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January - March 2012     VOLUME 16 ISSUE 1
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Vivian Shipley

In Their Own Words
Festival of Reading

“I write poems to help my heart come to terms with what my mind can understand but my heart can’t accept. By creating a form in order to contain emotion I put on paper, I gain control of feelings in order to help myself heal. Like the poem about my father’s grave, my final poem, “Mango Season in Cambodia,” is about healing and how the acceptance of loss, of grief can ultimately teach us to savor life in a deeper way. I wrote this poem in order to accept the death of my mother—not a tragic one like the continued deaths of our young soldiers—she was 89 but her death was devastating to me. I utilized the metaphor of a mango to create a fictional situation in Cambodia. It won the 2007 New Millennium Poetry Prize judged by Marilyn Kallet.”

“My hope is that in sharing my efforts to heal in these poems, I will help others find their own peace. I write to bear witness and record the struggle of the heart, the mind, the body ensnared by powers that cannot be understood or controlled. Unlike a priest, I have only words to give a deeply troubled world. Writing poems is a trip I start each day to find meaning for my individual life. The spiritual quest is universal unlike the physical one of the body which is personal. Poetry can ease the journey because when words are placed on a page, are given the permanence of print, the spirit has prevailed, will endure.”

From her website: 

Ms. Shipley will be appearing at the 2012 Festival of Reading.  The complete schedule can be found at