Becoming a poet just sort of happened to me. I dabbled in poetry, but my dream was to become a writer. A cousin of mine, Mary Harper Sowell, who was an accomplished poet invited me to a meeting of Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. “You need to know who the poets are,” she told me. I attended a meeting and I met some very fine poets from Arkansas, and as time went by, I met poets from other places, as well. I learned about poetry. I learned poems are not easy to write. They require a form or a pattern. They do not come into a poet’s mind as a finished product. They enter a poet’s mind one word, one main idea, one thought at a time.
Mary Harper Sowell, my cousin–the accomplished poet and teacher–has passed away. Results of her teaching can still be seen in my work as I continue to create poems using methods she taught. She encouraged beginning poets.
She taught me how to write a sonnet. The following is a sonnet that won a place in The Arkansas Poet Laureate Award given in honor of Arkansas Poet Laureate, Peggy Vining at Ozark Creative Writers’ Conference at Eureka Springs Arkansas in 2009.
Safeguarding Baby Owls
The eagles fly from dawn until quite late
above the Copper Mountain’s winter site–
a scene no painter tries to duplicate
of aspen trees beneath the snow of white.
The screeching owls, like helpless refugees
who fear the consequence of evil hands,
still build their nests inside the redwood trees.
So brave, the tall tree, like a sentry, stands.
If I could choose two types of trees to keep
from chainsaw’s teeth and jaws of mulch machine,
I’d save the aspens on the rocky steep,
and redwoods–place where screeching owls convene.
The eagles then could fly from Aspen Park
to redwoods guarding baby owls at dark.
c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols