Mary Kellogg has just turned 85, she has finished her third work of poetry – "How To Dance" – and I went to see her on her farm in North Hebron this morning to take her portrait for the book cover. I love taking Mary's picture. Mary writes by her desk in her bedroom, and I was touched to see the mirror helping to capture her joy in creating. The creative spark lives very strongly in Mary, it grows stronger and stronger as she struggles with the inevitable challenges of aging.
Mary lives on a remote hillside on a 30 acre farm, she loves every minute there, even through a winter as rough as this one. Members of her family, including her children, grand-children and great-grand children come up to see her often. She lived in this house with her beloved husband Dick, and she cared for him for ten years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She promised him that he would remain at home, and he did.
Mary and I became friends in 2006 when she showed me some of the poems she had been writing since she was eleven but had never shown to anyone, including Dick. She thought people might think her strange. She said no one had ever encouraged her before. I told her they were brilliant and I told her I wanted to publish them. Maria and I had just met and she agreed to help me, our love was forged in part by our work with Mary, it was the first time Maria had supervised a creative project, and we worked so beautifully and easily together.
When I told Mary we were dating, she said, "oh, good, dear, she's such a nice girl and she will keep you in line." So she has. Mary is precious to us, and we are thrilled that she will be reading from "How To Dance" at the first Bedlam Farm Open House, June 27-28 at Bedlam Farm. Maria is editing that volume as well – two strong women working together. The circle turns and turns. Several other poets will be presenting their work as well that weekend – Kate Rantilla, Doug Anderson, Tom Atkins. Poetry and art are the theme of that weekend, along with sheepherding and donkey-cuddling.
Mary is a born poet, a natural poet, it was so beautiful to see her at her desk and have the privilege of photographing this private, self-reliant person. She is a testament to the joy and power of creativity, and the need all of us have for encouragement. I love Mary and admire her, she will always be one of the most beautiful women I have ever known.