Deepening the Poetic Experience

May 31, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s not often that you get to spend an evening listening to your favorite poet with the one you love. As Megan mentioned, we had the opportunity to listen to David Whyte speak at the Poetry & Medicine Conference last weekend in Durham. He was phenomenal! The way he presents poetry for both his own & others brings anyone listening into an immediate state of presence and contemplation. He is also able to draw out the big questions and use these questions as a mirror for the audience or the reader to examine themselves.

This is interesting to me, both as a poet and as a coach. I’ve always used images, situations, and events to frame and drive my poetry. The result of which is typically visually rich, yet while it may be introspective for me as the author, these poems rarely challenge the reader to delve into themselves and explore what is true for them. Ironically, my work as a coach is the exact opposite in that I abandon all attempts to explore my personal makeup to focus solely on my client in their journey toward deeper growth and understanding.

In having the opportunity to speak with David after his keynote, I asked him when he first began using powerful questions as a means to enter a poem. He pointed out to me that questions are a natural aspect of observance and the life of a poet is driven by observation and curiosity. It crossed my mind then that perhaps my poems are simply driven by different questions and rather than simply bring forth my own discovery in the poem, my new challenge is to call the reader forth into the greatness of the question for themselves as well.

Bookmark and Share


Moments of Inspiration

May 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last Friday night, Barton and I heard poet David Whyte, keynote speaker for Lifelines: Poetry for Our Patients, Our Communities, Ourselves Conference at Duke Medical Center. And of course, knowing us, it was not without adventure. As part of the OLR Roundtable Discussion Group, I had gone earlier in the morning to hear David Whyte speak to medical students in grand rounds at Duke Medical Center. Within an hour, I was literally transformed as I listened to David Whyte’s words.

Knowing that Barton would be at another conference in downtown Raleigh, and not expecting him to make the Friday evening talk, I asked David to sign a poem I had printed out (of course Barton has all his books on Audiobooks, and to be honest, we did not have one hardcopy).

After the morning talk, I had some time to myself and ended up at Duke Gardens, camera in hand. I found an off-beaten trail that lead to a quiet stream. Behind some rocks, I noticed a duck and her chicks swimming in a small pool, and sat on a rock at the edge. I was mesmerized by the fledglings, dipping their tiny heads just under the surface, the clacking of their small bills along the reeds at the edge of the pond, and their mother’s awareness as other strangers walked by. Eventually one chick scrambled out of the pond, and the mom totted the other two under her breast.

In that instant, and probably even before this moment, I realized I could not hear David Whyte without Barton. I just couldn’t. Period. I left the conference early, racing back to Raleigh in hopes to meet Barton. Now along the way, I tried to call him as Barton was on the buses back home (the buses cannot be relied on for any timely thing). Not only that, but most of the time, I have a 95% recall for Barton’s speech, which dramatically reduces down to 10% or less if we are both on cell phones and I am in the car. I won’t tell you how fast I was driving, and all I could think was I had to make it home before the 5pm Friday traffic began.

A divine moment- we arrived home at exactly the same time. Ten minutes and we were back out the door on the way. We were going to make it- together.

Inspiration isn’t just about a person, a place or event, it is about our interaction with it, and David Whyte mentions this interaction as a conversation. There is the conversation and interaction with our relationships, work and ourselves.  

There was no one else I had wanted to share this experience with, in the particular place, at this particular time. And when it all came together, alchemy ensued.

Sitting there next to Barton, we are both blown away by the meditative poems, powerful words, funny stories and thought-provoking messages. These were things we needed to hear- right now, at this particular time. One passage that stuck in my mind was “Start close in. Don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take…” How meaningful as both Barton and I are embarking on potential new work, individually and together. 

Afterwards, Barton asked him about powerful questions, which makes so much sense, but I had never thought of the direct connection. This was especially important to Barton as he begins his coaching work, of which powerful questions are essential to assist a person engaging in conversation with their lives.

