Kentuckian Sarah McCartt-Jackson is the judge for our M. R. Poole American Heritage Award. A poet, naturalist, folklorist, and educator, she has received an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and has been twice nominated for a Puschart Prize.
Of dealing with a dried well of creativity, she has this to say:
When my well of creativity seems to run dry, I know I need to make more time and space for myself. Because I am a poet with a full-time job, I have to take extra steps to make sure I am saving space for myself. We all know that life creeps in like a swift vine; if you don’t pull it soon, it will take over your poetry house. No one is going to make the space or time for you. Unfortunately, I don’t have a secretary, so I have to set aside that time for myself. Mostly I do this through writing residencies and retreats. I have had the great fortune of serving as artist-in-residence for two National Parks. These were month-long residencies where I lived in the park and led one public workshop and reading. The rest of the time, I was able to explore, hike, read, and write without the pressures of everyday life. I love my family and my job, but time and space are necessary and precious for me as a writer. Even if I can only get away for a weekend at a retreat (even a self-created retreat at a hotel or campground), it can reignite my creative flame.
She shares this poem, which appears in her book Stonelight published by Airlie Press, 2018.