I have some sad news to share. My close friend Carrie Clickard passed away last Wednesday, June 10, 2020.
|CARRIE L. CLICKARD|
October 10, 1961 - June 10, 2020
As difficult as this post is for me to write, I know many of you came to know Carrie through this blog and would like to send your love and prayers to her family.
Earlier this year, Carrie posted a link to "Author's Prayer" on Facebook—"I'm developing a fan girl crush on Ilya Kaminsky," she said.
If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,
I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.
Continued below . . .
At the time, I didn't know what to make of it. Carrie would be the first to tell you that she was generally not inclined to read (or write) "serious" poetry. A poem about a zombie-mummy pas de deux, a martian lullaby, or an android dog? You bet! Rhyming picture books about mammoths, pirates, magic, and dumplings? Of course!
Two and a half years of battling stage 4 breast cancer can have a profound impact on anyone's preferences, but this one little poem on Facebook threw me for a loop. On the surface, the poem seemed to be about death (her death?) and I just couldn't go there. Because I was in denial, I chose not to respond to her post at all—me, her "serious poetry" friend—not a "love," not a "wow," not even a "like".
Now that she's gone, I regret that decision. I owed it to her to take a closer look at these words that touched her so profoundly. What I discovered is that this complex and thought-provoking poem is not really about death at all. It's about the power of language and storytelling, and what it means to be an author—a subject she knew and lived well.
If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man
who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.
Continued below . . .
Living life as an author means sacrificing your own ego to let your subject speak through you, even if that subject is dark and forbidding. Carrie was a true storyteller. She was grateful for the gift and respectful of the responsibility. All she really wanted to do (besides play with her dog) is write her stories. It wasn't a choice for her. She was haunted by these stories until they were released by the act of writing them down. Besides which, writing was the only way that she, their author, could find out how they ended!
Carrie was not giving up the fight. Not at all. By sharing this poem she was affirming that this was her journey. To experience the pain for what it was—it was something she needed to do.
Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking “What year is it?”
I can dance in my sleep and laugh
in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord . . .
Read the rest HERE.
After Carrie passed, her mother told me, "she just didn't look at the future in a negative way. When she got the results of the last scans, she told them she was not ready to throw in the towel. My daughter was never a quitter." Yes. That's the Carrie I knew and loved as well.
The cancer wreaked havoc on her body, but she also never lost touch with her sense of humor. About a month ago, she sent me a photo of the back of her head with one small patch of hair growing back. The subject of that email was "my new mullet." I'm going to miss that sense of humor. It's in every single one of her posts here on Today's Little Ditty. Her determination, drive, and knowledge of publishing markets was remarkable, as was her ability to offer astute career advice and constant encouragement in terms of my own writing. When I get my first book published I know she will be smiling and whispering in my ear, "I told you you'd be next."
Thank you, Carrie. I'll miss you.
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