A Cartography of Peace by Jean L. Connor

Sometimes the author is as fascinating as the book. In the case of the poetry book A Cartography of Peace, I find myself drawn to both poet and poems. Jean L. Connor writes poetry befitting of its title, filled with a peaceful calmness that is lacking in most of our days. Her prose focus on the beauty of a flower, the wisdom of age passed to younger generations, the grace of a winter’s snowfall. As I read each page, I felt my blood pressure come down from my day’s work, and I found myself taking deep breaths as the words restored peace to my soul.

Just as wonderful as her poetry is Jean L. Connor herself, a nearly 89-year-old first-time published author living in a retirement community in Vermont. I have the very great honor of sharing an interview with Ms. Connor, which was done by letter writing, an art I sorely miss in this age of email. Following are the questions and answers we shared. As cannot be done as easily with email, I’ll treasure this letter from a rare and poetic soul.

(e): How long have you been writing poetry?

JC: About 30 years. When I was in grade school a writer was a person who told stories. That would be fun! I had no thought of being a poet. By college years, an English literature major, I aspired to poetry, something wonderful, but somewhere out there, “far beyond”. Not for now… time for a career and “real work”. I deferred the pursuit of poetry until retirement from librarianship, my profession, a profession I found absorbing, worthwhile, satisfying. After retirement I began the pursuit of poetry in earnest, writing, taking workshops, etc. A new world opened.

(e): Do you have plans to publish any more books?

JC: I’m not ready to close a door. The important thing is not a book, but to keep writing, poem by poem…to encourage their coming, to welcome them. I like to think of Stanley Kunitz, his life, his work. Exemplary! So encouraging to an older writer. So humbling.

(e): What keeps you driven to work; to write?

JC: I write because there is joy in writing and discovery, too. There is also a desire to be faithful to a gift given me, no matter if small.

(e): What advice do you have for young poets and writers who dream of being published?

JC: Keep writing. Keep reading. Give the muse your best. Open your work to criticism by fellow writers through workshops, discussion groups. Become acquainted with poets, their work, in your city, state, region. Open your life to things of the spirit, be attentive to the beauty of the created world, savor the riches of silence – then sing!

Published by Passager Press. Look for the upcoming interview with Passager.

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