For my Mother, Ina Claire James Martin, who first realized I was a poet.
I also dedicate this book to my wife and life partner, Joyce Elaine Watson, without whom this volume of selected poetry would not have been possible.
I wish to thank Suite101 Senior Managing Editor, Barbara Nicholson Bell, for editing this volume. Her encouragement catalyzed me to action to select and finally to evaluate some of poems that I have written during my life.
Thanks also to my fellow contributing editors at Suite101 who have supported my writing through the years. Thanks to all of you for stopping by my site and taking time to leave a message of constructive criticism or appreciated encouragement.
Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the owners and management of Suite101 (including the other Senior Managing Editors), for their hard work and dedication in continuing to offer writers, budding or established, an outstanding Web forum in which to publish quality writing, develop college-level courses, market quality books, goods and services and pursue enduring friendships.
I must confess that until the last few years I had been a poet who mostly collected fragments, writing the odd line here that suddenly appeared in my consciousness or a turn of phrase there that seemed to sum up some thoughts or feelings. I have always had a chronic problem with finishing poems - mostly because what I tried to add to make a complete poem so often clashed with the quality of the gift that the Muse had given me outright - undeserving mortal that I am.
Thus, the hardest part of writing poetry for me has been the cultivation of what I call "thinking poetically," the ability to turn into actual poetry the gift that the "Muse" offers outright, the insights and words that she sometimes gives the poet from her unfathomable consciousness. I have struggled with this most of my life.
Then, suddenly, a few years ago, after I started writing essays and stories more regularly, I found myself starting to write poetry again after a decade or more of silence. I discovered that I was actually mining my life experience and producing those multi-faceted crystals of insight, inspiration and intention that I humbly call poetry. I also started revising and even finishing poems that I wrote decades ago so great has been the alchemical change in my literary consciousness.
I am not quite sure what brought about this change of consciousness, but I am grateful to whatever Providence exists for some continuing closure for these poems, some of which were started in childhood.
I sincerely hope you find reading these poems as worthwhile an experience as I had in writing them.
Thomas James Martin
August 13, 2003
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