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by Cara Wheaton

I use my poetry now to tell old and new stories about my life, events, and people who populate it. The process becomes a healing act that helps make sense of it all and presents a way of coping with whatever comes next.

Atonement is a collection of poems written during times of crisis, renewal, awareness, growth, and redemption. It is the sum of a journey or of several journeys now completed and reflected on. My diagnosis of breast cancer, treatment, and recovery; my guardianship of my granddaughter; and the loss of a parent were the three most life-changing and affirming events in my middle age. They were events that threatened obliteration, offered hope of triumph, taught lessons learned, and gave a sigh of relief that I survived it all. For trails that challenge you, this is redemption. Atonement is the salvation of surviving the worst you could imagine and indeed experience.

About the Author

I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but I was born in Boston in 1949. I attended Cambridge High and Latin School from 1963 to 1967. I became acquainted with the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the fourth grade. He was my first exposure to poetry. After Longfellow came Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg (Wolf), and Adrienne Lynne while in high school. In 1974 I went on to cultivate my talents in the visual arts at the University of Mass in Dorchester and in 1978 matriculated at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California.

I began writing poetry in 1988. Prior to that time, I kept journals in which I recorded worthy events like the birth of my son and his development. In 1994 I left the Bay Area and returned to New England. I visited a cousin of mine who read me an epic poem written by her grandfather and published in the 1900s. It was the Genesis creation story in his own words. I was so awed, not only by his use of language in retelling this old biblical story but by his use of metaphor and lyricism, creating something entirely new. This became my inspiration for writing poetry.

(2010, paperback, 50 pages)