Monday, September 16, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ Margaret Bednar

At Margaret's blog, Art definitely does happen 365! Art Happens 365 is brimming with poetry, photography, art, children and horses, just like this poet's life. I knew we would all enjoy a visit to the farm, so hop aboard. This time, we are taking - appropriately - a horse-drawn buggy. Lovely to hear the bells on the horses' halters jingling as they clop along. Oh! I hear doors slamming, children's voices, and laughter. This must be the place!

P.U.: Margaret, I am so looking forward to this. Six children, animals, horses. Yay! So set the scene for us. What does life look like at the Bednar farm?

Margaret with her beloved Oberon

Margaret: Life at the Bednar’s.  Well, let’s put it this way.  Upon returning from a friend’s house, my daughter said she’d had a “spa-like” experience - no yelling, soothing music, clean kitchen, no fighting over the t.v. channels...  but I smiled, as that same friend comes to our house and doesn’t want to leave because she finds it “so exciting”.   My best guess is our household ranks somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios.

Our house seems rather tame these days as my two eldest are in college. My oldest son is a drama major and my eldest daughter is studying scene design - she almost went into fine arts. The other four are in 10th, 8th, 5th, and my “baby” started kindergarten this year. He told me “You will miss me very much” and he was right.

We have three dogs, two cats, and one horse which we board at a nearby farm.

P.U.: Did you grow up rurally? Have you always loved horses?

Margaret: I was born and raised in a Northern Illinois (about 1-1/2 hours from Chicago) on ten acres.  We had horses, dogs, cats, chickens, a goat, and a HUGE garden which was the bane of my childhood existence as I hated spiders, weeding, and vegetables. 

My childhood was typical of the 1970’s - we were free to explore with very little parental supervision.  My mother always knew who we were with and knew what we planned on doing for the day, but we were little vagabonds, exploring, pushing limits - often astride our ponies, traversing hills, quarries, parks, railroad tracks, cornfields - riding until dusk.  The favorite thing about my childhood was the freedom we had really at such an early age - unheard of for today’s youth. 

"I'm the one on the far right, blue jacket and the 
"Dad, you're embarrassing me" expression."

P.U.: It sounds like an idyllic childhood, kiddo. Wow. Did you always dream of having a large family?

Margaret: I always considered my childhood family small, as our extended family of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents, for the most part, lived far away.  As with many families nowadays, I have continued that pattern, however, six children isn’t considered a small family.
P.U.: How did you and your husband meet?

Margaret: I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was out with my girlfriends having the time of my life. They wanted to go to a medical student party (one of my friends was a secretary at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford) and I had NO interest, but that evening I met a guy with a great sense of humor (and fantastic biceps) and well, the rest is history.

P.U.: Cool! With such a large family, have you always been a work-at-home mom? And are you satisfied with the amount of time you have for your 

Margaret's beautiful watercolor portrait 
of her oldest son

Margaret: When we first married and moved to San Antonio, TX, I was a secretary.  When I had my first son, I decided to stay home and raise our children.  John’s hours as a resident were long and arduous.  When we first met, we said six children would be nice, and then after two, I almost changed my mind.  Ha, but that was short lived.  Our third child and our sixth were not planned, but certainly wanted - and much to my surprise, I could handle it fairly well.  For a short time I had five children, ten years and under - plus I home-schooled.  After that, anything seems easy, I think.

P.U.: Home schooling  is a wonderful gift to those children, Margaret.  I really believe the flexibility, creativity and freedom for children to pursue their own interests is what makes it more kid-friendly than regular schools. Way to be! I know it is a huge job, though.

Margaret: Not surprisingly, I never have enough time to pursue interests to the extent I feel I have mastered them.  I always have doubts, feel inadequate, but perhaps that is just an artist’s nature.  I even hesitate to call myself an artist... I get all “squishy” inside, feel embarrassed.  Most people don’t know I have a blog, write poetry, like to draw.  Most know I take photos, but I bet many have never seen the images I take.  

My youngest son has begun kindergarten and I suppose I’ll have more time to pursue things, but I bet I will get busy volunteering in his classroom and spending more time at the barn with my horse.

