Mary L. Gardner

Poet's Statement

A successful garden follows proper tilling of the soil and careful choice of time to plant. Since 1881, W. Atlee Burpee & Co. seed packets have carried the directive to sow when all danger of frost is past. As a child, I gardened with my father and we observed this rule. I have carried it into adulthood, although now I work in small beds installed at comfortable heights. This collection reflects the same notion. There are times in life for sowing and reaping, laying things to rest and daring to sow again.    

Where I call home has always been a significant factor in what inspires my thinking about nature, the human experience, and occasionally, events and phenomena in the wider world.  For the past fifteen years, I have lived in Skaneateles in the heart of Central New York and the Finger Lakes region, an area of singular natural and cultural beauty which provides a kind of palette for my writing.  I have been blessed with a large, interesting and good family, gifted friendship in every city where I have lived, and a resume of remarkable professional and volunteer work and learning opportunities. I try to live a centered spirituality. Writing poetry allows me to play off these perspectives. Excellence in craft continues as a worthy goal. Being a poet remains a mystery.

From the book:

First Tools

In the rural regularity of my childhood,
September meant new pencils, occasionally
a box of them with a sliding cover that fit
in a tin lunchbox.
                                                             It meant
the smell of wood - scraping thin shavings
that curled and broke into piles on the table,
shaping pencils to perfect points.
                                                             It meant
moving on to the next grade, more to learn,
a new desk, field trips to the woods, rolled-up
maps pulled down to eye level.
                                                           Even now,
September evokes a yearning to begin anew,
set aside things of little use, return to unread
books and untried intentions,  
sharpen my focus.
                                                      This morning,
I am at my desk with #2 pencils, a pile of them.
Seven inches, end to end, each one honed
to a point. I select one,
cradle it in the crook of my hand   
and set it to tablet, poised
for repair and further invention.

MARY GARDNER's poems have appeared in anthologies published by McMaster University and the Tower Poetry Society, Hamilton, Ontario; The Healing Muse, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY; The Pen Woman, NLAPW; and such venues as the Syracuse International Film Festival, the Syracuse Poster Project, and a chamber music work commissioned by the Skaneateles Festival. Her book, My Life Matters, now in its fifth printing, encourages others to write about their lives. She holds a Certificate in Poetry from the Downtown Writers Center, which is affiliated with the Arts Branch, Syracuse YMCA and with independent writing programs across the United States. She is an active member of the National League of American Pen Women, Central New York Branch. In an earlier career, she published twenty-two professional articles on human resources and management development and earned a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University.   

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