This is the Death card from the Voyager™ Tarot (my favourite deck to read with professionally) along with the beautiful image on the backs of these cards, which is a cross-section of our DNA. (Death, it seems, might be encoded into our DNA ... inevitable. Or is it merely change?)
This is not the traditional skeleton figure of most Tarots (wielding a scythe or riding a white horse, depending on the deck) but it does show images suggesting profound grief, finality, and even a hint of terror.
However the Death card doesn't refer to physical mortality; it uses that concept in a symbolic sense to denote the death of an old way of life or an old way of being. Furthermore, the message of the Death card is Rebirth, Transformation. Any drastic change is liable to occasion grief, even when it is self-chosen. We must respect that grief, but we're not supposed to get stuck and wallow in it; we're supposed to come out the other side, into something new. Carrying on the symbolism: we're supposed to be reborn.
And so farewell, 2019
As we come to the end of this year at Poets United, we find ourselves facing the ending of some things about the way we have been, as well as the new beginnings that must follow. We contemplate all this with some grief for what is over, the realisation that such changes are inevitable, and the prospect of an exciting new future.
Above all, of course, we mourn the departure of four of our staff members. I've been researching our early posts for the little History segment I've recently included (see links at top of page). I've been here a long time but wasn't quite in on the beginning, so even though I greatly value Mary and Sherry's contribution to this community, I hadn't realised the full extent of it. Robert Lloyd, who founded Poets United, credited them with being the backbone of it when he was creating and developing it. When he had to leave his own creation after only a couple of years, he left it in their capable hands. It's they who are responsible for Poets United being the wonderful home it has been for us all over the ensuing years.
I came on staff shortly before Robert left. Mary and Sherry made this newbie very welcome and were unfailingly supportive ever after. I've come to realise that they have gone out of their way to encourage many members of our community who needed a bit of personal reassurance. (If you're a new poet starting out, or one who has worked mostly solitary before, jumping in here can feel daunting.)
Then Susan and a little later Sumana joined our staff, completely aligned with the values we already had, and adding their own unique flavours to the mix.
All these women have looked after us very well! The fact that each is a wonderful poet in her own individual style points to the diversity and inclusivity of this community – as well as its nurturing effect on our skills, allowing us to grow in our craft. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
I look back now and think, 'How DID they manage to keep going so long?' And doing such a wonderful job while they were at it! Much as we'll miss their guidance, we can't grudge them time to focus more on their own lives and writings.
It was fortuitous that Magaly and Sanaa had recently come on board, bringing enthusiastic new energy. Then we twisted Rommy's arm (very gently ... well actually we didn't even have to) and she joined us. All the staff, including those retiring, were unanimous that she was the right choice.
Onwards in 2020
In another sense, we're not losing anyone. Our retiring staff members are not resigning from the community as a whole. We'll look forward to seeing them around, just not in the same capacity.
We've been discussing various options as to who does what in future, and decided I'll stick to the Wild Fridays (where you never know beforehand which topic I'll come up with on any particular Friday) while Magaly will look after us on Sundays and Sanaa and Rommy will take it in turns to come up with the Wednesday prompts. It's always been the case that the Poets United team members have each other's backs; so if any of us has an emergency and can't do one of our regular days, we'll yell for help and one of the others will step in.
Our sister site, 'imaginary garden with real toads', was also started by Robert Lloyd and then handed over in 2011 to Kerry O'Connor, who has run it so brilliantly ever since, with the help of several other wonderful poets. I and many others have loved their very creative prompts and the high calibre of poetry to be found there.
Coincidentally that too is now coming to an end – not merely a change of staff but a discontinuation. Kerry has announced that the final post there will be on 30th December. 'All good things ...' as they say. I'm sure many will be feeling sad about that, me for one. I always enjoyed playing there as well as here. Many of you have done the same.
Fortunately the site will remain online as an archive. And what a wonderful resource it will be! It has already been a place I've liked to explore when stuck for inspiration. I'm very glad I'll still be able to do that for years to come.
(Following their good example, we're going to be getting our own archives into order in the near future, so they may always be revisited.)
We here haven't quite bowed out of 2019 yet. Magaly has a final Poetry Pantry for you this coming Sunday. Then it's holiday time until January 5th, the first Sunday of the New Year, when we welcome you back again.
Don't be surprised if you see some changes then to the way we look. We've been using this version of Blogger for a long time – and it includes some aspects that aren't even part of Blogger itself, but were brought over from a Yahoo group which our founder Robb Lloyd once administered (the precursor to this community). It's been getting rather clunky behind the scenes; time to update. We have plans to make it sleeker and more pleasing to the eye, while at the same time more navigable: more user-friendly for both staff and participants.
How ironic that at this point some of us (I for one) have been having trouble with the last Midweek Motif, unable to leave comments or access people's linked poems. I know several of you have been experiencing similar frustrations.
I fared a little better on my tablet than my laptop. On the tablet I can at least access and read everyone's poems. I still can't leave comments at the PU blog, nor on your poems if you're using Blogger. However, I have been able to comment on Wordpress blogs – so it's evidently a Blogger issue.
Neither Magaly nor I could find a problem with the html coding, the first place either of us thought to look, nor with Settings etc. We believe it's to do with some updating which we're aware that Blogger is carrying out at the moment, and will shortly be resolved.
Thanks for your patience, folks. Hang in there!
Note: Deaths and Entrances is the title of a book of poems by Dylan Thomas, published in 1946, focusing on the conjunction of birth and death. (The title poem and others reference World War II, which had recently ended.)