Monday, July 1, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ McGuffy Ann

Kids, I have a real treat for you  this week, as I know there are so many animal lovers among us.  McGuffy Ann, from McGuffy's Reader, has a huge heart for animals, and is involved in rescue work, so you can see why I wanted to find out more about her, and to share her with all of you. We are circling the Great Lakes, at the moment, getting ready to touch down and make our way to her house. There is a bright-eyed dog at the door to greet us, alongside her mistress, and three very contented cats are purring in a sunny window.

P.U.: So nice to meet you! What shall I call you, kiddo?

Annie: My name is McGuffy Ann Morris, in that order. (Morris is my last name.) Professionally and legally I use my full name. People close to me call me Annie; Ann is my middle name. People can call me McGuffy Ann or Annie.

P.U.: Annie, then. Where on the Great Lakes do you  live, Annie?  It’s an area that has always fascinated me,  shared as it is with Canada. Tell us a bit about your life there, how you wound up there, and about your family? 

Annie: We currently live in far northeast Illinois, directly on the Wisconsin border. It is a “Chain-of-Lakes” area. Our county is Lake, and is on Lake Michigan.

My family roots are all Southern. I am a first generation Northerner.  I was born and raised in Chicago, for my early years. We then moved to several states and areas. I went to over nine schools, changing classes a couple of times during those school years. Continuity is important in education, especially grade school; it was difficult. I had a very difficult, painful and traumatic childhood. What didn’t kill me made me stronger. I believe I am an old soul. This had a great effect on my bonding with pets, my constant friends.

P.U.: I totally get that deep connection with animals that some of us have who haven't had much luck trusting humans.

Annie: Bill and I met after high school. We became friends immediately, and becoming close over the next four years, before marrying. We have been married 32 years now, and have been through a lot, always together. He is my rock.

Our wedding photo.We eloped. 
32 years! 6 June 1981

P.U.: How totally cute are you two??!! Your hubby looks a bit like John Lennon, in your wedding photo. (Be still, my heart!) I'm so happy you found each other. Moving so often, in your life, is there one place on the planet that is Home to you?

Dad and Stella

Annie: The Northwoods always feels like Home. We love Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, especially. I absolutely feel at home in the U.P., and would love to retire there someday. Lake Superior draws me.

P.U.: Have you always written? What is it you love most about poetry? 

Annie: I have always written. I fell in love with the written word as a child, spending hours in the library. That evolved into writing diaries, stories, and poetry. It was cathartic before creative, for me. I could put my feelings on paper, and then sort them out. I have learned to allow writing to be creative, as well. My writing is based on experiences, but also observations. I try to be the voice for those who have no voice, or aren’t able to use it for whatever reason. I know what that is like, to be forced to be silent. Not acknowledging something or someone’s pain only condones it, allowing it to continue. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

P.U.: I love that you try to be a voice for the voiceless. Way to be! I understand you were in the ROTC?

Annie: I was in ROTC, where I also wrote for the school and local newspapers. That taught me how to prioritize points in writing, as I was Public Relations Officer. When I graduated, I was the Executive Officer and highest ranking female. I did receive many awards for Outstanding Contributions, Colour Guard, Flag Detail, etc. I started and operated our military ball, and our ROTC newspaper. I think I had a lot of the patriotism and strong values to be good in ROTC, but I think ROTC also made me stronger, cementing those morals and values for a lifetime.

P.U.: Would you like to tell us about the fields you have worked in? 

Annie: I was working with the elderly right out of high school,  as a dental assistant, and as a teaching assistant. I have worked as a proof reader, as well. I still do that, and book reviews for many publishers and authors. I fell in love with working with animals. My rescue work led to becoming a veterinary technician with various clinics over the years, and evolved into my pet sitting/pet care business. I have worked with shelters, societies, rescues, but have also done much rescue on my own.

P.U.: Your love of animals is evident all over your blog.  What is the most heartbreaking thing about doing this work?  

Annie: The need, the caring, nurturing, and the unconditional love are endlessly rewarding. I am gifted in my ability to bottle-feed orphaned babies; it is a God-given gift, I believe. I have rescued many babies, from kittens to puppies, to rodents to rabbits. It is a labour of love. When one cannot be saved, it breaks my heart, no matter the age. I will stay up all hours, doing everything in my power to save a life, and have done it many times…and I will again.

P.U.: Tell us about your beautiful bright-eyed Stella, who was a rescue.  

Annie: She is a Bi-Black, which is quite uncommon. She is 3 years old. She was neglected, and had heartworm. We saw her & fell in love with her. We actually waited for her medical clearance. We rescued her through Sheltie Rescue, having had other Shelties. We did rescue a heartworm Sheltie many years ago (Hope; you can read her story on my blog). We waited after losing Polly, our coydog. We knew the right dog would come to us. She did...Stella!

P.U.: Such a beautiful girl. And your three cats are also rescues?

