15 January 2017

Poet Guest Amy Ballard & Giveaway!



Author Amy Ballard

Carrie, thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be able to hang out on your blog and meet some of your readers.

To introduce myself, I’m a high school English teacher and freelance writer living in southern Idaho. I grew up in Maine, scribbling away at my journals and poems while homeschooling. I went on to study Creative Writing at Bob Jones University, then launched my writing career by working as a correspondent for the Times-News, a newspaper in Twin Falls. When I became certified to teach and became a full-time public school teacher, I had a lot less time for writing. Still, I sent the occasional manuscript out and kept believing that God had given me the gift of writing, and that over time, I’d see results.

Some of your readers will know my mother, award-winning inspirational author Susan Page Davis (susanpagedavis.com). Mom has been a great encouragement to me as a writer at every step along the way.

Now it’s finally time to celebrate the release of my poetry chapbook, Landlocked. It’s about place—the importance of place to the psyche, the craving we all have for our own place, and homesickness. My mom used to tell me that I bloom where planted. That’s true, but moving from Maine to Idaho hasn’t been a completely seamless transition. The journey isn’t over, and I still get homesick for New England after sixteen years in the West. But God has not failed to reveal the blessings of being right where He has placed me. In the seventeen poems in Landlocked, you’ll see my struggle at several points along the journey toward accepting my new home.

Some people don’t realize they like poetry. I mean, we know and cherish poetic passages from many sources—songs, Bible stories, even TV commercials—and don’t realize they’re poetry. We associate poetry instead with bad run-ins with Shakespeare in high school, or with cheesy greeting card verse. Really, poetry is for everyone. If you’ve ever sung along with a catchy tune on the radio or savored the wording of a favorite Psalm, it’s for you, too.

Here’s one of the poems from Landlocked:

DISCONTENT

Driving home from church, some evenings,
Dad would point to the western sky
Where purple clouds were gathered.
“If we were in Oregon,” he’d say,
“Those would be mountains!”

His native state must be like Heaven,
The way he talked. “I dreamed I died
And went to Oregon.”

His discontent grated on the rest of us
At times. Look around!
The Maine air’s so clean
They try to bottle it!

Now I live that same displacement.
Sometimes I wish these glorious mountains
Were only purple clouds.


Incidentally, my parents have moved from Maine to Kentucky, so the old saying, “You can never go home again” is true in my case. Now when I visit Maine, I’m a tourist. And that’s okay.
Landlocked by Amy Ballard

Here’s a poem that shows the other side of the coin, a time when I could see the beauty in my new surroundings.

THE PRAIRIE IN FALL

What is it like to live in the city
and not have geese swimming overhead
in fine formation
while cows graze the yellow stubble?
Never to watch the shadow of a white cloud
glide along the foothills
like blue-violet paint on a roller?

The convenience of a corner store
and the proximity of movie theaters
could not replace the prairie’s splendor
in fall.

When Paul wrote, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content,” he wasn’t talking about “states” as in organized political communities under a government, but I’ve had to learn to be content in different geographical states. Granted, it’s not a true culture shock. Mainers and Idahoans speak (roughly!) the same language. One of my friends is a missionary in Croatia, and I can only imagine the sense of uprootedness she must feel. I know her faith in God is teaching her contentment, too.

I would like to encourage readers to allow God to work contentment in their lives. Reading my poems, you’ll know that it’s been a tough growth process for me and that the process isn’t over. But I believe God has put me here for a purpose, and I want to experience that purpose abundantly.

Order Landlocked at www.createspace.com/6821684.

Please drop me a line here in the comments, and find me on Facebook @christianteacherpublicschool. I blog at christianteacherpublicschool.blogspot.com. My Web site is amyballard.com.

Thanks again for having me!

CFP: Thanks for visiting OWG blog, Amy! And thanks for offering a giveaway of your book to one of our readers! Simply comment below to be entered.

33 comments:

  1. Congrats on 'Landlocked', Amy!! I enjoyed your interesting, enlightening post - thank you!! I do feel God has a plan for each of His followers - although I haven't always readily accepted and embraced change over the years, I've found life's greatest joys and fulfillment have come through accepting, finding contentment through, and following that plan.

    I had the pleasure of meeting your sweet mother at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in Nashville, of which I was an organizer, this past August. I live in the Louisville, Ky. area - perhaps I'll run into her at an area book event in the 'not-too-distant' future, or this years CFRR.

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    1. Bonnie, thanks so much for joining us! I've been to Louisville, and it's lovely! So many unique historical places. My mom has been such an encouragement to me in my growth as a writer. Glad you two met up!

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  2. Thank you for sharing Amy. My mom used to write poems, so I have a soft spot for them. Blessings

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    1. Thank you, Lucy! Poetry has always been comforting and inspiring to me. I remember getting my hands on this really old edition of Robert Burns as a teen (probably scooped it up at a library sale) and wading through the Scottish dialect determinedly because the poems were so good! And funny! Glad you stopped by.

