It was a pretty magical place, it still is. So the morning of 911, I was in my apartment, getting ready to go to one of my accounting clients because I was still part time and accountant. And I didn't hear anything. I didn't know anything was happening. Until my sister called me having seen the footage on good manner. Good Morning, America of the first plane going into the North Tower. She knew how close I was. And her first word, she needed to say hello. She said, are you okay? And of course, I was okay. But the minute I looked out the living room window, I knew I knew I had to flee. And I saw very, very difficult things which still haunt me and it Took me 100 miles and 12 hours to reach my husband in Westchester where he was coincidentally on a business meeting. He thought I was dead for the three hours that I couldn't reach him because cell phones were down. And everything I did that day was to survive. But I kept my eyes open. And I watched. And I saw and I wanted to record what I had seen. I headed south to flee. Because otherwise I would have had to go so close to the buildings that I would have been in danger of being hit by falling debris, falling bodies. So anywhere else seems like the best way to go. And the only way the the only other way was south. I ended up on Staten Island. from Staten Island was strangers. I went through New Jersey, up across the Tappan Zee Bridge into Westchester. over the over the course of that day. I met wonderful people, I saw more horrible things. And I thought, this is part of the historical record. I want to record this so that the story of 911 is fleshed out in human terms. For example, I was taken into the house of a complete stranger, a woman on Staten Island as a sort of waystation. And she took in 50 people well, when I was in that house, which is now crammed with people who had fled. I looked around and it was a microcosm of New York or racists, tourists, young people, old people, you were sort of throwing yourself on the mercy of strangers will you take me to the Brit. And as we were doing that, we came to a very poor area of Staten Island. And there were people milling around all over there were people milling around, no one knew what to do. They were watching TVs in this place had a betting parlour and the TV course wasn't showing racist. It was showing the television coverage. As we were sort of asking strain years. I heard a gun shot. I saw a guy murdered. He was about maybe maybe 100 feet away, Max. I saw the police come pull a blanket up over him. Put him in the back of the hearse. The ambulance they they perfunctorily interviewed, the people were hanging around. They didn't arrest anybody. But there were more important things to do than worry about one little murder on Staten Island. But you know, I had never experienced that. I mean, I've been I've had a lucky life, Claire, what can I say? And even I want to say about 911 I'm filled with gratitude for all of the things and the people who helped me survive, endure, get this book written. And you know, that the day wasn't the end of the story. Of course, for those of us especially. Well, of course it wasn't the end of the story for people who lost loved ones that day. And they are still struggling. You know, everybody responds differently to tragedy. Some people have the ability to sort of wall it off and go on with their lives. Other people are it becomes the defining moment of their lives and they cannot move on. And then I would put myself somewhere in the middle there. That's the short version of why it took 20 years to get this collection of poetry published. I didn't start writing it for a couple of years, unlike many other artists who were confronted with that experience, I did not immediately sit down and write about it. This was my second case of writer's block. And I mean, this was a completely different kind of writer's block. Because, and I think I think I'm going to the poem that I'm going to read for you is about this. So I won't describe it because the opening of the poem talks a little bit about that. But once I started writing, about a year and a half later, I would say to be completely accurate, to bear witness as accurately as possible, required my being willing to go emotionally to the experiences, and I'm one of the people who has a post 911 respiratory disease, because of exposure to the dust. It's under control took a long time to get it under control. But during this period, we had not yet found, actually, the doctors didn't even really know what it was. They tried all the traditional things. And it wasn't recognised as a particular kind of asthma, particular kind of pulmonary disease. Every time I started writing this material, after about five or six hours, I would start having the, the illness would come back. So I would be literally sick in the same way. And what can you do, you have to respect that it's your body telling you something. But I had to learn to live with it if I wanted to get this book done. So the account of that day, took me probably a couple of years to write. That's the title sequence of my book called September 12. It was originally written as, as sommets, as interconnected sonnets. Going back to those adolescent fears, I had not not end rhymed, but they were, they felt like sonnets. And the last line of one sonnet would become the first line of the next sonnet, which is a sort of wonderful narrative bridge. And for a long time, I thought, well, this is the perfect form for this material, because it's sort of divided into manageable chunks. You know, I recognised right away, I had trouble reading it, I knew readers were going to have trouble reading it, I had trouble writing it. So I felt an obligation if I wanted them to read it to make it manageable. But then, during that time, life went on. For me, the life that went on was a life which for a while was was dominated by the aftermath issues. Our apartment was contaminated. Maybe the apartment buildings weren't destroyed. But all of the businesses were shut. All of the transportation was shot. The traffic was of the dump trucks and the and the workers on the site coming