To My Secret Admirers

Kelly Rowe

When I received the invitation to post on the blog (my first), I’m ashamed to say that my initial reaction was one of horror. I quickly came to see that that reaction had something to do with why I write poetry. For me, poems are like little postcards thrust anonymously through the mail slots of people’s hearts. A little like valentines from a shy secret admirer. When I read a poem I really love, that touches me, I don’t want to know anything about the poet. I don’t want to hear him read. I don’t want to listen to her being interviewed on NPR. I want what I already have from the poem itself—to be understood by another human being—to feel connected to another person in a large, and sometimes frightening or lonely world.

At the same time, I was so happy and honored when my poem was accepted by NAR, and ultimately touched by the invitation to post on the blog. The details of my pedestrian life could hardly be of interest to anyone but me. I don’t teach writing, give readings, or belong to a writers group. I don’t run marathons, live in an exotic place, or perform pediatric surgery for my day job. I’m a housewife, and for many years my job was to help other people’s lives run smoothly.  During those years I still wrote poems when I could grab a moment. But unlike many writers, I wasn’t good at doing more than one thing well. By choice, I let the poems sit unrevised and unpublished while I made tutus, baked elaborate birthday cakes, and organized a girls’ math club.  Other than writing, it’s still the best job I can imagine, but not one that holds anyone’s attention at cocktail parties.

Now, with my daughter in college, I have time not only to write new poems, but to give the necessary attention to revising them. Like most writers, I don’t enjoy the work of sending them out for publication. But publishing lightens my bag of valentines. And perhaps less selfishly, when an editor chooses my poem, it gives me hope that the small world I write about, the world of housekeeping, of ordinary tasks and ordinary love for children, of regular old grief and loss, is a world that matters to all of us. If I work hard and write a good poem, a corner of that world is briefly illuminated and maybe, like me, some anonymous person, someone tired at the end of a dull day, will feel understood in their joy or sorrow.

Kelly Rowe received her MFA degree in English from the University of Iowa. After initially publishing work in journals like The Iowa Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest and the Seneca Review, she took a hiatus from publishing (though not from writing) for twenty years while she raised and homeschooled her daughter. She is now a full-time writer and housewife.

Graphic artist and painter Allen Forrest was born in Canada and bred in the U.S. He has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books. He is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University's Reed Magazine and his Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection. Forrest's expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh, creating emotion on canvas.