Why We Write

A Mother’s Masterpiece: Review

I opened up my Jan/Feb issue of Poets and Writers while dipping my 100-calorie toast into my over-easy eggs this morning. I had been guiltily examining the cover since it came in the mail two days ago, knowing that it may be awhile before I could read it cover to cover. Teaching English at the Two Year College, a professional journal that had arrived on the same day as PW, rested nearby, inspiring a little more unread-subscription guilt.

Bird Feeder Image

Photo by Matt Peoples

I’ll just read a short article while I eat. Then I’ll go grade papers. I thought.

I flipped to page 29 in Poets and Writers to read “Why We Write,” one of my favorite columns for its direct relevance to my own writing life and quick, inspiring message.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotion captured by Mary Potter Kenyon’s piece about the ways her mother’s death spurred her to “use her God-given talents.”

When Potter Kenyon discovered some of her mother’s writings after her mother died , she realized that her mother’s deepest wish for her children was that they would use their talents. Potter Kenyon turned her mother’s empty house into a writing retreat and worked at the kitchen table every day for 12 weeks. She honored her mother and herself by rising creatively in the wake of her loss, rather than sinking into self-loathing.

Her story made me conceptualize what it means to see oneself through a loving mother’s eyes, rather than one’s own self-critical, goggles of uncertainty.She made me think hard about being more gentle on myself and encouraging others to do the same.

A Mother’s Masterpiece inspired big teardrops to fall on my breakfast plate. It also inspired me to run up to my writing room and put these words on the page.

Thanks, Mary. I needed that reminder of why I must write.

About npiasecki

Instructor of Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Colorado Denver, specializing in 21st century skills, research, and creative nonfiction. Director of the Denver Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project's professional network for K through College educators.
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