and going to get into our apartment complex to have the air tested, have it industrially cleaned, have FEMA come in, have the Red Cross come in, have the insurance adjuster come in, we had to go through a washing fence that people coming onto the site and leaving the site had to go through. So much has happened in the world. That's so painful ever since and so we're sort of used to war time scenes of devastation and death. But for those of us living in the States, then this was really our first direct experience of it. So The book grew. I didn't only want to be a book about my experiences bearing witness to that day. But I wanted to tell the story of what it was like to go on with your life under these circumstances. Sometime during that early aftermath, I learned that the small suburban town in New Jersey, where I was born and grew up, it's called Glen rock, New Jersey, lost 11 People that morning. It was a town of about 7000 people a mile in diameter. Everyone knew everyone else, directly or indirectly. And when I learned about those people, it opened up to me, the kind of to the kind of wider grief that we were all known at the time, we were just like automatons doing whatever was absolutely necessary and figuring out how to do it. And we were surrounded by people trying to find loved ones who had disappeared the car in or identifying body parts. When they were when they started removing debris from the site, they would load it on to dump trucks, and the dump trucks would be would go up to the closest docks, where barges could be moored, which was just north of battery park city scenario, which I walked through all the time. And they would dump the debris, the girders and all of the mess on these barges, they would hose it down, because they knew by then that the dust was toxic, they would put put a screen over it. And then tubs would hold those barges down the Hudson River to the landfill on Staten Island where they deposited it. So on one side of our apartment was ground zero, the site and on the river side was a procession of these barges. Anyway, I tried to finish the book for the 10th anniversary. And I had a version of it. And I don't think the writing was quite there yet, but I thought it was I did I thought it was I tried to place it, I sent it all over the place. And nobody wanted it. There is an aspect to to nobody wanting it was that we were we as a culture. We're trying to move on. We had blinkers on. It's a survival mechanism. But it's also one of the things that I'm going to detour a little bit that I've discovered since this book came out is that people here are are hungry, too, to tell their stories about it. Where I was how I learned who I knew. And every time I do readings. strangers come up to me and they share these very intimate details. And they're so happy to be able to share them. What I think I've discovered is that we never shared it. We live through it. But we didn't tell our stories. And storytelling is I think necessary for healing. Not everybody would agree with that. But telling stories is a fundamental to being human. It's what we do that other conscious animals don't do. When that process is cut short or frustrated. The material stays inside of you, but it feels like unresolved material in a way that And you you have and you had beforehand a means to get that out? What do you think? What do you feel for other people that maybe don't have that? How can they help themselves? Whenever I talk about it, I tell people to keep a record of their thoughts on your cell phone, orally, by writing, even if you don't think you're going to do anything with it. First of all, it becomes your record to yourself, of what's been going on inside of you. It could be as unemotional as you overhear a funny comment on the street, you write it down, you see something, a little thought and observation. A moment of joy comes to you. If you keep a record of it, however, is comfortable to you, however, fragmentary, that serves as a document, a point of reference for what your inner life is. And it helps you validate that it helps you respect it. And the writing life is partially a life of coming to respect that, to honour your impulses, to think that they're, if they're interesting to you, if you learn how to express them, they could be interesting to other people. And it's definitely a chain reaction. Because I go to literary readings. And the sign of a successful reading is that I want to write during the reading, as I did that first time, not knowing that that would be the litmus test. For me as a published writer, too, I'm always looking to feed myself. So after September 12, did not get published for the 10th anniversary. I set my sights on the 20th anniversary. And I also used that period, to really rethink the book. And the book that was published is the result of that rethinking, it's a lot more compressed, which is, of course, the nature of the best poetry. And it's structured to give a sort of total experience, there's a section of poems about New York and living on the river, written largely before 911 as a portrait of what that life was like. There's that the the title sequence about my I now call it my adventure that day, because I survived. The middle section of the book is a portrait of that town where I grew up. And with many portraits drawn from documentary sources, of the 11 people who died. Then there's a section of Lucy called aftermath poems, which begin the night of September 11. And they go forward, yours. And then the last section, because this is the present and it's called the present is about my rebuilt life in California, in the shadow of 911, because that will never go away. But but it's a rich, beautiful life. If we had not moved to California, which we did as a gesture for survival, because living near Ground Zero became impossible. If we had not moved to California and I had not learned to feel safe again. I had not learned that I could have a home where I could let myself go to these difficult places without getting lost in them. I could not live count my windows, as I'm looking right now, when I look away from you, at my backyard