My son and I walked today
a walk we mostly ran
and skipped
from place to place,
stopping here and there,
for no reason I could see
until he explained to me,
"I am a pig rooting for food
under every rock."

I nodded and said, "Of course you are."

And then he found a worm,
he laughed and shouted,
"Happy Pig Day!"
and off he went, galloping.

"Pigs don't gallop," I called after him 
and he gave me that look,
that look every child gives their mom
when she is being silly
and he said "That is because I am an antelope
running with the wind!"

I nodded and said, "Of course you are."

And he vanished around the bend
as I tried to keep up.

Upon him I finally came,
his hoof pawing the dirt.
"Why little antelope
are you pawing the ground?" 
and he lifted his finger and pointed, 
"I'm not an antelope,
I'm the artist who painted a blue horse!"

I nodded and said, "Of course you are."

And as I admired his creativity,
he leapt upon a rock wall

and opened his mouth wide.

"You are yawning, tired little artist," I said.
"I'm not tired!" he declared
stamping his feet, "I'm a dragon,
defending my gold"
and he stamped some more
and yawned...I mean spat more fire,
as he surveyed the land,
protecting his treasure.

I nodded and said, "Of course you are".

Then, into my arms he jumped giving me a hug.
"Carry me!" he demanded
and I obeyed
treasuring those few blocks home,
tucked him into bed,
kissed his cheek, and whispered,

"Sleep tight, my little dragon" 
and he opened one eye and said,
"I'm not a dragon.  I'm a
sleepy llama llama, home with Mama"
and I patted his fluffy head.

I nodded and said, "Of course you are."

P.U.: What a precious little guy he is! I'd follow him to kindergarten, too! Is there a special spot where you write? Is there a time of day that works best for writing?

Margaret: I do have a nook upstairs with a wonderful window overlooking the front yard, and I hope to use it someday!  But, I have a built in desk next to my kitchen and a window that overlooks the back yard.  It seems I am tied to the stove and washing machine for a few more years.  

P.U.: Your kids are multi-talented too. How does it feel to see creative talent showing up in your children?

Margaret: I will always attribute our family’s artistic bent to home-schooling.  My son loved to act things out, so I let him.  My daughter loved to draw and color, so I let her.  I put a strong emphasis on recitation of poetry.  History became an avenue to act.  We became involved with community theatre and we have never looked back.  It seems it was and is a “right of passage” in our house to be on stage - my youngest son at 7 months was the baby in Fiddler on the Roof and even I (blush) was Charlotte in “Moon Over Buffalo”, a theatrical comedy.  My one and only venture onto the stage, I’m sure.  

P.U.: Good for you, Margaret!

Margaret: My oldest son is a writer, a poet, and drama major, enjoying his junior year in college.  My oldest daughter is beginning her journey majoring in Scene Design.  The other four are in high, middle, and two in elementary.  My high-schooler is a very driven young lady, enjoys cross country, horses, debate, and theatre.  My middle-schooler also loves our horse, theatre, and her friends.  

Margaret's seven year old daughter 
did this drawing!

The youngest daughter is a “little mother” to her younger brother, hates the barn, and enjoys participating in community theatre as well.    My youngest son is adored by us all, but a sweeter boy is not to be found, so we haven’t spoiled him yet.

I am an emotional person, and am often overwhelmed when I see or watch my children perform. My husband also has been on the stage a time or two - but he is a ham, and loves to dress as a woman or any “over-the-top” character. Watching him conjures up a whole set of other emotions in me :)

I'm one among many,
middle school auditorium
squeezed in tightly
with anticipation
lights dim, room hushes

voices ring out

try to harmonize center-stage
the loudest note, off key
as young warblers part
for my daughter's solo.

The crowd fades as I
sit transfixed
as the soft light

her angled cheeks
and full lips
dances down her lithe form
fingertip to toe, arabesque
silhouetting her figure,
more hour-glass than boxy

as she sings, soprano
of love flirtatious
exuding confidence

and then
she blends back in
harmonizing with the other children

and I see her as if for the first time
still beaming, but now
with a tear in my eye.