Annie: Maggie P. is my big white polydactyl Maine Coon. She was a show cat, who once she had her championship at age 1 was "retired", no longer "useful", as is often the case with breeds. They also need rescue. People need to realize that show pets, purebreds, also end up this way. They do their job, and then are left with nothing. 

We fell in love with her, and she is our Queen. She is five now. She was three when Grizelda & Chloe Jo came to us with their two siblings, at two days old. I bottle fed that very ill litter. Maggie became their nanny. They are her minions.

The kittens were a rescue litter of four, at 2 days old. In that picture they are maybe about 1 week old. The two black ones are Grizelda & Chloe Jo. The orange one is Moon, their brother. I bottle fed them all.  I had vaporizers going, was doing chest thumps, feeding every hour or two, depending upon their needs and breathing. They are 2 1/2 years old now.

The bunny was a wild bunny, rescued as a newborn, from a dog attack; the only survivor. I called him Solo. I bottle fed him, too. I release all wild animals; they are not mine, but belong to Nature.


Grizelda & Chloe Jo are two of the 4 kittens we rescued at 2 days old. Their siblings, Moon & Willow, were adopted out together. Moon passed away, of pneumonia, around his 2nd birthday last fall. They were a very ill litter. Their story is on my blog, too. I will be doing more of my rescue stories, and am working on a book of them.


Chloe Jo

P.U.: Kids, click on Critters, on Annie's site, for some wonderful animal stories.  I look forward to your book of rescue stories. What an awesome topic! I read about your husband's rescue of a  giant robin moth the other day, and was enchanted.  

Bless you both! Kids, check out Annie's What Moves Me, about how she feels about rescue work. 

Annie, you are an avid reader, as are most writers. Is there one book that, when you read it, had a major impact on you, or caused a light-bulb to come on? 

Annie: The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. I was 15 years old.

P.U.: Great choice. How about the best book you read when you were thirteen, and why? 

Annie: It was a poetry anthology that had Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks in it. They immediately spoke to me, and I began to write poetry. We had an assignment to put together a collection of twenty poems. I put together 100 poems. I was addicted, driven, I had a purpose.

P.U.: Yay! It got you writing! Annie, is there a poem, written by you, that you feel best reflects who you are?

Annie: Yes. This one pretty much says how I feel about my life.


I have walked miles across harsh lonely tundra,
through forests too dark to see the trees.
I have reached heights, climbing mountains of enigma.
and stumbled, falling into valleys of depression.
I have relied upon dawn as my epiphany,
and dusk as my reprieve.

I have sailed uncharted waters,
never knowing if I’d find my way.
I have navigated emotions,
steering toward the beacon of hope.
I feared capsizing or crashing haphazardly,
on the rocky shores of betrayal.

I must now follow the ebb and tide of uncertainty.
I am the steward of my voyage.
The promise of tomorrow is what guides me today.
I will weather the storms.
I will stay on course.
I will survive.

P.U.: I so totally relate  to this poem! What is on your Writing To Do list for the coming year? 

Annie: I hope to market my poetry book, “Weeds”, and hopefully my children’s book, “Bedtime Tail”. Kirkus Reviews just reviewed “Weeds”, and I am pleased with their assessment of it.

 "Aging, betrayal, inner reflection, a dismal view from a street  corner—something in this collection will speak to nearly everyone. As they  make their way through the emotional journey, some readers will connect to  the poems that travel through darkness to find the sparks of light that  remind us to keep going.

 Morris offers warm respite from the storm, like a friend with whom to  compare visions of dark clouds.

 A worthy read, especially for the disillusioned."

P.U.: 'Weeds' sounds wonderful! I love "especially for the disillusioned". I assume Bedtime Tail has a dog in it?

Annie: dogs...monsters! There is a cat on each page, though. It's Chloe Jo! 

Chloe Jo

P.U.: Good luck with them both, Annie, and keep us posted how they do. Any other fave activities? 

Annie: I love all nature, bird and animal watching, fishing, learning about places and things, traveling, and also (Packers) football and NASCAR (Roush-Fenway, Greg Biffle). I am extremely down to earth and simple.  I am also very spiritual.

P.U.: What is your idea of a perfect day? 

Annie: Cool and overcast, spent at home with Bill and our FurKids.

P.U.: Sounds perfect to me, too. Anything you’d like to say to Poets United? 

Annie: I hope to find my place here, to learn from others and perhaps inspire some, as well.

P.U.: You already have a place here, Annie. Just keep linking and making the rounds. It's how I, and all of us, started out, and you will be amazed at  where it leads you. Thanks for allowing us this wonderful visit.

Sigh. Doesn't it warm your hearts, kids, to meet such lovely people? Animal rescuers have a special place in my heart and, I'm sure, in God's as well. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who might be you! 


