Of Words and Woods

Mary E. Weems' muse is 3he trees and craggy rocks of Cleveland Metroparks" Garfield Park Reservation. In nature, the 49-year-old poet finds a nurturing environment and a wellspring of imagery that she shapes into words.

—I go to the park for a quiet place to think, to connect myself to the land and to realize how small I am in the huge scheme of things," she explains.

Weems, who grew up in Cleveland's inner city, began writing poetry at age 13 in an attempt to boost her self-esteem and conquer painful bouts of shyness. It soon became an integral part of her life.

She went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree and a master's degree in English from Cleveland State University. Weems started her own consulting business, Bringing Words to Life, which teaches educators ways to spark students' interest in the power of language. She's authored three volumes of poetry, "White" (Kent State University Press), "Fembles" (Bowling Green State University Press) and "Blackeyed" (Burning Press), and contributed to "Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets" (Syracuse University Press).

Weems is fascinated by "the cycle of humanity — what happens to people's lives between birth and death." And since green spaces reflect this passage of time, they've become a central theme in her writing.

"Just like humans, parks are never the same twice," she says. "Every time I go, there's some new adventure to discover: growing trees, the sound of running water, different kinds of birds — just the changing of things in general."

Weems hopes her poems will inspire others to appreciate the landscape around them.

"I'm surprised at how often I talk to people about the things I marvel at in nature and they tell me they can't remember the last time they walked in, took a ride through or even had a picnic in a park.

"Everyone, no matter what their age or occupation, should take time to stop and smell the roses."

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