Monday, June 3rd, 2013
“When a memoir or story on SMITH has made me laugh or cry or wish that I had written it, I have communicated with the writer and/or marked the writing as a favorite. My list of favorites is very long.”
Name: Beverly Head
Place: near Atlanta, Georgia
SMITH member since: November 2010
Beverly Head made her debut on the Six-Word Memoir project with a story about endings: “Thirty eight years. Keys returned. Retired.” Yet those six words were the start of something new for Beverly, who taught English for 35 years at a two-year college in the University System of Georgia, serving as chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division for eight of those years. Beverly has amassed more than 1,700 memoirs since joining SMITH as Bevvie in 2010. Her writing reflects milestones both personal (“PMS. Periods. Flashes. Finis. Finis. Finis”) and familial (“Parenting: the cake. Grandparenting: the icing). Beverly has a sharp sense of humor about herself (“So old school, I’m one room”) and life in general (“Kindle. Nook. eBook. iPad. iPhone. iConfused.”), at times with tinges of rebellion (“Six word revolt! I’m using seven words!”). She is a “Poet by nature. Poet my nurture,” and her aptitude for creative writing shines through, as captured in the poignant “Memoir washed away by 6,000 word tsunami.”
In our “Six Questions for…” feature, June’s Memoirist of the Month, Beverly Head, shares her passion for writing and the retired life. We know Beverly, who lives in a small suburb just outside of Atlanta, will have fun choosing her own Six-Word Memoir T-shirt, courtesy of our partners at Spreadshirt.
When did you start writing, and what have been turning points in your creative life?
I started writing in high school. I still have pages and pages of those stories and poems illustrated with my doodles. An early turning point in my creative life came in college when one of my creative writing professors submitted one of my poems (I was reluctant to submit my work) to a national creative writing contest. I won second place. That prize gave me the boost I needed to continue writing.
Another turning point came when I won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. The award included publication of my book, Walking North, as part of the Michigan State University Press Lotus Poetry Series.
And, of course, I consider finding SMITH as a turning point in my creative life. I first read about SMITH in an issue of Mind Body Sole magazine, published by Famous Footwear. I had just retired and bought a new pair of walking shoes. The magazine came with the shoes. SMITH was mentioned as one way “to boost your brain power and get those smart juices flowing.” I joined immediately but did not write a memoir for a few months. I didn’t think that I could tell a story in just six words.
Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, Moment or other story in SMITH of yours and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
“Not Lot’s Wife. Never looking back” is a favorite. When I wrote the memoir in May 2011, I was thinking about moving ahead from teaching and focusing on writing. Then came several health challenges during the last months of 2011. Now I consider that memoir as an inspiration and a daily affirmation!
What authors inspire you or do you admire?
I love poetry and science fiction. Therefore, I admire many writers; however, I most admire Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Zora Neale Hurston, Sylvia Plath, Octavia Butler, and Lucille Clifton. I have been inspired by their themes, imagery, and language. I have written six-word memoirs that were inspired by their works and their lives. [Editor’s Note: one of our favorites is “Zora, my eyes are watching God.”]
Is there someone’s writing on SMITH that’s especially moved you?
Several writers have moved me on SMITH. I could list names, but I would be mortified if I left out someone’s name. The writers should know who they are based on my comments on their memoirs. And I have exchanged email messages with them as well. When a memoir or story has made me laugh or cry or wish that I had written it, I have communicated with the writer and/or marked the writing as a favorite. My list of favorites is very long.
There were two stories that resonated with me, and I cried while reading them: the backstory that was included with notjustagirlintheworld’s memoir “My dad would have loved this” and Dean6805’s story “Making a Promise, Keeping a Promise.” Both were intensely personal stories that drew me in emotionally.
SMITH has brought many things into my life: an opportunity to write creatively, a chance to be a part of a writing community, the opportunity to meet new people. L2L3 has visited me twice (sending fudge and bringing apple pie), and I have corresponded with Believe (sending my Believe hat).
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Reading, gardening, going to movies, museums, plays, craft shows, and home tours, and talking on the telephone.
Finally, Beverly Head, what’s your Six-Word Memoir for today?
Caution! 65 ahead! Not slowing down!