It’s Never Too Late
Thank you so much for choosing to include “5 Over 50” in the November/December 2016 issue. I haven’t been able to create the time and space to write since my second child was born sixteen months ago. As Desiree Cooper so aptly put it, “Frustrated at the stingy moments left for me to write, I often very nearly stopped.” Then I saw “5 Over 50” shining out from this issue’s cover. Finally! Someone saying that there is creative life still to live in the decades to come, even if you haven’t celebrated a debut to date? What a revelation! I snuck away from my two young children this morning to read the article, and soon found myself with wet cheeks and a renewed sense of hope. I can’t thank you enough. I’m “only” thirty-eight, yet I genuinely believed my writing dreams were over. But as Cooper wrote, “I couldn’t stay away for long.” Thank you for giving me the permission and the inspiration to return to my craft.
As a poet who published her first collection, Love Justice, at age fifty-eight, I appreciated “5 Over 50.” At age ten, I was blessed with that iconic Magical English Teacher, Marilyn W., who promised I would be a published poet someday and who offered to read anything I wrote, even as a first-year instructor teaching five classes per day in a crowded public school. Marilyn and I celebrated a joyous reunion when, after forty-eight years, I was able to put that book she promised I would publish into her hands. I could never have infused the colors, textures, and flavors of my life experiences into a book of poems much earlier. Thanks for cheerleading those of us in the second half of life who might otherwise feel discouraged, and for providing a much-needed ballast against the devaluing of, shall we say, the “less young” among your subscribers. Kudos to Magical English Teachers everywhere, and kudos to Poets & Writers Magazine!
Bracha Nechama Bomze
New York, New York
Thank you for acknowledging older writers in “5 Over 50.” Of course we should, and we want to, encourage young people to pursue publishing success, but more and more of us are reinventing ourselves through new careers begun in our fifties and beyond. Some do so out of necessity—loss of a job, for example—and others by choice. I was nearly fifty when I earned a PhD in history, and over fifty when I published my first and second books while teaching at a public university. My third book, Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves, will be published in spring 2017, and I am working on a fourth. I hope in some future issue of Poets & Writers Magazine to read about writers over sixty, seventy, or even eighty.
Marie Jenkins Schwartz
Wakefield, Rhode Island
It’s so great to see Poets & Writers Magazine profile emerging writers “over 50.” I’ve taught creative writing for decades and often find my most talented students in the over-fifty category. We do these fine writers and our entire culture a disservice by marginalizing them in our seeming preference for “young” writers.
A Call to Action
I am a poet with a disability. “A Call to Action: Working Toward Inclusiveness for Poets With Disabilities” (November/December 2016) by Jennifer Bartlett mentions a variety of publications that feature work by writers with disabilities, including Wordgathering and Beauty Is a Verb. Bartlett focuses on publications with a literary bent, which I feel is too exclusive. Publications such as Breath and Shadow, Kaleidoscope, and Magnets and Ladders feature work by disabled writers, and although they are not considered literary, they deserve recognition.
Abbie Johnson Taylor