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  3. You look a lot like your mom. Congratulations on your poetry book! I love the samples. Please put my name in the drawing. I would LOVE to win your book.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! This is the first time either of these two poems (above) have appeared online or in print, other than in the chapbook. It's exciting to see them looking so pretty here! Readers might also like to stop by a site from National University where my poem "A Feather" appears, also for the first time in print. It's not in the chapbook. Just go to https://gnujournal.com/2017/01/15/gnu-journal-winter-issue-2017/ and click on the Winter Poetry Issue. I'm on page 18. Thanks for the kind words!

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    2. CONGRATS! Per random.org, you have won Amy Ballard's new poetry book, Chappy!!! Will be contacting her shortly to let her know! Blessings!

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  4. I have been a lover of poetry for many years. In fact, when I was a child, my grandmother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted a book of poetry. That is exactly what she gave me and I still have it over fifty years later. Thank you for letting us get to know you better.

    mauback k55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Melanie, thanks so much for visiting! You reminded me of a poetry anthology my friend Rachel and I dug into one day when we were kids. We found a poem called "Strawberry Jam" and decided to act it out. I think we put on a performance for her grandmother. What a great memory! It's nice to find fellow poetry lovers here today!

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  5. The author of the "Strawberry Jam" poem was May Justus, in case it brought back memories for anyone else, too. I'm looking for the text of the poem online, but having trouble finding it.

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  6. For our Pinterest users out there, here's my board to go with Landlocked: https://www.pinterest.com/amydavisballard/landlocked-poems-by-amy-ballard/. You'll find photos of places near and dear to me (both in Maine and in Idaho), vintage postcards, quotes from the poems, and inspiration pics. Enjoy!

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  7. Very interesting! I don't read a lot of poetry, but, I want to read this book. :-)

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  8. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa! We'll enter your name in the drawing.

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  9. I want to share a coupon code with you in case you'd like to purchase Landlocked in my Create Space Store (https://www.createspace.com/6821684). The code RMH99YW4 will give you 20% off for a limited time.

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing with us on OWG this week, AMY! We're so happy to have you! Your mom is such a sweet lady, a good author, and has raised a lovely daughter as well. Loving poetry snuck up on me just like classical music. lol I always liked poetry a little until I started reading it more and now I love it! Same with classical music. I abhorred it (I thought) until a friend who sings it sent me some of his music. Now I find it absolutely lovely! Sometimes we have to "grow up" to learn to appreciate the finer things in life. Like broccoli! :) Congrats, Amy!

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    1. Thanks, Diana! I'm enjoying my visit to OWG. My grandmother Ruth was a great help to me as a teenager during one of her visits to Maine, when she sat down with me and helped me revise some of my poems. She had a lot of good insights that I respected, despite our generation gap. She's with the Lord now, but I have to credit her as helping me develop my ear for the "music" of poetry.

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  11. I really enjoyed your poems. I can relate to the appeal of the prairie over a city and also to having to learn to be content wherever I am. I've experienced quite a few moves in my life. Often I had difficulty adjusting to the move. It seemed like when I'd finally become comfortable being there, it was time for another move! Now, in my upper middle-aged years, with kids grown and husband long gone, I'm in a small town near where I grew up. I've been here ten years, which is the longest I've lived in one house since I was a child. It's good to be growing roots again.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Pam! It's amazing how our life journeys sometimes seem to come around full circle.

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  12. Thank you for the opportunity to win this lovely book.
    JoanEC128@AOL.com

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  13. What a nice book to read and enjoy. Thank you fro this giveaway.
    MarionMPC@AOL.com

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  14. Thank you for this post. This book sounds exciting and interesting. Thank you for the giveaway.
    MarilynDKC@AOL.com

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  15. Very interesting post Amy. Congratulations on your book Amy!

    My favorite poems are the poems my husband wrote to me while we were dating & he was in the Navy. I still have all his letters & poems he sent me...precious.
    Blessings, Tina

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    1. That's sweet! What a lucky lady. Thanks for visiting!

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  16. congratulations on the new book! Shelia Hall sheliarha64@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks, Shelia! We'll put your name in the hat.

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  17. Those are beautiful poems! Congrats! Donamaekutska7@gmail.com

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    1. Great to have you here, Donamae. Thank you for the kind words!

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  18. Congratulations Amy on Landlocked being published!! As a person who doesn't usually go for poetry I really enjoyed the samples you included in this post and would like to read the rest. May you publish many more books!! Thanks to both Amy and Carrie for this inspirational post!

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  19. I loved the post. It blesses my heart to see you publishing your poetry. It usually brings tears to my eyes when I read it! And BTW, it's Robert Frost for me! "In Neglect" and "The Telephone" are two of my favorites.

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    1. Thanks, Mom! "After Apple Picking" is a favorite of mine by Frost. It's a beautiful reflection on tasks left unfinished. . .sad, but common to all.

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  20. Thanks for all the kind words, friends! Carrie will announce the winner after the weekend. I'll also announce the name on my blog, christianteacherpublicschool.blogspot.com.

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  21. Congrats amy on the book. It looks amazing.
    Diane
    quickchangeus@yahoo.com

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