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About MPS

The Waterville Poets Club and the Dover-Foxcroft Poetry Circle joined in 1936 to form the Poetry Fellowship of Maine. In 1993, the name was changed to Maine Poets Society to reflect the organization's changing emphasis on a statewide network of writers sharing their work.

The society is affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS). Maine Poets Society membership fee includes NFSPS membership and allows our members the opportunity to participate in a variety of contests and events each year. For more information, visit NFSPS online at www.nfsps.com.

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President’s Message

In the UK, where I grew up, they have just celebrated Mother’s Day, and the two of my children who live there sent me cards and called me, which was lovely. On that side of the Atlantic Mothering Sunday (as it is still sometimes called there) is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent so the date changes from one year to the next. I only learned recently that the reason it is associated with Lent is that in earlier times it was a day when it was your mother church - the church in which you were baptised - who was visited and honoured. It coincided with the middle of Lent and was a day when you were allowed to have a respite from the fasting that was traditionally associated with Lent, and the Bible readings for the day all had associations with mothers.

Later it became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family. The practice became more common, and more associated with mothers rather than the church, in response to the popularity of the American Mother’s Day, and in fact is now generally called Mother’s Day in the UK these days. When I was a small child in the 1950s there was still a tradition of baking a cake called a Simnel Cake for the day, and even when my children were small in the 1980s churchgoing children were given spring flowers like violets and daffodils to give to their mothers.

You may wonder what all this has to do with poetry. In the last couple of years my poems have done a lot of mining of my childhood and the area in Yorkshire where I grew up. I suppose it is because I am getting older that my thoughts turn back to impressions that I gained and things I experienced as a child and adolescent. Sometimes this works well for me as an inspiration, although often I feel that I should be looking more to things around me.

It’s very hard to write poems about one’s parents and childhood without descending into sentimentality, and I have always tried to avoid that. But if we can manage as poets to look at those experiences of childhood and the family we grew up in with clarity and without sentimentality, those images can present themselves in a way that our everyday lives now do not. This applies whether you have had a happy childhood or not. Wordsworth in his Preface to the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads wrote that “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”, and if you read his poem “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” you will see him doing exactly that in the last stanza. You will note that he does not elucidate whether emotions that give rise to poems are positive or negative, although in this poem about daffodils I think they are obvious I think few of us have grown up without some experience of both those types of emotion, and both can be grist to the mill of our poetic imaginations.

I wish all of you a happy spring and summer, and hope to see as many of you as can make it to our next hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting in May.

Jenny Doughty

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