An Awesome Autumn Afternoon

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Artwork by Kathy Baker

Yesterday’s In Print Word of Art reception was a great kick off for an awesome autumn.  And I’m  not just saying that because my piece, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of five finalists selected by writer/publisher John Gile from the thirty stories on display. The event went off without a hitch, the room filled to the brim with artists, writers, family and friends.

All of the artwork and accompanying stories or poems were displayed artistically on the walls of the Celebration Room of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and authors and artists were able to read and/or talk about their entries to a packed room. Refreshments were served and there was an opportunity to buy books and have them signed by the participants. The event was sponsored by In Print in cooperation with the Center for Arts and Spirituality and Art@Emmanuel.

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An Autumn Afternoon

The orchard smells of apples. I stretch out to grab a red globe that dangles within reach. The stem snaps; leaves float down around me. More apples tempt me just out of range, begging to be picked. Each so smooth and perfect, I wish I were two feet taller.

I shine the fruit to a deep maroon on the thigh of my jeans. Not a flaw in it. My teeth crunch through the red-skinned, white flesh. The juice, sweet and tart, puckers my cheeks. The framework of branches above me stretches like a stairway waiting for an adventurous child. But there is no child to climb today.

Or is there? I step into the crotch of the tree and hoist myself up. Left foot, right foot, then—I stop. What is it about adulthood that makes us so cautious?

I sit on a likely looking limb and take another bite. The aroma of the ripening fruit mingles with a whiff of burning leaves. Through the tracing of branches, I glimpse my neighbor in a red and black checked shirt. He leans on his rake, flames rising from a pile of brown and gold and red, looking my way.

Kathy Baker produced the artwork that illustrates the story which was displayed both on the wall and in the book next to the story. She has a BFA in photography and used Photoshop to meld her images together in her interpretation of the piece.  She shared during last night’s presentation that she was drawn to the story by the sights, smells, touch and tastes so vividly portrayed, and also because she was a tomboy like me who used to love climbing trees.

John Giles had similar comments to make about why he chose the piece as one of the finalists.  Here’s what he had to say:

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wpid-cam00725.jpg Judging for the writing was based on the following criteria:

  • “I looked for writing that won my attention, that made me stop and feel and be grateful to the writer for the experience
  • I looked for writing that communicates broadly, that has the power to draw an array of readers into a moment of common-union.
  • I looked for writing that honors Tolstoy’s counsel that the only totally honest thing a writer has to share with a reader is a part of himself/herself.
  • I looked for writing that opened my eyes and mind and heart to look at things in a way I hadn’t looked at them before.
  • I looked for writing that expanded my vision to see what I may not have seen or at least may not have noticed at a conscious level.
  • I looked for writing that avoided the pitfalls of calling attention to itself, a sign of trying too hard, and of being esoteric.

The winner of the writing competition was a beautiful and moving poem by Karna Tecla titled “The Immigrant.” To read it and see the accompanying artwork, and all the wonderful work on display, I encourage you to visit the ELC gallery in Rockford at 920 3rd Ave.  The showing will be viewable on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm Sept. 8 through Sept. 26.  Enter through the north entrance off 2nd Ave. Books can also be purchased by emailing wordofart@inprintwriters.com.

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I will write more about the artwork and other prizes in my next blog post.  In the meantime, the affirmation I received has given me the confidence to jump back in full steam ahead with edits for Box of Rain.

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