Poet: Jean Preston
As published in Issue 3 of the Left of the Lake Magazine. Posted with permission.
You may not see her wearing a cape or leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but take heed: Jean Preston is a superhero. As a poet, director of the Carthage College Writing Center and Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, as a performer in the duo (with Susan Larkin), “Women of an Un-Certain Age”, and as Kenosha Poet Laureate, Jean is equal to Wonder Woman. She gives meaning to many who are not able to express themselves, yet are emboldened by her words. She cultivates a creative voice in people of all ages, who recognize that poetry is more than pretty words strung together; it is life essence, no different than a sacred spring whose waters bring rejuvenation for the body and soul.
Jean Preston may not stop locomotives with a single hand, but those who meet her through her words or workshops may find inner strength and a new way of looking at the world. She writes:
“I love small poems about big things, and big poems about small things. I love the way language wraps itself around my heart, enters it softly, or slams the door hard. The power of language has enchanted me my entire life, and is what led me to become a poet. Still, I sometimes hesitate to call myself poet, although I’ve been writing poetry seriously for well over a decade.
What I write (simple expressions about what it means to be a human being, a woman, in the world today) seems too ordinary to be considered poetry—and yet, sometimes it is. Sometimes, what moves through my fingers to the keyboard and onto the screen does indeed have an internal music that seems to write itself, combining mind and memory, heart and soul, to make a poem. In those moments or hours or days, I am completely absorbed and happy, humbled and profoundly grateful to be able to do this work.
Poetry gives voice to memory, freedom to imagination, and wings to dreams. It has allowed the stories of other people, predominantly women who have touched my life, to be told along with my own. For me, celebration of the very ordinariness of life—with all its joys and all its pain—is the purpose of poetry. I try to write poems about what I believe makes up much of people’s lives – the effort to fit the numerous and disparate pieces of life together in ways that make sense for themselves and for those they love, meeting sorrow with courage and joy with open arms.”
Best wishes to Jean Preston on her two year tenure as Kenosha Poet Laureate.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014 (Second Saturday), Jean Preston will be reading her poetry at the Kenosha Art Association Pop-Up Gallery at 5700 Sixth Ave. in downtown Kenosha.