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A “poem-athon” produces a book: Pebbles in the Stream

Jana Dillon, interior art editor; Christina Nordstrom, book editor; Carolyn LeComte, cover design editor; Christie Lowrance, project editor

Since I was assigning the poems to writers who had agreed to be tapped for the 2020 Literary Arts “Poem-athon,” I gave the first commission to myself. In truth, I needed to see if this untested idea for a fund-raiser would actually work. I wrote the following poem for Todd Hermann who had requested it for his 18-year-old son Max, soon to graduate. In exchange, according to the terms of the Poem-athon, Todd made the first donation to the Sandwich Food Pantry.

More and more poems were created. Some were haiku, some sonnets, some non-rhyming, some ballads. The poems came in whatever form the writer decided was appropriate for responding to the specific purpose the donor indicated. Children’s authors Dean Coe and Jim Petipas, for example, wrote sweet, tender poems for children ─ “’Ode’ to be Ten” and “Flight Seven” ─  in response to requests to celebrate a child’s birthday. The donors who received poems began writing back, saying how much they loved their poems, how meaningful they were.

When the Poem-athon concluded in mid-May, it became clear we had the makings of a book with this amazing collection of poems. Writer Chris Nordstrom enthusiastically signed on as editor and we utilized the superb artistic talents of Jana Dillon who skillfully selected and arranged the interior art and Carolyn LeComte who designed the front and back cover. As project manager, I connected many hundreds of dots.

In Pebbles in the Stream we decided to name the writers and illustrators, but not the donors. This preserves privacy, but it also allows these poems to apply personally to whomever feels a connection with them. We four editors who worked over many weeks to put them together in this book were stirred and moved by every poem.  

FOR MAX  As you stand there now in the doorway of your life, hand on the solid frame, foot on the strong threshold, face turned into the sun, watching for your future coming down the road,  you’re ready, more than others. Even so, there are two things you do not know, son of ours, two lastingly important things:  Rivers you will cross,               Deep and shallow, Hills you will climb               Steep and gentle, Joy and pain you will have               Lasting and brief. But there will be one constant in your life: Our love for you, our hearts forever Will be with you as you cross the rivers And climb the hills and find joy and pain. Know this too, son of ours: You are perfection In pieces Waiting to be assembled.  By Christie Lowrance


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