Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I'm happy to introduce you to a person and a poem on this Veterans Day. Last weekend I was walking downtown and heard my name called from across the street. A familiar face and friendly wave were just outside the Beaufort Art Association gallery. I was trying to sort it out; it looked like Melissa St. Clair, but wasn't she in a different part of the state now? She and her husband had attended the same church as Jeff and I, though we haven't been many times since the pandemic. That, plus their move, is probably why I didn't know about the interesting things she's been up to in the last couple of years.
Melissa was in town because last year, she had the winning photo in a contest, and it is on display at the art association gallery for the month of November. Her photo of the Beaufort National Cemetery with Wreaths Across America was selected by the South Carolina Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) "Rise and Shine: What American Means To Me" Committee. Entries could include a caption or a short paragraph up to 100 words and were judged on interpretation of theme, creativity, and overall impression by a panel of two DAR Members and one non-DAR Member.
Here is the accompanying poem:
What America Means to Me
Heroes n'er forget
©Melissa Whiteford St. Clair
Sponsored by the Thomas Heyward Jr. Chapter in Beaufort, SC, St. Clair was presented with the award certificate by Mrs. Gail LaGrone Newton, State Americanism Chair and current President of the Beaufort [SC] Chapter at the 2022 SC DAR State Conference.
"I am honored to share this photograph and companion poem display with patrons of the Beaufort Art Association Gallery, especially during the month of November when we set aside a day, Veterans Day, to thank our active duty and retired servicemembers and leading up to the annual Wreaths Across America Day in December," she said. The full press release about the award can be found here.
Melissa is no stranger to a life of service. She married her high school sweetheart, who joined the military. They traveled the next 30 years wherever the US Marine Corps sent them.
I discovered that in addition to making an appearance at the gallery for our November First Friday celebration, Melissa also attended a poetry workshop at the Pat Conroy Literary Center while she was in the neighborhood. She published a collection of poetry last year called WHITE GIRL HOMEWORK. (You can find it on Amazon here.) I had no idea!
She explains that the rise of social injustic in the United States deeply affected her emotionally, and she began a journey that led her to found White Girl Advocacy, LLC. (Click here to learn more.) The organization's purpose is to "share history lessons plus creative arts for white women who want to be better friends, neighbors, colleagues, and community-builders - better humans." She launched her chapbook, the full title of which is White Girl Home Work A Collection of Poems Sparked by One White Woman's Journey on the Matter of Race, on Harriet Tubman Day, March 10, in 2021.
Many thanks to Melissa for sharing her work with us today!
The talented and wonderful Buffy Silverman has our Roundup this week; enjoy all the offerings. And thank a veteran!