The language of the soulFive local writers nab spots in 2016 edition of ‘Lyrical Iowa’
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
Thanks to the Iowa Poetry Association and the creative minds of a few local writers, Henry County is well-represented in the 2016 edition of “Lyrical Iowa”.
Five writers of the Henry County area will have selections of their poetry featured in the statewide publication, “Lyrical Iowa”. Vicky Dovenspike, of Salem, Cleo McKim, of Mt. Pleasant, Jeffrey Meyer, of Mt. Pleasant, Jean Thomson, of Mt. Pleasant and Mary Zachmeyer, of Mt. Pleasant, are all local poets to have their poetry included in the 2016 publication.
The new volume contains 351 poems, chosen from 2,150 entries in the contest earlier this year. Entries came from all but 10 of Iowa’s 99 counties, sent by persons ranging in age from kindergartners to near-centenarians in over 100 cities and towns.
For Meyer, this year’s inclusion in “Lyrical Iowa” marks his third year being included in the publication, and he says he couldn’t be more thrilled to once again be chosen to appear alongside a plethora of other strong local writers.
“My poem is about someone who has great potential in life, but who is stricken with some kind of debilitating illness that is out of their control,” Meyer explains, saying he composed several drafts of the poem before completing the final version. “Poetry doesn’t constrain you to the rules of prose, and in many ways, you can express things in poetry that you can’t adequately express any other way, which is what I found with this poem.”
The Iowa Poetry Association, a not-for-profit organization stated its purpose is “to promote interest in and appreciation of poetry among Iowans” and to encourage and improve the art of self-expression through verse of varied genre. The association has nearly 400 members across the state, but membership is not required for having poetry included in the anthology.
According to Thomson, who has work chosen to be included in the 2016 publication for the first time, says she appreciated the inclusive nature of the publication, and says she hopes to be included again.
Her poem, entitled “Journey”, is her interpretation of the habits and behaviors of sandhill cranes, a bird she says she finds quite fascinating.
“I certainly wouldn’t call myself a poet despite being chosen to have this poem in Lyrical Iowa,” said Thomson, who is a former English teacher at Iowa Wesleyan, and says a former mentor of hers is credited as the one who encouraged her to start writing poetry purely for personal enjoyment. “When a subject seems to lend itself better to a poem rather than an essay for instance, I will jot my thoughts down in poetry form.”
Thomson says while she has known about “Lyrical Iowa” for many years, she says it wasn’t until her composition of “Journey” that she felt she had something that would be worthy of such a notable statewide publication.
“I think that a lot of people can get scared of poetry, and I can understand that,” she says. “But I think this publication is one way of creating a positive community of people who really care about language, have something to say, and took the time to artfully craft it into poetry, which I am very eager to read for myself.”
For information about the association, “Lyrical Iowa,” and the contest, visit the website www.iowapoetry.com.