Member Spotlight for the Month of February 2003 - Mara Meade

Everyone is so afraid of death,
But the real Sufis just laugh:
Nothing tyrannizes their hearts
What strikes the oyster shell
Doesn't damage the pearl.

--Rumi (Mathnawi I, 3495-96)

Mara Meade's life experiences have tested her just like the pearl in Rumi's poem...and she has come through all of them the stronger for it.

Mara is "in the 43rd chapter of her life." The first chapter began overseas, far from America's shore. Mara was born in the Belgian Congo and lived in Libya, the Sudan, and Nigeria. Her family evacuated Africa during the Nigerian civil war of 1967 and returned to the United States. Her first school year in the States was thus the 1967-68 school year. Immediately thereafter, her family relocated to Kabul, Afghanistan, where she lived for six years, encompassing the fourth through ninth grade years of her life--very impressionable years...years during which the core of the woman Mara was to become came to be.

Her view of life is colored greatly by her childhood in third-world countries. Mara is very comfortable with that lifestyle--a lifestyle filled with camels, donkeys, colourful bazaars, food cooked on open firebeds, and the sounds of mullahs calling the faithful to mosque. All of these scents, sights, and sounds entered deeply into her heart, causing her to grow into an extremely open person who is not easily offended. She is a woman who doesn't see color in people...a person who understands and accepts cultural differences. And, being a very sensory person, these scents, sights, and sounds from her childhood affect her greatly. She has "drums in her blood," which contributes to her creativity: she hears and feels the rhythm in her head ... and then words fall into it.

It is therefore not surprising that Mara loves writing AND music. She not only writes music, but sings beautifully--in fact, she had a vocal scholarship to college at the end of her high school days. Unfortunately, she was not able to pursue that course of study and went into journalism instead. Her degree is in print journalism, with an emphasis on public relations and advertising. After school, she worked as a reporter for a small-town newspaper. But such writing did not bring complete satisfaction. She needed more creativity...and needed to feel that her "work" provided something positive and uplifting to the world. She then began searching for ways to accomplish this. The search eventually led to her current job as an aesthetician. Here she is able to help her clients find "an hour of peace." During that hour, through the use of candles, music, and aromatherapy, she creates a peaceful environment for her client. Many of her clients fall asleep...and some even snore! Mara feels that this is the biggest compliment she can be paid. When they leave, they are so relaxed to almost be in a trance. What a wonderful gift she gives to each person she sees.

This caring for people is found throughout all of Mara's poetry. Her poetic "voice" speaks truth, understanding, and empathy to all who read. This voice had its beginnings in Mara's youth, through years of faithful journal-keeping. She began writing poetry at the age of seven and published her first and only poem in "Ranger Rick" magazine at the age of nine. She continued to write all through college, up until she married. Then came part-time corporate America and kids and, before she knew it, 17 years had passed. Fortunately, a renewed childhood friendship with Pathetic's own Sallie Mattison Young changed all that. Sallie encouraged Mara to begin writing again ... and here she is now: bringing insight, joy, and passion to all who read her work here on Pathetic.

Mara's poetry is influenced by almost any type of music except angry rap (“It’s just a little too chaotic for me,” she says.) From the folk songs of the early ‘60s through today--rhythm and blues, and old country and western to hard rock and roll, music has always intrigued and been a “companion” to her. She especially enjoys the works of Emmy Lou Harris, Cat Stevens, John Prine, and Kris Kristofferson. She loves music with a message. She considers Kristofferson and Stevens to be a "pure poets."

Poets who influence her include Robert Frost (who she adores), Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Rabindrath Tagore (an Indian poet), who had a huge impact on her...upon reading his poetry as a teenager, she began to see poetry not just as rhyme but as an expression of truth (in a spiritual sense). She also very much enjoys the poems of Khalil Gibran and Rumi.

Mara describes herself as a "soul junkie." She reads poetry on site to learn about the person and “glean insights into humanity.” While her reading and writing style is eclectic, she does have several poets she considers “cornerstones.” During quiet times, she enjoys reading the poetry of Sara Teasdale. When she is curious or anxious, she reads Rumi or the writings of Idries Shah. When she is sad or blue, she turns to Robert Frost. And when she is happy, she listens to music!

For the most part, Mara writes poetry when she is experiencing turmoil of some sort in her life, be it sadness or curiosity or other emotions. The poetry comes to her from within when it is needed--she does not control it ... especially the poetry of Mama Jo. Mara describes Mama Jo as a personality separate from herself. Mama Jo comes, says her piece, and then leaves. Mara believes Mama Jo to be an individual who speaks truth when it needs to be said.

Of Mama Jo's poems, Mara's favorite is "Long Slow Turn on a Hard Dirt Road." Other favorite poems include "Rosemary Grew Wild," which was written for Mara's Aunt Rosie a few days before she died, and "Topiary," which Mara feels begins very plain and simply, and ends with a line that just makes her laugh!

Mara's poems come as they do with little rework. There have only been a few where she has sat on them for a day or two. She is often not conscious of having written a line ... it just comes out. She also occasionally seeks the advice of other poets on Pathetic.

Because haiku is such a pure form, she feels that it is ripe for playing and skewering! The form lends itself to quips of humor. One day, Mara will write a peaceful haiku or one that is “truer to form,” but, for now, she is content to just have fun with it!

We are blessed on Pathetic to have such a talent as Mara Meade among us. I hope that all of us can experience what Mara so eloquently states in the poem that is her favorite of all of her poems, "For Just One Day":

"Speak we will and weep we must

and mix our sadness with our trust
for quick it passes, brief the light
our golden day will fade to night.

"We'll laugh at what the years have spanned

as bending, help each other stand
frail, arm in arm, we turn to go
but slowly leave, for this we know ...

"You take me back to fly away.

So promise me that just one day."

The following is a list of the highlights of Mara Meade's poetry:


The member spotlighted in this month's "Member Spotlight" is chosen by the pathetic.org Spotlight committee, which is made up of a small group of site patrons and administrators. Each month a member is selected for this privilege based upon contributions to pathetic.org and the quality of work.

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