and see beautiful green plants, and the orange tree in bloom, if I hadn't experienced beauty, natural beauty, again, I really think that I probably would never finish this. So it's an important part of the book to have that present as well, isn't it to complete the story. That was the arc that felt right to me. And that was the arc that got finally accepted for publication. And the other thing that seems to resonate is that there is present, there is life after. So I feel like I'm the sort of, I hate to say it in a teeny, teeny way. I'm the poster child for someone who came through 911, as I used to call myself a near survivor, but that's something of an overstatement. Who took me a long time, but who figured out how to go on living. Because survivor guilt is, you know, there's been a lot written about it, and it is a real thing. One of the things that I know that you want me to talk about is what I'm doing next. This coming 911 For the first time, I will be in New York City, since we left it in 2004, to move to California. And I will be reading from this book for the first time in New York City, on the Brooklyn waterfront overlooking the harbour, which is how I flip. So I'm extremely excited about that. But even more possibly, the following weekend, the town library, the Glen rock public library, where I learned to read and where my mother worked, is celebrating its centennial. And they have asked me to be a featured reader and read from this book out of so much grief. How could I? How could I have lucked out to have this charmed. fulfilment of the circle that began when I fled that morning. And here I am, you know? Most poetry books, if they get any traction at all, among readers, after a year, that's gone. bookstores are not interested in giving you readings, because it's not a new book anymore. And I went into this thinking that the first year that this book came out, that would be it. But people are asking me to read next spring, sort of unheard of the book just won a silver medal in a big national contest. So that will, hopefully keep it in front of people. So I thought that I would be by now already be ready to move on to my next project. But in fact, I feel an obligation to do the best I can with taking this book out into the world. I wrote it for myself, and I wrote it for the record, but I see that it's doing some good in a difficult world. And that really means more to me than anything I have to say. Fabulous. And you're going to share some of it with us as well. Yes. So I thought long and hard about which poem to read. And I've decided to read a poem from the aftermath section, which I think touches directly on what your podcast is about, albeit in an indirect way, okay. The poem is dated May 2014. So that gives you an idea of how long the specific aftermath continued and it is in inspired by something that I saw in Cape May, New Jersey, which is on the main migration route from the birds that winter over in South America and Central America who breed in the Arctic, and they stop in Cape Bay, because they're exhausted, and they need to fuel up for the last part of the trip. This book is called this this poem, pardon me is called learning to write. Six months, I couldn't write, words lost their connection to the world meaning itself seemed impossible, a futile gesture. But it's hard to live without faith. Faith, that language can bridge our differences. Once I saw three species of warblers share a single oak Willow blackburnian, flame throated flitted about the sun licked top. Chestnut sided in the shade at the bottom, and the babe rested within the canopy, the tree offering a feast to exhausted migrants. Edward Hicks painted the peaceable kingdom over 60 times as if art could make it. So. If lions can lie down with lambs, and serpents lead a child to safety. Why can't we live and let live without killing each other? But they don't. neither can we? In May, I come upon a plump yellow warbler perched at eye level on a nest at the edge of a field. No cup. This nest is more of a stove pipe and upside down Top Hat four times this spring to judge from its height. A brown headed cowbird laid an egg in the yellow warblers nest, hoping the smaller bird will raise the gigantic chick has her own four times so far. The warbler added a new story on top of the old abandoning one clutch to lay another four times already she's accepted what she can't change and moved on. Accept what is and move on. Just as birds the world overdue and have done for millions of years, across coasts, along coasts, across oceans, up and down rivers, the Mississippi, the Delaware, my beloved Hudson, the Nile Tigris Euphrates, from one hemisphere to the other and back. Birds have found their way. Consider that bird sitting on that skyscraper of a nest. Her yellow breast, bright sunlight, her gaze, unwavering, unflinching, imagine everything she has done to get here. Perhaps we too, can find our way. Thank you, sir. What a fabulous choice. Thank you. Thank you, Claire. It's been absolutely amazing. speaking with you today, how can people connect with you? I'm on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. But the easiest simplest way is to go to my website, which is www Andrea Carter And on there is a contact button. And anybody who writes me I will definitely respond. I'm not Stephen King, I won't get 1000s or millions of things and I'm I'd like to hear from you because the response to the book has ended. reached my life in ways I never imagined. And that's what creativity is. The life the imagination, isn't it? Absolutely. Oh, perfect. Thank you so much, Andrea. That's been such a lovely, lovely chat. Thanks so much for listening to creativity found. If your podcast app has the facility, please leave a rating and review to help other people find us on Instagram and Facebook follow app to creativity found podcast and on Pinterest look for at creativity found. And finally, don't forget to check out creativity The website connecting adults who wants to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them tap into their creativity

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