Seeds of Hope By inSpire with Jan Leree

Jan Leree Whidden
We asked Jan Leree about her background and about how she developed a passion for poetry.

Editor - Jan, what was it like growing up for you? When did you first realize that you cared about photography and poetry, or verse?

Jan - I grew up in a Christian home, the youngest child of three. Back in the late 1950's early 1960's life was pretty easy and simple. My interest in poetry started in high school, as a student to Mr. Mauldin, at Forest Lake Academy. My interest in photography did not begin until 2011. I began to take photos and write verses that went with the photos in 2011. It started out as a way to express some of my own personal grief that I was going through. As I shared my photos and poems, several people told me how encouraged they were from me sharing what I was going through in this way.

Editor - Poetry seems to have fallen on hard times. We don't typically see poems or prose in religous or secular magazines. I haven't heard poetry recited in church within the last 10-15 years. Yet, there are still people like yourself who love it and write it. Do you have any thoughts on why our culture doesn't seem to relish poetry?

JanI think the reason is mostly lack of exposure. When people actually read poetry, they are usually touched by it, men, women, children. Poetry can say to someone's heart what cannot be said with instruction, story, or correction.

Editor - You mentioned that grief was a trigger for you and that writing poetry actually became therapeutic. Would you be willing to share an example with us of some verse you wrote as a result of something that was happening in your life?

Jan - Yes here are some lines:

Over and over and over
My thoughts intertwine …
They wrap around each other in twists and tangle,
Braided bonds-not rehearsed, yet with prongs…

My beauty is to share my joys, sorrow, grief…
To share from within-
Not to linger in self-pity
But to meander to the meadows
Where sorrow can weep…
Where all the pain can seep, from me…
To the earth beneath my feet…

The pain becomes water to the ground.
The pain with its tears
Sprinkles dew to the clay…
Soul wrenching moans,
…Without a sound.
The pain fertilizes the seeds,
that I didn’t know were planted
The pain reaps;
Out of pains visceral contractions,
joy is born…
In blossoms
From the meadowed grief
that was once as death under my feet.

Editor - That's powerful! You're lines are beautifully written!

Jan - One thing I do to try and disperse some of my own grief is I purchase packets of garden seeds that I send with a greeting card message.
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Keep in mind that I loved someone who devasted me through emotional abuse. So, I take the seed packets of abuser's favorite flowers--the same ones we used to plant together and mail to others who were grieving, to share with people who are grieving now. This is how I stay focused on the beauty of life, instead of the bitterness I feel in my heart and soul. With the seeds I include a greeting card message that I make. The verse on the card reads something like this:

"We are grafted to the vine through the tares and thorns of our shared grief ...
We are thrust through the marrow, the veins of pain ...
As we hold each other ...
Broken down, on our knees.
We are pulled through the blossom ...
Fed on the dew,
of joy's bursting release..."

Editor - What an amazing way to not only bless others, but to bless your own heart as well. Thank you for sharing with us!

View Jan's Word Art online

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