P.U.: Sigh. So moving!  When did you first begin to write poetry? And what do you love about poetry?

Margaret: I first began to write poetry.... well, I can actually go back and pinpoint it on my blog.  October 18, 2010.   My blog started out as a vehicle in which to post my drawing and painting, but soon I started a photography blog.  Somehow I stumbled upon “Magpie Tales” and wrote what is still one of my favorite poems “Mother’s Pearls, Remembered”. 


Memories come flooding back
On the anniversary of my Mother’s death
Today as I place these gems around my neck
Hoping to feel her presence
Entertaining the idea of 
Replicating her elegance in me
Stillness envelopes my soul
Perhaps it will be enough that they remind me of her
Enhanced by her inner beauty am I
As her physical beauty faded with time
Resplendent these icons stood guard
Lustrously gracing my mother’s neck
Standing watch as she breathed her last
Reflecting her eyes, their bluish tinge
Every shimmer adding beauty to
My appearance this day
Enormous love floods my being
Memory recalling her wisdom and
Bright engaging laughter
Every life lesson learned I from her
Recalled in this ornament which surrounds my neck
Eagerly I approach this day, celebrating
Desiring the true beauty these pearls represent 

Quite rapidly, it morphed into primarily a poetry blog which includes my photography. I don’t consider myself a photographer - I really don’t know my way around a camera - my interest mainly lies in capturing “a moment” in the best compositional way I can.  Often I see a “poetic” image and try to capture that with photography.

I had no confidence to write as a child, and am quite shy about it now as an adult.  The internet offers a bit of a buffer for me, I suppose.  My friends and husband have no interest, and my son, who loves poetry, is off at college.   I approach photography as a means to capture a feeling, a “something” that often stops me dead in my tracks.   I often miss my opportunity as I worry about background, lighting, angle... 
I often thought I longed to draw, to paint, but something about the process of creating and writing poetry has me intrigued.  The hours I have available are limited, so I do what I enjoy the most, and at the moment, it is poetry.  I enjoy the challenge of finding words that caress an idea just so, to put a polish on a memory, or create something - or someone - entirely new.   I think most of the people who participate in these daily poetry challenges will all agree... it is somehow addicting. 

P.U.: As someone who is glued full time to my desk, I could not agree more! I love the way you bring your art and writing together on your blogs. 

Margaret: Just Horses started out as a way for me to connect with and follow other horse people, not to mention horse photography.  There is a wealth of constructive information out there about horses, and I have so much to learn.  I don’t post much there, but I do visit and follow quite a few horse sites.  Lately, it has become a vehicle for my “horse” poetry.  

P.U.: I’m intrigued by the painting and sketching section of your blog. When did you really know “I am an artist” ?

Margaret: Well, here is an example of my insecurity. I recently erased 99% of it as I didn’t like most of my work.  I have my sketches and paintings in a drawer and I am planning on picking up the pencil and brushes in the near future.

Poets United: Ack! Margaret! I've looked through your work and you are really good! (Check this out, kids!)

Margaret's sketch of Judy Garland. Wow!

Margaret: When did I know “I’m an artist?”  Honestly, I don’t call myself that, or a “poet”. I’ll throw a question back out there into blog-land.  When does one embrace the concept “I am a poet (artist)?”  I don’t, nor ever will have a diploma, and will not, for a long time, be well read, well versed in art or poetry.   When my children say, with pride “My mom is a p...” I shush them.  And yet... early morning, late at night, in between meal prep, here I am typing away.  I guess I consider it a hobby at most...

P.U.: Okay, kids, feel free to weigh in on this, in your comments! This gal has talent, am I right? Margaret, I am fascinated by your grandmother’s section, on your blog, Images From the Past,  with excerpts from her 1915 journal, (which is a treasure,) and some amazing old photos.  She sounds like someone should write a book about her. (Have you considered this?)

Margaret: Thank you!  The tiny journal and box of photos I have of hers is truly a joy, and my goal this year is to complete it by Christmas.   I wish I had been older and asked her about her life before she died. 

P.U.: Oh me too, Margaret! I spent so many hours with my Grandma, and heard lots of stories, but I now wish I had delved more deeply.