  1. Another interesting interview, Sherry. Annie, I have visited your blog a time or three and have always enjoyed your poetry. I really admire your work with animal rescue and can see that would be soething I would get into as well. Congratulations on your book publication. Feels good to have one's words in print, doesn't it? If you are on The WI border we're probably not too far from one another. Hope to continue to interact with you in the blogosphere.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I appreciate your visits and enjoy you, as well!

  2. Sherry, thanks for introducing me to another writer. You made me want to see more so I just jumped over to McGuffy's Reader and enjoyed the photographs of ponies and flowers. McGuffy Ann, the poem above feels familiar to me so I must have visited your work a time or two. Lovely to meet you. I'm looking forward to more of your poems.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I hope you will check out "Weeds". I also hope you will click on my Poetry, Fiction, and Musing tabs/pages at the top of my blog. There is more of my writing there. You can also click on the labels, in my right sidebar.

  3. Thank you for the lovely interview Sherry ~ How wonderful to learn more about you Annie ~ I enjoyed your journey, your animals and now your published work, congrats to you ~

    All the best ~

    1. Thank you, Grace. I really like this community of poets. This is such an honour, to be able to share here with people like you.

  4. This was a wonderful interview! I will be by to read more-I have a connection with animals, too! I am from the north living in the south~ YOU have a gift-okay, a few gifts ;D

    So nice to learn more about you! I look forward to getting to know you better! ATB

    1. Thank you, Ella. I am looking forward to getting to know you, too.

  5. I have enjoyed McGuffy Ann's blog for some time now, and it was lovely to read this interview. It just felt like I was having a chat with her myself! :)

    I had to Google ROTC, as a non-American unfamiliar with that term. A surprising extra aspect to this interesting poet / warm-hearted person. What a full life!

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. It has been an interesting life.

  6. As an animal lover, this interview was pure heaven for me! Annie, you rock! Keep shining!

    1. Sherry, YOU rock! I truly admire you.

  7. McGuffy Ann, a person I am privileged to call 'friend'. I got tears in my eyes, reading this, seeing yet more facets of her life and learning more about this very special, PRECIOUS person. What a choice in interview.....

    Hugs, McGuffy Ann!

    1. Hugs to you. Thank you. You are an inspiration.

  8. WOW! Loved the poem 'Map'. each and very line has such an indepth meaning. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you. I am always happy to know when my poetry speaks to someone.

  9. Lovely poem and I have been reading Ann! thanks Sherry for a wonderful interview.

  10. rock!! I just loved your animal-kingdom!I have been reading you for quite sometime now and you've a fan here..:)
    Thanks Sherry for sharing this absorbing interview.

    1. Panchali, this means a lot to me. Thank you so much!

  11. Such a beautiful poem! I really like the ending, knowing you have the inner strength to stay the course! I look forward to reading more of your poems. How lucky all your animals, the ones that stay and the ones that just pass through as they heal, are to have you their for them!

    1. Thank you, Robyn. I have learned so much from them; I feel blessed.

  12. I don't want to say "I told you so", but here's the proof. When people get to know you they love you and your work. Great interview, Annie ... well deserved and hard earned. I look forward to watching this grow ...


    1. Thank you, Andrea. I just want to share my experiences & observations; I want to be a voice for the voiceless.

  13. McGuffy Ann & Sherry,

    I enjoyed getting to know something more of the person beind the poems and the kind one who usually visits my poems!!
    A kindness towards animals is usually enough of a measurement of the human character involved.
    Congratulations on this lovely interview, and thanks of course to Sherry for introducing another gem:)


    1. Eileen, thank you. I agree; kindness to animals means something to me, as well. I appreciate your writing, and that you may enjoy mine, too.

  14. Ann, this was such a great interview and I'm so glad to finally put a face to your name.
    Good luck with your books.
    God bless.

    1. Thank you, Julia. I appreciate your support. Hugs.

  15. I too am glad to see your face. You know you like someone and what they do, but it really is nice to see them in person so to speak. Excellent interview.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

  16. It is a pleasure to see these pictures of your world, and especially those of you and your husband, and to read your words and attitude on life. Good luck in all your pursuits.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. I appreciate your time and comments.

  17. I follow Annie's blog and loved this interview. I learned so much about this author and blogger which I had not known previously. What an adorable wedding photo! Thanks, Janet

  18. I am a regular reader of McGuffy Ann's blog and she is truly an amazing woman. Loved this interview!

    1. Thank you for saying that. I appreciate you.

  19. Thank you to Poets United, Sherry for this interview. I also thank all of those who read my posts and writings, and comment on them. You are all wonderful.

  20. I loved the interview! Great work feeding those two day old cats! Did you use a machine, or something? Also do you do wildlife rehabilitation? Can't wait to read your story about animal rescue. I would also like to get a copy of your book Weeds too, when it comes out. I like all of your poems, and enjoy reading them.
    : )

    1. Thanks, Joseph! My books are available on now. I have done animal rescue, including wildlife, for 35+ years. When bottle feeding, it is all by my own two hands...and heart & soul.

  21. Enjoyed your interview, Annie. :-)