It was 1994. I went to visit my friend, Arlyce.
While there I quoted her one of my poems, I Have These Holes.
“You have to do something with this,” Arlyce said.
Knowing my husband Mike was an artist she said, “Why don’t you take some of your poetry and put it with Mike’s art?”
A couple weeks later, Mike and I stood in a print shop beaming, as we watched our first piece of poetry art come out of the printer.
I showed the finished pieces to friends who liked them. I took some to college where I was a returning student. I’d bring them there and sometimes bring home money.
One instructor asked if I’d share my poetry at her home. And “poetry parties” were born. I created invitations she would mail out to her friends.
I would share stories of my life, intermingled with my poetry. People connected and then would purchase the pieces.
At another poetry party, five women bought my piece, I’d Marry You Again. At the bottom of the piece was a drawing of two people holding hands. It was Mike and I. He held my hand while drawing with his other hand.
The first company
“I’m going to show this to my boss,” Nancy said.
Her boss was the owner and creator of Creative Calligraphy.
“That’s fine,” I answered, though inwardly I had already decided I didn’t want to work for anyone.
I have to smile when I think about how God stretched me. Creative Calligraphy became the first company interested in my work. I was paid a monthly amount for the use of my poetry. Later it reverted to royalties.
A turning point
One fall my friend Jenny asked me, “Are you going to be in the craft show? There will be so many people there because of Pumpkin Fest.”
“I don’t have the money,” I answered.
“You have to be in it,” Jenny insisted. “I’ll pay your fee.”
Packing my rubbermaid tubs with framed and unframed pieces, I did the two day show. Selling over $350.00 worth of poetry. Little did I know where it would lead.
A couple of days later I received a letter through the mail.
You don’t know me, my name is John Larson. My mother-in-law recently saw your work at a craft show in Sycamore. She was so impressed she told me I had to see it. I was wondering if you’d be open to a meeting with me.
John Larson owned a gift company that produced poetry on plaques. He wanted to pay me for the use of my poetry. Again my poetry was in more stores all over the place.
And John introduced me to a second company. A company I have been with for 13 years and counting. And still another company contacted me just two years ago. No longer am I afraid. Experience has been a good teacher.
A phone call
I once wrote a paper entitled, To Publish or not to Publish: A Poet’s Dilemma.
The majority of sources stated people could not make money writing poetry. In my stubbornness, I decided to prove them wrong.
But on my way to doing that I discovered what matters. Touching people with my words.
The phone rang some years back. A man’s voice began,
“Is this Anne Peterson? I heard you might know where I could get a copy of the poem,
I Have These Holes.
“Where did you see the poem?” I asked.
“It was in a funeral home,” he said quietly.
“Who did you lose?” I had to ask.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I told him. “When did you lose him, may I ask?”
I caught my breath when I heard, “Two days ago. You see I read your poem and can’t get it out of my mind.”
Our words can touch others. But in order to do that, we have to share them. We have to take a risk.
What risk are you willing to take?