Margaret: I had no idea who she really was, what she’d experienced, the changes she’d seen during her lifetime.  I’m not sure I have enough material for a book, as her journal notations are very short.  But so far they have spawned a few poems, and I hope more will come.  

P.U.: Who would you say has been the single biggest influence on your writing?

Margaret: Hands down, my son, William, spawned my interest, and my greatest cheerleaders are my daughters.  My husband of 23 years is bored to tears when I read him most poems. Perhaps I should say, he doesn’t understand most of them - and when he reads me his medical papers, I’m asleep in five minutes.  To his credit, however, he never laments the amount of time I spend on a poem or any of my interests.  I will while a whole afternoon away at the horse barn when I should be doing laundry.

P.U.: Poetry seems to flourish where there is encouragement and feedback.  What impact has blogging had on your  poetry? Do  you write more often because you blog?

Margaret: I’m convinced blogging is the reason I have enjoyed learning and continue to pursue poetry.  Numerous times I have been sure I have no more poems inside me.  Then I will see a prompt, and the wheels start to spin... 
As a stay-at-home mom, I often found myself wistfully looking at others with careers and thinking I hadn’t reached my potential.  I can honestly say, I don’t feel that way anymore.  I mean, financially I am not contributing anything, but mentally, I am content.   On second thought, what would be the cost of a chauffeur, cook, laundry lady, nanny, and a call girl? (had to put that last one in :)  

P.U.: Absolutely! And don’t forget teacher, motivator, tutor, and nurturer of dreams! What plans do you have for your art and your writing, for the next few years?

Margaret: I look back on the poetry I wrote in the beginning of this journey and I often evaluate it and change it - and I think that is OK.  I have promised my children I won’t erase it like I did my art blog, though.  Looking forward, I simply want to keep growing, keep learning, keep sharing with the amazing people who are blogging now.  

P.U.: Number One on your Bucket List?

Margaret: Well, my number one desire has nothing to do with poetry and is a whole other blog, I suppose.  I have ramped up my workouts, but I have a long way to go.  I want to wear the same size jeans I did when I was 21 and jog a few 5K races next summer.  If this doesn’t come to fruition, my bucket list at this stage of my life is pretty simple:  I’ll settle for not having one junk drawer or messy closet in my house.  By the way, that’s what I’m supposed to be working on while answering these questions. 

P.U.: Great goals, kiddo! But isn’t a messy junk drawer mandatory? Any advice for other busy moms who are also poets?

Margaret:  Tip of the day - if it takes longer than a day to “clean & organize” - then throw it away, as there are better things to do.

P.U.: Succinct and to the point, spoken from an experienced and busy mom. Thank you, Margaret, for taking the time to allow us this visit. I know the summer has been very busy for you, and the beginning of the school year gets even busier, so we appreciate it very much.

[*note to readers: all photos and art work used in this interview are the property 
of Margaret Bednar}

What a fun visit! I so enjoy getting to know the poets in our community better, don't you, kids? Come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Sherry! This was fun and thank you! I do want to make a correction - I first started writing poetry October 18, 2010 - So for almost three years I've been scribbling :)

    1. Thanks, Margaret, all fixed now, though blogger and I had a bit of a tussle over it:) I so enjoyed this interview. As I live vicariously if, indeed, I live at all, it was fun to spend some time in your busy and very talented household.

  2. Just remember, Margaret, messy closets have doors for a reason!

  3. Margaret is multi-talented and an inspiration to so many. I am lost in admiration for the way she runs her abundant family, manages to write, takes time out to travel and get back to nature with her horses and her camera. This is a remarkable story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Margaret is a multi-talented artist, photographer and poet, and apparently call girl...ha, love that...and her blog is one not to be missed! As a work-from-home mom with kids of similar ages I am inspired by what she does. Lovely interview ladies.

    Oh, and keep the junk drawer! I know you are probably a few years out from having grandchildren, but Grandma's junk drawer is filled with treasure! :-D

    1. Hey Kerry used "multi-talented" too ha...guess I should have refreshed before I wrote my comment...

  5. Margaret! What a multitalented person you are! Thank you for photographs and poems and drawings and sharing your children's art (especially the scenographer's). Sherry, great interview.

