By Mark Squibb | Vol. 12 No. 14 (July 11, 2019)
Born and raised in Bay Bulls (in a house full of loud women, according to her author’s bio), April Harvey told the Irish Loop Post that her work is as much for herself as for others.
She just published her second collection of poems, It Could Happen to Anyone.
“Every single word was from me. And the joy was opening the box and holding my own copy, and going ‘I’ve done this, no one can take this away from me.’”
“If nothing else, if nobody else was going to read a word of this, it wouldn’t matter, because it’s something I did, and I have that to be proud of.”
It was poetry that gave Harvey an outlet when her sister Rowena passed from cancer in 2017, and those poems are published in It Could happen to Anyone.
The book is dividend into seven sections, each representing the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining depression, testing, and acceptance.
“It’s a journey of grief,” summarised Harvey.
“At any given time, we’re only doing the best we can when we’ve suffered a loss.”
“We backslide, we make mistake, and we get in dark places in our head. So, it’s what gets us out of that. Reach for the positive things in your life that will help you up out of that.”
“It doesn’t end on a despairing note,” she noted.
“There is some light there at the end.”
Harvey published her first collection, My Mother the Unabomber and Other Poems, following the passing of her father Gerard in 2012, also from cancer.
“This had always been in me. I had all these poems written. This was how I dealt with his illness, and his passing,” she explained of her first volume.
“There are so many people who have had incidents with cancer. Who know what you’re talking about when you’re talking about hospital smells, and how it never leaves the clothes you’re wearing, and how it just lingers.
“It gives a little relief when we’re in a world that doesn’t always pay credence to an individual’s feelings.”
In recent years, Harvey has put her teaching career aside to pursue her creative ambitions, which also includes creating the Feminization of the Norse, a ten-piece, large scale cross stich art gallery.
“I’ve always been into writing, I’ve always been into poetry, there’s always been a pen and paper in my hand,” she said.
“It wasn’t something that I was focused on any more. At the time I was teaching, and pretty much all my energy was going into that.”
She said that her earlier work tends to be more cynical (a product of growing up in the nihilistic nineties and the era of grunge), while her newer work is more personal and emotional.
“It’s all of you, when you’re putting out stuff like this. How else are you going to talk about things that are so personal unless you’re putting it all out there,” she explained.
“It’s your emotions. No body likes that word, everybody thinks it’s a cheesy word. But everyone should pay more attention to their own. “
“Poetry is very freeing. I think there’s a lot of people out there who write poetry and don’t share. When I was a teacher I was privileged enough to have some students bring me their poetry,” she continued.
“They’re so embarrassed about it. And I don’t know why they brought it to me to see it, but you just want to encourage people to write. If this is the only outlet you have, to let the world know how you feel, you are raging, or you are grieving, or you are ecstatic with joy. If this is the only way you can do ti, then do it all the time.”
“We have so many reports about in schools the things that are getting cut just for government budget sakes. The arts save people, just as much as sports save people.”
And for anyone, poet, prophet, or king, Harvey has some simple advice.
“What ever you’re passionate about, grab onto it. Keep doing it.”