The above figure is MaryAnn L. Miller, the artist and poet who created the broadsides for the winning poem of the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, “Genesis: Beginning the In” by Lisa Grunberger.
I met MaryAnn when she submitted to the reading series I used to run, Feats of Poetic Strength. I fell in love with the vitality of her words–what she has to say is so important. At the reading where she read, she captivated the audience with her poems about, in part, hysteria in relation to women’s health-over a year later, I still remember this vividly.
I also remember the first time I saw a broadside she’d created, one for poet Hila Ratzabi, and I found it stunning.
So MaryAnn was the first person I thought of when the idea of the Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, and its prize of a Broadside, came to mind. When I asked her, she enthusiastically said yes, and generously, offering to cover all costs. I was so grateful! I can’t stress this enough. It was a major act of selflessness.
In these profiles I’ve been writing, I asked the finalists to tell me about a woman they admired. In MaryAnn’s case, I asked if she would write about why she said “yes” to the project, and what she admires about the contest’s judge, J.C. Todd. The two are a sort of set of creativity-sisters, regularly working on pieces together. I love stories of women working together, particularly in the arts, and wanted to highlight a modern day duo.
MaryAnn had the following to say:
Working with J. C. is always a gift because she has a massive intellect and ready curiosity. I can count on her to look at details, examine everything, and enable inspiration. She has the desire to learn anything and brings her total focus to bear on a project. J. C. as judge of the poetry contest is part of the reason I wanted to contribute to the Brittany Noakes Award project. I knew the poem would be fine and full of imagery. The other part is Shevaun’s creating an art pathway that I could take to help a single mother.
If you could just ignore my blushing from the end there, that’d be great.
Our next profile will be on Judge J.C. Todd, and then at long last, the profile of our winner, the image of the broadside, and info on its debut at Soroptimist International of Rittenhouse Square‘s first poetry reading.