Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writing a place as a poem

Several months ago, I offered to pen a dedication poem for a park in my neighborhood, the Billard Commemorative Park and Veteran’s Memorial developed by the Mandarin Community Club. Mandarin reminds me a lot of my hometown in South Carolina, so this place spoke to me in a very personal way. The Billard property was a family homestead for many years, but the home itself was deemed unsalvageable.

I rode by the property several times—enough to probably make neighbors in the oak tree lined community think I was casing somebody’s home. One of the first impressions I had of Mandarin is an adjective. Sturdy. The community is family oriented, yet there is diversity in abundance. When I first moved here, I wrote about taking my cleaning to a fellow from Bulgaria (his wife had a CD of lively wedding music playing) and then ordering a sandwich from a gentlemen from India who owns a deli here. I’ve covered stories for freelance clients about refugees from dozens of countries who come to the U.S. legally to escape persecution. My life is enriched immeasurably by living here.

The community manifests universal hopes—regardless of our country of origin, we all want safety, education and health for our children. We want a community that we feel part of. The community has anchored Northeast Florida residents for many years. And with my poem I hoped to put the listener in touch with what that means. The place became the poem.

It wasn’t hard to love Mandarin. It was very hard to express that in a poem that wouldn’t be trashed by academics. I hope I succeeded. I’ll know tomorrow, after reading it during the dedication.

The public is invited to the Billard Park and Veterans Memorial dedication ceremony Wednesday, November 14, at 4 p.m. at the park located at 11641 Brady Road in Jacksonville.


Pat said...

YOur poem was perfect. Thanks.

Kay Day said...

Pat, thank you so much. It was an honor to be part of this.--kay