Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In Memoriam: Carrie Lee Clickard


Steve Corey

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.

AUTHOR'S PRAYER

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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Today's Little Ditty is on a summer hiatus. While I'm gone, please feel free to peruse the TLD archives. You'll find plenty to keep you busy writing all summer long. You'll find an alphabetical listing of spotlight interviews HERE and links to all 50 (!) of our ditty challenges HERE. You'll also find The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2014-2015, 2016, and 2017-2018) available in paperback and ebook versions on Amazon.com.

33 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Michelle.

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  2. I am so terribly sorry. Her memory and legacy will live on.

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  3. My condolences to you, Michelle, and Carrie's family. I know of her from her poetry here but didn't know her personally, which makes me sad. I will be sure to look for her books and read them. That is truly the best legacy one can leave in this world. Hugs.

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  4. Michelle, this is the post that Carrie would have wanted to read about herself, woven with a poem she loved, and tied with the true love of a friend. She was such an inspiration!

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  5. I'm so sorry to read this post--the kidlit/poetry world will miss Carrie's humorous voice, and of course the rhyme crime advice that she wrote for your blog. And what a loss to you of your friend. Thanks for sharing Author's Prayer, and for shining a light on Carrie.

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  6. Michelle, I did know Carrie but I can tell she was a friend as true to your heart as any. I am very sorry for your loss and for the silence of her voice. Luckily there are books and stories and posts to remember her by. And her wise and beautiful help. I am sure I would have liked her a lot. I am going to go and read her posts on your blog. I was very touched by your words and seeing the strength Carrie showed in her battle with the scourge that is named cancer. Prayers for you and Carrie. Janet Clare F.

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  7. I'm so sorry, Schmelle. She sounds wonderful, and breast cancer is awful. Hugs to you, my dear.

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  8. I was so sorry to hear about this. She was kind and talented and she will be missed! Beautiful post, Michelle.

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  9. What a heartfelt tribute. The beauty of her spirit shines through in your words. Condolences to you and her family.

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  10. I am sorry to read this about Carrie, your dear friend, Michelle. You've given her a wonderful thing that I imagine she loved, words from her friend. My sympathies to you and to her family.

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  11. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. After reading your post, I wish I had known her.

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  12. I am so sorry to read about your loss. My thoughts are with you and her family.

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  13. Oh, no! I only knew her a bit online, but what a loss for her family and close friends. What a beautiful tribute to her... I'm so sorry, Michelle.

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  14. Thank you for this beautiful tribute, Michelle. I wouldn't have known otherwise, although I remember Carrie's name popping up already when I was first dipping my toes into the waters of kidlitland. I'm so sorry for you and her family and others who knew her well...her books will be enjoyed by kids forever.

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  15. Such sad news. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  16. I am so sorry for your, her family's, and the world's loss, Michelle. Your post is a beautiful tribute to a clearly beautiful soul.

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  17. So sorry to hear this sad news, Michelle. I came to "know" Carrie through her posts here, and from reviewing Dumpling Dreams. This is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a dedicated writer, inspiring spirit and forever friend. Love and condolences to you and her family.

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  18. Oh Michelle, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know what close friends and writing companions you were. Sending love to you!

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  19. I’m so sorry, Michelle. Carrie sounds like such a special person and wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute to her. I look forward to getting to know her a little through her posts and books. Sending you big hugs.

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  20. I didn’t know Carrie was battling cancer - I associate her with an indomitable and uplifting spirit and a sharp, quick wit. So sad to read of her passing and of the loss to you and her family and friends. She will live on through her words and so many lives she touched.
    Sending love and hugs to you, Michelle. 🙏💕

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  21. I'm so sorry. My deepest condolences to you, her friends and her family. Sending love.

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  22. Dear Michelle, I bet Carrie is smiling that you finally "got" her beloved poem. It seems she left you a gift, and you've given it back to her transformed with this beautiful tribute. She will be missed. Hugs to you, my friend.

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  23. I am so sorry, such a sad loss, not just for those who knew and loved her, but for those of us who enjoyed and appreciated her creative works, too. I'm glad I was able to get to know her a little bit through her wonderful books. Thinking of you, and everyone whose world feels a bit emptier right now.

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  24. Dear Michelle, I saw this post earlier and didn't respond. I thought, "that funny lady? that rhyming, joke-making smart writer? No!" And, I felt that jolt of "don't want to deal with it....it can't be real if I don't look." But, it is real. I'm so sorry. Losing friends like this is just devastating. I'm so sorry for your loss, our loss. I'm thankful to have gotten to know Carrie here. She makes a difference even now.

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  25. I am so sorry to hear this, Michelle. Your post is a lovely tribute to your friend. xo

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  26. Carrie: remarkable poet, unbelievably knowledgeable in a plethora of disciplines, a superb sense of humor, and a very caring human. Her passing leaves a big hole.

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  27. When shining souls leave us no words seem big enough to embrace their being, though you've shared your friend Carrie well in this tribute. Sending you thoughts and hugs, and thanks for letting me get to know Carrie through your earlier posts, xo

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  28. Michelle, I'm so sorry about the loss of your dear friend, Carrie. I always learned so much from her posts here on TLD. Sending you hugs.

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  29. A lovely tribute. Very sad news!

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  30. My heart is heavy, I knew Carrie in h.s. We did u duet in our senior year. We kept in touch over Facebook & messenger, but she never told me she was battling cancer. I told her how much I loved sharing her books with my grandson. She will live on in my memory, always young & beautiful ❤️

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