Today I am grateful for brief yet meaningful encounters.
Three years ago, I ordered a signed copy of Pat Schneider’s Another River: New and Collected Poems (2005) via her website. When it arrived, I was surprised to find a note from Pat with a gift copy of her chapbook, The Patience of Ordinary Things (2003).
I fell in love with the title poem, and was honored when Pat gave me permission to share it here. Though we only exchanged a few emails, I was touched by her kindness and generosity, totally in awe of the 83-year-old poet, author, playwright, teacher, and Founder/Director of Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA).
At the time, Pat’s poetry was new to me, and I knew little about her early years in Missouri, where, as the child of a single mother, she lived in tenements and an orphanage until she received a scholarship to attend college. “Those early experiences deeply influenced her writing and fueled her passion for those who have been denied voice through poverty and other misfortunes.”
Recently, while looking for more poems to share for Poetry Friday, I thought again about Pat and visited her website, where I was saddened to learn of her passing in August 2020. I read many tributes, listened to her reading her poems, and watched several interviews, awestruck not only by her professional accomplishments, but her abiding faith in human potential and creative genius, as she encouraged all to find and amplify their authentic voices.
I love hearing hers.
THE MOON. TEN TIMES by Pat Schneider 1. Round cool face of forever float free for me 2. Saucer without a teacup without the tyranny of of tea 3. Owl eye without a pupil blind to contradiction 4. My white balloon has lost its string and me 5. Round, open mouth of the goddess of light 6. The night sky's exclamation: Oh! 7. Puppeteer of tides rock the shore of the world 8. Bright frisbee the dog star lost in the night 9. Perfect pearl crown of cornfields and night watchmen's hair 10. Bellybutton of God ~ from The Patience of Ordinary Things (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2003)
The day after I learned about Pat, I discovered that Peter, her dear husband of 63 years, had died of COVID on December 29, 2020 (he was 89). He had been in a care facility for the last year of his life, struggling with dementia.
Pat and Peter met at seminary school in California. He was not yet a poet, but wrote a poem to impress Pat during their courtship. After they married in 1957, they moved to Massachusetts, where they began their ministry, most notably at Wesley United Methodist Church in Amherst. Together, “they founded two residential communities connected to the church, made partnerships with other communities in working toward racial justice, and engaged in anti-poverty efforts across the region.”
After leaving the ministry in 1980, Peter became more involved with AWA, and helped to create Amherst Writers & Artists Institute, an outreach program for women and children in public housing.
And he began writing poetry in earnest, publishing his first book, Little Fence, in 2006. His poignant, heart wrenching poem about aging and memory loss, “Lost in Plain Sight,” is featured at Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry as well as at The Poetry Foundation website.
Now, both have been called home, where they are together again — two people well loved, two lives well lived, united in purpose to foster good writing, nurture the human family and elevate the worth of every person they met with compassion, friendship, guidance, fellowship, and grace.
About, Among Other Things, God by Pat Schneider Come. The primrose blooms in the garden. The mourning dove calls in the sycamore tree. Rain on the sill of the window, sounds of every kind of weather are sweet in this old house. Come. In the pantry, jars of beans, lentils, sunflower seeds. Sesame. Jars of preserves, small cans of spices stand in rows. It is here. A woman stands in the doorway and calls. Her apron bleached from washings and from hanging in the sun. Behind her, through the doorway, the house is dark and cool, and the word that she calls into the late afternoon, into the shadows gathering under the lilacs, into the long, long shadow of the sycamore tree is come. Come home. ~ from Another River: New and Selected Poems (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005)
Enjoy this short interview with Pat and Peter from early 2020. Peter reads his poem, “Lost in Plain Sight,” and they talk about how they first met.
Here is Pat reading “The Patience of Ordinary Things.” The very last line — “And what is more generous than a window?” — is etched on her gravestone.
♥️ Visit Pat Schneider’s Official Website.
♥️ Click here to read Peter Schneider’s poem, “Lost in Plain Sight.”
♥️ Click here to read my post featuring “The Patience of Ordinary Things.”
♥️ Click here to learn more about Amherst Writers & Artists, an international community of writing workshop leaders.
The lovely and talented Ruth Hersey is hosting the Roundup at There’s no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. As always, stay safe, be well, wear your mask, and have a good weekend.
Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.