Her past prizes include Best of Issue for poetry in Horizons; anthology of SC Writers’ Workshop and as winner of USC’s Poetry Initiative of South Carolina’s Single Poem Contest.
She was also the illustrator for two of Carole William’s novels, By Wonders and By Wars and Brightness Remembered.
Thank you for joining us today, Betsy.
Thank you for inviting me. I’m pleased to be with you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Except for work and travel, I’ve lived a short-tethered life in Columbia, SC. I’ve called seven houses home and graduated from four schools, including USC, all within a five-mile radius of the hospital where I was born. If I don’t have a strong sense of place for my own life story, I should find a vocation other than writing.
How and when did you begin to write?
My father was a natural born story teller. In the 1920s he regaled (a favorite word of his) classmates with tales, passed-down or made-up, from a cafeteria stage at lunchtime. I grew up hearing those stories, desiring from an early age to create and share my own. I found my voice in poetry.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Write and write; then write some more. Patience and doggedness are your two best friends.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a collection of poetry. The overall theme is my son’s service to his country. Tucked in throughout are poems that offer a glimpse of individuals whose impact on his life is far reaching and long lasting. There are also poems that speak to the effect his service has had on me.
Would you share one of the poems with us?
Yes, of course. The opening piece is entitled “Words”:
I’ve glimpsed the folded, yellowed paper
tucked in your wallet – the one I curled
your fingers tight around when you deployed
Words to tease a smile, tap the roots
of remembrance, remind you who you are
loved beyond all telling
We carry them with us
the old and the young those with no legs at all
letting bad ones slip at times
Some abide with us
pebbles embedded in the soles of our shoes
silent lodgers whose names we’ve forgotten
Ours, the love of words, son
strung like lights in the Japanese maple
lines of brightness in the night