2018-04-12 / Life in Leelanau

Free verse and rhyme, it’s poetry time

By Jen Murphy
Of The Enterprise staff


A LOVER of words, poet Judy Egeler writes many of her poems about the different seasons. Her first poem, written at age 12, was published in the Enterprise. A LOVER of words, poet Judy Egeler writes many of her poems about the different seasons. Her first poem, written at age 12, was published in the Enterprise. A blank page can be a wordsmith’s wonderland. And poetry can fill a special place in that white space.

Often a tricky form of literature, a poem can string words together so vividly that it paints a portrait in words.

Two of these literary artists call Leelanau County home.

Judy Egeler of Leland has worked at her craft for decades. In fact, her first poem was published in the Enterprise when she was 12 years old.

“I got started at an early age,” Egeler said. “I liked words. My mother was an English teacher and she taught me to like words.”

Besides the words themselves, she said she appreciates the way poetry expresses ideas in a way that is different from other forms of literature.


INSPIRED BY NATURE. Cedar resident Kenneth Gomez enjoys writing poems about interesting history and landscapes around Leelanau County. INSPIRED BY NATURE. Cedar resident Kenneth Gomez enjoys writing poems about interesting history and landscapes around Leelanau County. “People who write poetry have a fairly good understanding of language and words,” she said. “I think that’s true in any language. You have to understand it.

“It expresses thoughts, feelings and circumstances in a different sort of way. Everybody should read poetry because it expresses feelings in a really different way than just a conversation or reading in a newspaper article. It gives you plenty of room for thought when you read it.”

One of her favorite poets is Robert Louis Stevenson. Egeler’s mother and grandmother used to read Stevenson’s poems to her as a child, most likely paving the way for a lifetime love affair with the art form.

While most of Egeler’s poems rhyme, and a majority of them focus on different seasons of the year, she rarely sits down to write “poetry on-demand,” as she calls it.

“I always figure it’s a God-given gift and when He wants me to write something, He puts it in my mind,” she said.

And this doesn’t happen every day.

Sometimes she will go days, or weeks, without putting a word on paper.

“It depends on what mood strikes me,” she said, “but when it strikes me, it usually doesn’t take long.”

Fellow poet Kenneth Gomez of Cedar said he draws his inspiration from a source outside of himself as well.

“Observation of nature is my biggest source of inspiration,” Gomez said. “I’m inspired to write for my wife, Lisa, as she has encouraged me and appreciates the things I write for her. My favorite topics include the many interesting things I find around Leelanau County and Port Oneida such as history and landscape.”

Originally a musician, Gomez has published 12 songs with verse lyrics. He has explored the world of poetry more recently.

In taking this step, Gomez said he finds that poetry allows him to express himself in a way that uses a richer vocabulary and wider topics.

Unlike Egeler, who uses a more structured, rhyming approach in most of her work, Gomez prefers a freer approach.

“My style isn’t necessarily structured in form; I prefer to write it as I sense it or feel it,” he said. “A more formal poet would be using a brush on an oil painting, whereas I am more like a folk artist with a jackknife.”

And Gomez draws satisfaction through this approach, and encourages anyone to take up a pen and write a poem.

“Poetry is fun,” he said. “Take up a pen and write a poem. There’s a lot of satisfaction in a personal way. I don’t feel that there is any such thing as a bad poem. It’s more about how the person who wrote it feels about it.”

As a celebration of National Poetry Month, Leelanau Township and Leland Township libraries are geared up for April’s month of rhymes and verse as well.

Leelanau Township Library will host three poetry readings and an open mic night. Director Nellie Danke said she expects the events to be well-attended and especially appreciates the “adaptability” poetry offers to readers.

“I think poetry is a form that’s very adaptable to different ages,” Danke said. “From just silly rhymes to help children play with language build confidence, to kids who think writing is so hard and reading is so difficult, because poetry is fun. With adults, poetry is wonderful because it can be read on so many levels.”

Both libraries are hosting a book reading of “The Lake Michigan Mermaid” by Michigan authors Anne Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster.

Mark Morton, Leland Township Library director, said both the illustrations and words evoke images for readers.

“Many of the poems by Anne Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster speak to something all of us in Leelanau County know so well: Lake Michigan,” Morton said. “The words create beautiful pictures in our minds that go beyond their simple meaning and speak to us on various levels, and in many ways that is what poetry is all about.”

‘Crystal River Moonlight Bridge’

Walking along the Crystal River tonight
I see on the river a path of moonlight
From shore to shore this stretch of light glows
A moonlight bridge across the river’s flow
I wish I could step out on it
Stroll on over to the other side
Or we could meet somewhere in the middle
And dance on the Crystal tonight
Dancing on the Crystal River tonight
On a bridge of moonlight
©2018 by Kenneth L. Gomez

Pumped for poetry?

Plan to attend one of these events celebrating National Poetry Month:

Storytime: Let’s Rhyme Leland Township Library Friday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Open Mic Night Leelanau Township Library Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m.

The Lake Michigan Mermaid Leelanau Township Library Friday, April 20 at 7 p.m.

The Lake Michigan Mermaid Book Talk with Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster Leland Township Library Saturday, April 21 at 11:30 a.m.

Terry Blackhawk Poetry Reading Leelanau Township Library Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

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