Welcome to Burning Bright, a weekly podcast presenting poetry and prose from Passager.
Jean Connor said she didn’t get serious about writing poetry until after she retired from a long career as a New York State librarian. She still stays in touch with people she met in various writing workshops.
“It’s a good way to keep going,” she says, “having friends who are writing and exchanging poetry and encouraging one another.”
Passager published Jean’s first book of poems, A Cartography of Peace, in 2006 when Jean was 86 years old. It’s 14 years later, and she’s still writing.
She writes a lot about the little details of nature, the small pleasures of life.
Here’s Jean Connor’s poem “After Vacationing in Maine.”
I have come home with two gray stones,
one flat, one round. I would hold
to their silence, their calm. I have come
home with two jars of blueberry jam
and one pint of wild blueberries
picked by a small boy on the barrens.
The sky wants to question
the sea and the sea wants to question
the sky, everything a question, except
for blueberries that only urge me
to eat. I have come home with one
postcard. I sent the other three.
Mountains. Ocean. Why should I think
of Yosemite after Maine? For no
reason, except there are landscapes
we cannot master. The rocks rise,
the waves break. No one asks,
“Is it Thursday? Is it Sunday?
Is it even today?” I have
come home with a small clay pot,
glazed black. Right for a few flowers,
no more. I turn the pot in the light.
It was to be a gift, but now it holds
the cove, the morning light on the water,
the hedges of roses the cry
of wind-borne gulls, the heath,
a taste of blueberries. So
small a thing and overflowing.
“After Vacationing in Maine” by Jean Connor.
Remember back when the world was open, and we could go on vacations? Let’s hope those days return soon.
One more from Jean. It’s a quiet, truly amazing poem: “Of Some Renown.”
For some time now, I have
lived anonymously. No one
appears to think it odd.
They think the old are,
well, what they seem. Yet
see that great egret
at the marsh’s edge, solitary,
still? Mere pretense
that stillness. His silence is
a lie. In his own pond he is
of some renown, a stalker,
a catcher of fish. Watch him.
Jean Connor’s poem “Of Some Renown.”
. . .
To buy Jean Connor’s book A Cartography of Peace or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to passagerbooks.com.
You can also download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts, and various other podcast apps.
And by the way, Jean’s celebrating her hundred and first birthday this month at Wake Robin Retirement community in Vermont. Happy birthday, Jean!