Today, I am delighted to introduce poet and author, Abbie Taylor, to discuss her favourite poems and poetry in general.
Which of your own poems is your favourite?
“The Bedroom” is one of those red herring poems that makes you think it’s about one thing, then turns out to be about another. It illustrates how much my late husband Bill depended on me after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side. It’s my favorite because even today, almost ten years after his passing, I’m amazed that I was able to meet his needs for six years after his strokes, despite my limited vision. Here’s the poem:
At three in the morning,
I’m mildly aroused
by the gentle touch of his hand.
He only has one good arm and leg
but still knows how to please me.
As he strokes me,
and I breathe the scent of his sweat,
I purr with anticipation.
The mood is shattered
when he whispers, “I need to pee.”
What inspired you to write this particular poem?
Every night, after I brought Bill home from the skilled nursing facility, where he recuperated after his strokes, he woke me at least once, sometimes more than once, during the night, because he needed assistance to sit on the side of the bed and use a urinal. He was never demanding during this time. He gently woke me by rubbing my back and shoulders. Once I was fully awake, he said, I need to pee.” After he heard me read the poem during a public event, when he woke me, he would say, “What does your poem say I have to do?” Eventually, he was able to use the urinal in bed without sitting up first. So, all I had to do was get up and empty the urinal periodically, which made life a lot easier.
What are your plans for your poetry going forward?
I don’t have any definite plans. I’ve put together several collections but haven’t had much time to do anything with them. I imagine I’ll eventually publish them.
What is your favourite poem?
I’m assuming you want to know about my favorite poem by another author. Well, that would be “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins. Here it is, along with a link to a video of him reading it.
BY BILLY COLLINS
The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
Why do you like this poem?
In a humorous way, it emphasizes the idea that our mothers do so much for us but we feel we don’t do enough for them.
About Abbie Taylor
Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where, for six years, she cared for her totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after they were married. Before that, she worked for fifteen years as a music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities. During that time, she also facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board to a state trust fund providing adaptive equipment to blind and visually impaired children and adults.
Contact Abbie Taylor
My review of The Red Dress by Abbie Taylor
The Red Dress is a lovely novel about a woman, Eve Sawyer, who has become a best selling author and has a devoted husband and three children, but who has never been able to move on from an unfortunate incident in her younger years when, in a fit of embarrassed irritation, she gave away the red dress that her mother had made for her to wear to her prom. Although Eve was goaded by her selfish roommate, Charlene, into giving her the dress, her mother has never forgiven her for this transgression and it has impacted heavily on their relationship. Her mother is now suffering from dementia and is being cared for in a home for the elderly, but she still remembers that Eve gave away this dress and holds it against Eve.
Eve wore the dress to her prom and she associated the dress with bad memories as her date had disappeared with her best friend, Adele, and she had found them in a compromising position in the back of his father’s car. Eve cuts Adele out of her life and has not contacted her in many years, even though Adele had returned to their home town to raise her son, conceived on the night of the prom.
The story starts with Eve receiving a Facebook request to connect with her old roommate, Charlene. She accepts the request, although she had doubts because she didn’t like Charlene. Before long, her daughter, Ashley, is in touch with Charlene’s daughter, Brenda, and the situation is irreversible. Eve is having her own problems with overwork and issues with her older daughter, Julie, who feels neglected as a result. Her husband is also irritated with her because he feels she favours their younger daughter and son and is harsh with Julie.
This is a story that tackles the themes of working mothers, unresolved grudges and situations from the past, raising teenage children, forgiveness, terminal illness, and death. The author does a good job of sharing Eve’s frustration at her mother and older daughter, irritation at Charlene for the trouble she has caused her, and hurt at Adele’s betrayal of their friendship.
Eve has to confront her negative emotions to resolve these lingering troublesome relationship issues from her past and move on with her future.
I enjoyed the character of Eve and found her to be realistic and relatable. Her situation vividly establishes the difficulties that can result from unsettled emotional problems from the past and juggling work and motherhood.
I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to readers of family dramas.
What Amazon says
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again. Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.
Purchase The Red Dress
My review of How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver (Poetry)
How to Build a Better Mousetrap is a memorable book of poetry which covers two distinct time periods in the author’s life.
Part 1: On Being a Family Caregiver, revolves around the poet’s role as caregiver to her husband following his having two strokes, a year apart, and becoming partially paralysed.
The second section section of the book comprises of Part 2: Recollections, Part 3: Reflections and Part 4: In the End which describes through the medium of freestyle poetry, the various states of the poet’s life from her early childhood through to her old age. There is little mention throughout the book of the author’s visual impairment, but I am aware of it as I have previously read an anthology, Understanding edited by Stevie Turner, that disclosed this information.
The poetry in this book is compelling and quite fascinating in its honesty as the poet ventures to express feelings and emotions that many people might seek to hide. It is refreshing to read expressions of helplessness and even the occasional anger and resentment towards a set of circumstances that have so drastically and unexpectedly impacted on the poet’s life. These emotions are overwhelmed by the poet’s clear devotion and love for her partner.
These verses from three different poems in this collection illustrate this internal conflict:
“In the beginning, you knew all about me
which buttons to push,
how to hook me up,
install programs, fix problems.
Now, you hesitate,
push the wrong buttons.
When I don’t give you the desired response,
you beat my keyboard, proclaim I don’t work.”
From Before and After
“I open my eyes,
gaze upon his sweet sleeping face,
long to hold, kiss him,
caress his hair, his cheek.”
“I’ll never tell you you’re stupid
when you forget something or don’t understand.
I’ll never tell you you’re lazy
when you sit at the kitchen table in your wheelchair
while I fix dinner, clean up.
I’ll never tell you you’re a baby
when I must do most things for you.”
from Things I’ll Never Tell You
What Amazon says
In January of 2006, Abbie Johnson Taylors husband suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. After months of therapy in a nursing facility, he returned home in September of that year. Although he still had little use of his left arm and leg, it was hoped that through outpatient therapy, he would eventually walk again. In January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke that wasnt as severe, but it was enough to impact his recovery. In August of that year, his therapy was discontinued because he showed no progress. He has never walked since.
The first five poems tell the story of how Taylor found her husband when he suffered his first stroke, detail events in the first few months afterward, and describe Taylor and her husbands reactions. The rest of the poems in the first part were inspired by Taylors experiences while caring for her husband. Covering such topics as dressing, feeding, toileting, their relationship, and his computer, they often provide a humorous outlook. Some poems are from the husbands point of view. Poems in the next two parts cover childhood memories and other topics. The last section of poems was inspired by Taylors fifteen years of experience as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before marrying her husband.
Purchase How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.
The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.
Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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