  6. Margaret, thank-you for sharing your talents with the world! You are an inspiration to all of us. I so enjoyed this interview and realized I was nodding as I read because I SO related to your words and poems!

  7. I am always been awed by Margaret many talents & roles to boot ~ Managing a household and raising up those kids is a career in itself plus you have your children near you ~ Truthfully, my husband doesn't understand fully my writing but he is honest to tell me if a piece doesn't resonate with him. Do explore your other talents & who knows you can have a second career ~

    Thanks Sherry for featuring Margaret ~

  8. Wonderful interview, Sherry. And Margaret, I thought I knew quite a bit about you from your blog, there is so much I had not known. How wonderful to home school all your children as you have. I had not realized that you were such a good visual artist. That picture of Judy Garland is something else. I don't know when you find time to write with all your activities!!

  9. nice interview margaret and you said earlier you momness shines through...and its so cool your son writes poetry as have the exciting house is cool as well...smiles....

  10. Thank you everyone. I don't home school anymore. I sacrifice sleep a bit and watch very little TV. Such kind words and you all inspire me. Truly.

  11. I am properly blown away by the very talented, quite delightful Ms. Margaret Bednar ... thanks, Sherry!!!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Will try again........I have some cool things in the wind, kids. Am stoked that Someone has said yes to an interview I cant wait to conduct, and some other goodies as well. Stay tuned!!!! (I do have the best job in the world!)

  13. Impressive support & trust you venture with your children, Margaret. I could say you are an artist & a poet, so, claim it! smiles... I am genuinely touched by your piece: "Of Course You Are"... it's a gem to read & i can picture your son so well with his li'l feet. A precious moment & a wonderful experience for me. Smiles...

    Thank you Sherry for yet another inspiring read. I enjoyed it! smiles...

  14. Margaret it was nice reading about your blog..... I just wonder how have u managed the kids and the barn.... U have done a gr8 job and a gr8 life.... I can no where compare how you have achieved so much and with one son i am finding it difficult to manage... Nice meeting you and thanks for ur in put in my blog.... we keep catching up.....

  15. Lovely words and I am blown away. You are indeed an artiste and a two ways about it... :)


  16. Reading Sherry's interview is so rich an experience....Margaret's 'Of Course You Are' is a delight to read..some inspiring moment..

  17. Thank you, Sherry, for featuring such a wonderful person and poet like Margaret.
    I am deeply moved by Margaret's poem, "Of Course You Are". I think that's showing what a mother's love is, without telling it.

  18. Thank you all for your kind comments. I will be around to visit each of you but not until Wednesday evening at the earliest as my Internet service at home is down. Lets hope the repairman works magic!!

  19. No mention of Michigan?
    Tsk Tsk tsk.....

    1. Oh my goodness! How did I manage not to ask where your family lives, Margaret? Michigan! I hear only wonderful things about it. It appears many wonderful poets live there:)

  20. I've lived in Illinois and upon marrying : Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and now North Carolina. But Northern Michigan holds a special place in our hearts. Thanks, Sherry!

  21. Wow! quote a ride Margaret you are having and hope and wish you a joyous time. Glad to have known more about you here and those pieces of poetry esp about your mom! is a gem! Thank you Sherry!

  22. Margaret, your artistry is enjoyed by all. Your poetry is only surpassed by your kindness and support of all of us who are here enjoying your story today. You and the talented people above are why I still do what I do every night on this laptop. You all understand the importance of scratching that creative itch. Sherry you have done it once again. You have illuminated another gem. We thank you.

  23. Thank you. I really am overwhelmed by the kind comments!

  24. So wonderful to learn more about you Margaret. You are so incredibly talented and an inspiration to each of us who read and view your work.

  25. That was a great interview, Sherry and Margaret! I enjoyed reading the questions as much as the answers. And I so lovedddd your daughter's drawing!!
    Thanks to both of you for sharing the interview....

  26. Margaret is a talented and generous lady / she has blessed many!!

  27. Margaret is a talented and generous lady / she has blessed many!!


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