On working with Annie:
About ten years ago, I put out a call to the universe, some would call it a prayer, for a writing mentor. I had studied poetry for a long time on my own but had no formal education in the creative process. As a member of an established poet’s group in the city where I live, my poems improved in the company of my peers, but I was eager for a richer challenge.
I started to imagine my ideal teacher. She would have a deep understanding of the written word, the academic expertise to help shape the body and bones of my poems. She would be a hardworking literary coach able to cultivate the best within me. She would be a poetry medicine woman able to teach me how to heal self and others with words. She would be a trusted midwife assisting that which wanted to spring uniquely from me. And she would also have to be “a good soul,” a sensitive and kind-hearted person, close to the earth, a lover of the natural world.
That good soul, Annie Stapleton, appeared on my horizon like an order from heaven, the answer to my call. We worked together in tandem across a few years as she tailored our work relationship to suit my purposes. Her wise “assignments” were primarily invitations and suggestions to read poems, articles and books that served to inform the poems I was creating. Annie supplied an abundance of study material, and her questions alone were worth the tutorial fees. She studied each line of my poems, and each word in each line, as if the entire poem depended on it, which it did. Under her guidance I developed a stronger and more refined poetic "voice."
As a result of my studies with Annie, I’ve had two chapbooks published, one each by Pudding House Press and Finishing Line Press. I’ve been published in journals and anthologies, have read my work on WVXU-FM public radio in Cincinnati, have given public readings at Ohio Poetry Day and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and several of my poems have won prizes. Most important of all, my development and confidence as a woman and as a poet has surpassed expectations. Lucky are you, dare I say blessed, should you have an opportunity to study with Annie.
Susan F. Glassmeyer Poet, somatic therapist and Feldenkrais practitioner, codirector of Cincinnati Holistic Health Center Cook's Luck (Finishing Line Press); Body Matters (Pudding House) February 20, 2017
How eagerly I anticipated each fresh batch
of Annie Stapleton’s gentle critiques!
Her kind, keen mentoring of my poems,
all the more treasured because her own sensibility
—original, alive, sensitive, intuitive—
filled every suggestion and blessedly breathed new life
into my work as a poet.
I marveled when she shared one of her own poems.
Brimming with keen observation, compassion
and her deep love of all wild creatures and nature,
I felt my self quicken as I read her work.
Such generous, rich bounty, such humility.
How can I be so lucky, I felt, to place my young work
into the sensitive, sure hands of this gentle, masterful
Nancy Johanson Poet, author, artist, healer Wild Grape Jelly Sky, White Stars (Finishing Line Press) February 20, 2017