My paternal grandmother wrote a lot of poetry in her twenties, some of which was published in a poetry column in her local newspaper and some of which she read on a local radio program. After she passed away in 1991, my dad compiled her published poetry into a little booklet which he printed and gave to her family and friends.
Recently I read this booklet again, and it occurred to me that if my grandmother were still around, she probably would be sharing her poems online. After discussing the idea with the rest of her descendants, I set up her blog:
Every time I reread these poems, I am struck by how, simultaneously, they set you right into a vivid, fleeting moment yet describe experiences that are just the same now as they were seventy years ago. I hope that readers today will find these poems still very relevant and inspiring.
It’s a funny feeling, though, arranging a blog for someone who never saw a blog or any sort of Website and who regarded computers as a somewhat suspect newfangled thing. I chose a background color and clip art that remind me of her personal style, and I put them into a WordPress theme that is relatively plain because all the fancier ones just looked jarring. I tried to use the sidebar widgets she would think were neat rather than unseemly. It’s so strange–and yet it gives Janmother her own space, like her own little magazine with pretty borders, which is something she never had in the newspaper. I think she would like that.
Another oddity of this project is that the person whose work I’m publishing is not, exactly, the Janmother I knew. The newest of the poems I’m going to publish was written 29 years before I was born! My first idea for the blog background was to use a digital photo of one of her gorgeous afghans–but the poetry-writing Janette was an earlier version of the person who became my crocheting Janmother. I’ve written about the Janmother I knew and my growing perspective on her life. The poems, all of them, were written when she was younger than I am now. So I’m trying to imagine that younger Janette, daydreaming with her hands in the dishwater, and what she would have done with the opportunity to create pages for the whole world to read.
I bet that if the young Janette were alive right now and browsing the Web, she’d be appreciating Works-for-Me Wednesday for the wealth of homemaking tips and the sense of connection with other women that it brings to us each week. Take a look!