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November 1, 2014: Zelda Gatuskin's Humanist Essay Series has come to a close with the end of her service as president of the Humanist Society of New Mexico. Watch This Space for essays, poetry, rants, words of wisdom and more from our Amador authors and guest writers.

The following is part of the script from my presentation at the Amador Publishers Book Bash on October 19, 2014. Given the poetic theme of the afternoon, I approached my introduction to Amador Publishers and my Tribute to Michelle Miller Allen as a narrative poem. -- Zelda Leah Gatuskin

Lovers of Books

Part I
1958. A man named Harry Willson - that's the Scots 2-L Willson
That is, a very white man from Pennsylvania
Came to New Mexico as a bilingual missionary pastor for
Bernallio, Alameda and Placitas
He was not unworldly
He had studied at Madrid University
He was fluent in Spanish
Only, no one in New Mexico understood his Spanish Spanish
It was a struggle
He found a few kindred spirits

1965. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the clergy to Selma
Alabama to join the fight for civil rights
Harry answered
Harry put his body on the line for peace and justice all his life
He quit being a minister when they told him not to preach
Against the Viet Nam War
That's when Harry lost his faith in the purveyors of faith

Part II
Harry loved Adela
Adela loved Harry
They ditched the church, first husband, first wife
And combined lives
Harry taught English at "the boy factory"
Draperies By Adela flourished up on Fourth Street
Harry wrote
Adela cooked
Adela read
Harry raised at various times: bunnies, bees, and tomatoes
The tomatoes gave him the hardest time
Harry was the weekly garden reporter on TV
He was the local go-to guy for anything one needed to know
About compost
Harry believed in compost

Adela was deceptively domestic
Her wit had a kick, like her cooking
Only a fool said no to something offered from Adela's kitchen
Intellectually, she could keep up with the best of them
While passing around slices of
The best strawberry-rhubarb pie you ever ate
Show me another philosopher who can do that
Harry wrote and rewrote myths for the modern day
"A World for the Meek" was his Noah story:
The last human on earth finds his way to the sea
And discovers sentient life and a loving, peaceful, kind of kinky
Society of dolphins and octopi
"It's fresh and new and heartfelt and the world needs it,
And I'm not going to do it"
The literary agent wrote
"We'll do it!"Adela declared
And so they did.

Part III - Tribute to Michelle Miller Allen
1991. If Harry and Adela were my mentors, Michelle was my role model
She was getting a masters in playwriting and working as a paralegal
When we first met
Her book won an impressive award
When I read it, I knew the bar had been raised
Like: There was telling the story
And then there was Writing
It was not only how she wrote but what she wrote
Michelle was an artist - artists are brave people
I think there is no art that requires more courage than writing
Other forms take chutzpah, but to write with honesty and clarity
Takes real courage

This was the first great gift Michelle gave me:
I had asked her how she could write things so personal and intimate
She said:
Even the people who know me the best
Think the fiction parts are true and the true parts are fiction
So, what the heck!

The second gift Michelle gave me was to ask me to help edit
The Christmas Blues Anthology
It was the beginning of many collaborations
She thought I could do anything
And since I would do anything for her
I learned a lot and gained confidence

Michelle had many talents besides writing
She loved beauty and beautiful things and she made beautiful things
She was a romantic, a feminist, a tough survivor of personal storms
And a perceptive observer of men and women in relationship
She was clear-eyed about the risks of loving
And still she took them
She was rewarded with an epic love for which fate decreed
Too short a span: Rick Allen
When the Celtic warrior bard was felled by cancer
Michelle found her way to Scotland and stayed
While she was taking that Dunipace place by storm
And making them clean up their act
She continued in the literary mix
From Scotland she critiqued my book
Started a new blog, wrote mystery novels
And continued offering opportunities to artists
Through her company Green Phoenix Productions

It's hard not to imagine Rick and Michelle being reunited now
If your disbelief cannot be suspended such to take that literally
Then let us take it poetically
If we can quiet our minds for just a few seconds
We may hear the distant strains of the bagpipes calling them home

In Memoriam: Michelle Miller Allen


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