The rest of the conference was powerful as well with a powerful discussion among a few writers, presentations by many incredible writers in the field, talk and reading with Jane Hirshfield accompanied by a symphony of thunder and lighting, Open Mic reading which lasted long into the evening, and Master Class with Jane Hirshfield where she talked about her revision process and work-shopped selected poems. There was much to take from the conference and look at integrating into my own writing, work and life. What an inspiring weekend!

var addthis_pub=”mcutter9″;
Bookmark and Share

A Whirlwind of Words

October 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, Work | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This past weekend, Barton and I traveled to Atlanta, GA where I spoke at the Annual Writing and Wellness Connections Conference. I was excited to be with other writers who practiced and facilitated writing specifically for health, healing and wellness. We enjoyed a night out with family and drove back early Sunday morning just in time to help set-up for the Annual North Raleigh Author Showcase, where we facilitated the Open Mic section of the event.

We are lucky to be in an area where there are so many writing networks and events, supporting the literary community and finding an opportunity to give other writers a voice. There’s not a week that goes by where we aren’t reading at an open mic, facilitating a workshop, working on a story or attending writer’s meeting. 

Barton has dipped back into writing poetry, while I enjoy writing poetry and longer non-fiction pieces as well. When we first met, Barton and I would email poetry and short stories back and forth as a part of our courting. Because of the time difference between Alabama and Arizona, I would receive e-mail with a poem in the morning and in the evening. Little did I know that Barton would spend an hour or more writing each email because he uses a head pointer, technology assistive device, to type.


Barton and Megan at The Globe Theatre.

Last year, we traveled to London and Scotland to attend a family wedding, Barton and I attended A MidSummer Night’s Dream at The Globe Theatre. We were right up against the stage, groundlings, and it was so incredible to see the best actors and actresses in theatre, with natural lighting, drawing the audience in. We could have reached out & touched them!  

The day before, we just had a few hours to ourselves, and we literally raced up cobble streets to get to The British Library to see the original works of some of the greatest literary writers in Europe including Shakespeare’s first manuscripts, pages from Leonardo Divinci’s Notebooks, letters from Jane Austin, drawings from Galileo and Isaac Newton, Captain Cook’s Diary, the Guttenberg Bible, Dante’s Divine Comedy- the list went on and on. From Barton’s view, he was able to see printed text and designs not only from above, but from the side view, inside the pages, as well. There was no one else that could have shared the delight and joy of looking at these delicate treasures. 

While we still write poems for each other, we find we are now united in bringing a voice and opportunities for others to express themselves, to tell their own stories. This November, we’ll be completing Ink In the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, to be published in 2010, and we are excited to be telling our story, inspiring others to live and love.

Bookmark and Share

The Power of Poetry

September 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Poetry | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When Barton and I met, I was living in Alabama while Barton was in Tucson, Arizona. For over six months, we would email poetry back and forth to each other, and because of the time zone, I would end up with two emails a day, one when I woke up in the morning, and one before I went to sleep in the evening. Poetry and flowers, no wonder I fell in love!

For our special days we celebrate together, we will write poetry to each other. Poetry always brings us back to center. There are times when we’ve dropped off, not writing poetry for a while because we are busy with other marketing projects. Let’s face it- it’s hard to write a poem on the computer when you’ve been on the computer all day. Or want to break free, writing outside, but are called back inside the office because other projects are due.

This last weekend, we traveled to Randolph, New Hampshire, and we had a moment to pull out my old trusty notebook and pen, drafting a poem. We sat on the back porch, overlooking the White Mountain Range, writing and rewriting the poem, Barton tweaking it ever so slightly each time.

I was fascinated with the space between words, the pace at which we wrote, and how each revision shaped and formed the poem into a new being each time.

Barton and I have been reading at local Open Mic readings in the Triangle area, facilitated by myself and Alice Osborn, another locally published author. Each time, we play around with how to read. I will go up with Barton and hold the poem for him to read. When we first started reading at opem mics, I would translate every word afterwards. Now, Barton will ask me not to translate, and we will offer to the audience that they may read his poem after the open mic if they do not understand. While someone asked us to have printed copies to read along with Barton, we noticed that people won’t listen to Barton, missing the connection between poet and listener. Each time, we experiment with something different.

