I am so excited to have WOW! author, Linda Neas with me today at the blog!
In February 2008, she self-published her first complete book of poems, Winter of the Soul. She recently published, Gogo’s Dream: Discovering Swaziland, a collection of poems dedicated to those who work to aid the peoples of Swaziland. Currently, she is working on several children’s books.
Ms. Neas lives in an enchanted cottage in western Massachusetts with her Beloved.
You can find Linda online at her blog, Words From the Heart.
From A Children’s Garden of Verses to Gogo’s Dream
By Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
When I was about five years old, I received a copy of A Children’s Garden of Verse with illustrations by Eloise Wilkin. I fell in love. Not only did I immediately connect with the poems, but the pictures took me to an idyllic world where children could run free through green fields, stopping to make daisy chain halos as mothers watched at a distance.
My life was anything but idyllic. I grew up in the brick and macadam of the city. While I was blessed with the ocean, only three blocks from the apartment we lived in, the streets were my playground.
This book was the first of my poetry collection. My mother had recited poems to me like other mothers read bedtime stories. I was well versed in the poems of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, as well as, Emily Dickinson and Kaye Starbird by the time I entered first grade.
I wrote my first real poem the year after my youngest brother was born. I pictured him immortalized by Wilkin in a new updated version of A Children’s Garden of Verse. Under his portrait would be my poem, “My baby brother’s name is Matty/And he is such a little fatty./When it is time to go to bed,/He laughs and laughs and shakes his head.”
The local librarian liked it and entered the poem into the Hornbook Club children’s contest. It didn’t win, but between my mother’s cheering on my efforts to live up to my heritage (My grandmother’s name was Riordan, which in Gaelic means, “The King’s Bard or Poet,”)and the librarian telling me that I was a “real” poet, I began my journey as a poet and writer.
It is important to remember, if one wants to be a writer of any genre, that one must read, constantly. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Reading poetry since the age of five and writing it since the age of eleven has brought me to where I am today.
Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered was a work of love for a country and a people I have yet to meet. My relationship with them is purely virtual; however, I feel kinship with them in a way that transcends reality. When I see a Gogo smile, surrounded by her grandchildren, I feel her joy, I understand her fears for her children and grandchildren. I have lived with the nightmare of poverty and disease in my own life. It is through these connections that I found the fuel to write Gogo’s Dream.
Fifty something years ago, I never would have thought, as I held my children’s book in my hand, that the dream I had of being a published poet would come true. But, dreams do come true. The book is real. It is my dream now that the book with make the Gogo’s Dreams possible.
Thank you, Linda! Here is a sample from Gogo's Dream:
Gogo’s Dream by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2010
For the Gogos (Grandmothers) of Swaziland
African sun burns deep into your soul
As red-clay dust envelops your thoughts.
In the distance, the sound of a child
Crying, sobbing, wrenches your gut.
You kneel beside a Gogo,
Who exists only for her grandchildren.
Eighteen bodies crowd around -
Their faces belie their ages.
Babies who have seen too much -
Old before their time, yet,
Once smiles rise from the depths
Of their longing – they are young, again.
African moon pours silence over you
As night sings songs of sleep.
Gogo’s hut shines from within.
You stand outside wondering -
Perhaps it is a dream...
Buy it at Amazon