For the month of July I would like to introduce
CELIA DANIELS & CYNTHIA PEDERSON
I knew Cynthia Daniels (before she became Cynthia Pederson) first, as a student in several classes at Washburn, notably the Shakespeare class. She was always an A student, and presented a collection of poetry as Senior Honors Project, which, somewhat revised, and with photography by her brother Kurt, another student, became one of the five manuscripts around which we organized the Woodley Press, and it was published as our fourth volume, Spoken Across a Distance--which has long been out of print. After that Cynthia, and then Celia, came on the Board of Directors of the Woodley Press for about five years in the middle '80s, which were critical years in redefining the press as the Woodley Foundation, committed to publishing poems, plays, and stories by writers from across the state of Kansas. Cynthia served as the first chairperson of the Manuscript Selection committee as we initiated a state-wide search for manuscripts, and then was editor of the first book published as a result of that process, Gene DeGruson's Goat's House (also long out of print). Then these sisters left the board and went on to other things (see below).
The two sisters have always been very close, and so it was no surprise when they published a book of poetry, Fissures (Singular Speech Press: Canton, Connecticut) together in 1993, each having written roughly half of the twenty-seven poems, but so muting the individual identities (only identifying the individual authors by initials in the table of contents) that you can read the book as the product of one joint spirit, or two spirits on the same wave length. I give you the paragraphs of biography from the end of that book (written seven years ago, remember):
Celia A. Daniels lives in the house her great-grandfather built in Topeka, Kansas. She holds a graduate degree in Museum Studies and Anthropology from the University of Kansas and is currently directing the public education program at The Museum of Anthropology at K.U. Her recent articles for children have examined various kinds of symbolic communication, including amulets and Zulu love beads. In addition, her poetry was featured in an exhibit Visual Ethnography: Art by Anthropologists.
Cynthia Pederson--also a native of Kansas--currently lives, writes and occasionally teaches college literature classes in Danville, Illinois. Previously she has lived on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, taught adult literacy at a poultry processing plant in rural Appalachia, and worked as a full-time elementary/secondary classroom instructor. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. from Wichita State. Her most recent publication is a text for teaching workplace literacy. She too was raised in a house built by her great-grandfather; and she has a sister named Celia.More recently Cynthia is primarily a professional writer, with extensive publications for both children and adults, who divides her time between "the quite loess hills of rural northwest Missouri and her sprawling hometown--Topeka, Kansas." She has also worked as an outreach storyteller and librarian at the Topeka Public Library, and as storyteller and workshop instructor at the University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology. She holds graduate degrees in literature, creative writing, and library science.
I will present a poem by each, but, in keeping with the spirit of Fissures,
not identify which is by which.
|AMULET||TURKEY TRACKS & CROSSED-LINE STARS|
|Soon after birth||dark walls|
|the life cord is cut||inside my skull are etched--|
|and swallowed by the beaded lizard.||deep images of running|
|Tied to the cradleboard||bison, wild horses|
|with swinging pendant limbs,||with atlatls* and spears following fast--|
|it crawls close to the Crow infant.||all disappearing into smoke|
|A seed bead tongue flicks out|
|to touch the tiny face.||my imagination fissures|
|cracking wide open|
|Days grow old.||and I see us|
|Counting sunsets||incised in time|
|she slowly||figures across a field of stone|
|loosens her hold.|
|Black hair hides||on boulders|
|a cradle-flattened head||the rock dance and we,|
|as the child plays among||strange spirit shadows,|
|sun-warmed rocks||are intertwined in|
|catching lizards,||sinewy arms and eroding legs|
|letting them go.|
|leave some mark upon me:|
|She guards the amulet.||a petroglyph|
|an enigmatic spiral|
|Tucked in||a calendar count of our time together,|
|among her bundles,||and I will engrave|
|a buckskin beaded lizard||inside you|
|still sucks||a trace of my touch|
|on a black and brittle cord.||*spear-throwers|
This book, Fissures, is available at the University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology Gift Shop, or directly from the authors, at <email@example.com>.