It’s been such a joy to know that the person I love supports and encourages my writing, pushing me to write better with each new poem.


Bookmark and Share

Precious Moments

May 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Poetry | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

DSC_0030You might ask why I am posting a poem about my grandfather on a blog about Barton and I & our relationship. My grandfather never questioned the love between Barton and I or how we would manage in our lives. It’s always important to take the time to remember those who have been such an integral part in supporting us in our relationship. When I spoke with my father, he reminded me to cherish the moments with Barton and to cherish the moments of each day.  

Precious Moments
          ~In memory of my grandfather, Rev. Duncan Hunter

You know,
for many years I thought you were a stubborn man,
hard, chocking down your emotions.
Once you shared glimpses of yourself,
gentleness and compassion
spilled over.

After finding mom still and ashen blue,
I stood in the middle of the staircase
listening to your sobs over the newspaper clipping and Frosted cornflakes,
tears streaming down my face, you wiped yours away
for I had lost a mother and you had lost a daughter
and we shared this unspeakable bond.

Spring storms blew between our houses,
only one mile apart,
and when the lights would go out,
I would drive over with a flashlight-
just in time since the wet match could not have lit the tiny tapered wick.

 You would share glimpses of your past,
a comment here or there,
the march in Selma, the burning crosses, the danger you endured.
I heard stories from mom, but from you,
I would only get a hushed inkling
of the work and service that led to so many strides.
I searched for stories, grasping to know my family,
but to no avail,
they were lost in the wind.
I learned about your strength when I traveled to Australia,
a white girl in my face,
cussing me out about those filthy Abos.

Mom blessed our wedding from above,
You blessed our wedding from the pulpit,
and your blessing of love echoed
through the years.
Even recently,
adamant to venture through the nursing home halls
to hold Barton’s hands,
you blessed us with your words, bright eyes and smile.

 And you showed your love for grandmom,
sitting on the hospital bed beside her,
lightly patting her on the knee, on the face,
whispering the most endearing words. 

When Barton and I moved out of state,
knowing that opportunities lay in another place
you and I were both heart broken.
Though you gave me a good challenge
deciphering your consistent words
on the phone,
“I’m getting along today. How are you?”
Our definitions of fine varied from week to week.

You shared Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul,
a humbled life of service.
Even when the house was dark and cold, you would drive
five miles to the church,
your dedication to the work of God
surpassing all human expectations.
The box of food for those in need always in the
trunk of your car.

 We sat beside you in the pew last Easter,
golden crosses gleaming through white lilies.
This was the first time you took off your robes,|
You held my hand and tapped your watch:
his sermon was taking way too long.

 And Barton even caught you in the act
one night when I got up from dinner to refill a glass of water.
Barton watched you scoot one chicken finger
from the edge of your plate onto mine,
just so you wouldn’t have to eat it.
We laughed about the chicken finger incident
the entire way home. 

You were ninety-one and tired,
ready to go home
but not ready leave grandmom behind.
She will follow you
to the light of our precious God now that you have gone ahead,
preparing the way for her.

 Why, then, am I still sad:
I will miss our inside secrets,
the ones just between us,
a grandfather and his granddaughter,
and will remember to cherish the moments
of each day.

var addthis_pub=”mcutter9″;

Bookmark and Share

Observing the Sun

March 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

I am gimp like the shooting star
escaping the firmament of the mundane.
A rusted hammer waiting
to be taken up by a master carpenter
and reinstated;
wind lifting autumn-haggled leaves toward
ashen ceilings like hymns of youth in discordant reveille.

Awaiting Ezekiel’s chariot to be carried
as flesh, chrome and steel bound,
laughing crimson rays and
glinting determination to
teach a feather’s lingering stride.

Shackles slacken about earth’s mantle-
saffron sun creeping through the moss.
Pine’s fragrance abounds.


~S. Barton Cutter
© June 2002

var addthis_pub=”mcutter9″;
Bookmark and Share

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: