Those of us who enjoy poetry know Terri Kirby Erickson, winner of a Nautilus Silver Award for Poetry and other international awards. She is an extremely bright light in the world of poetry, and on April 3rd, she is hosting a launch party for her newest collection, A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53). “Like all of my books, it is an eclectic mix of poems with multiple themes, however the poem from which the title was taken was inspired by the Lasater Mill House in Clemmons,” said Erickson. “I was struck when driving by it one day, by the beauty of the light and the drifting clouds reflected in the lake beside the house, and the lovely swan boats bobbing in the water. This charming vista was so peaceful and serene in contrast to what was going on in the news at the time. When I sat down to write about it, the juxtaposition of world events and this idyllic scene is what fueled the poem and, in my view, makes it more interesting than a simple description of a beautiful place.”
Erickson’s writing is both powerful and influential. This strong impact is felt by the poet as well as her many readers around the country. “Poetry has been such a healing force in my life that I am eager to share it with as many people as possible,” commented Erickson. “Contrary to rumor, poetry isn’t just for academics. Poetry is light and warmth and communion, intended for everyone and anyone to enjoy!”
In addition to giving back through her words, Erickson is dedicated to giving back to the community. “This launch party offers a chance for the community to come together — to listen to good music and a little poetry, have some refreshments and mingle with friends new and old, in a lovely, light-filled setting. It is an opportunity for people to have a wonderful time, support the arts and donate to the very worthy Simstein Memorial Fund, a charity that is vitally important to cancer patients who cannot afford things like medicine, lodging, and transportation to and from treatments.” Ten percent of the book sales that evening will go directly to the Simstein Fund.
Erickson found out about the Simstein Fund when she started volunteering at the Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center back in 2011, where she met with cancer survivors, alongside Oncology Chaplain Joanne Henley, to talk about poetry and healing, and to do some writing and artwork to help express feelings that might not otherwise be shared. When her book, In the Palms of Angels (Press 53), was published that year, she told Chaplain Henley that she wanted to donate a portion of the sales price of every book sold at the book launch party to some sort of fund to help patients. Chaplain Henley suggested the Simstein Memorial Fund, created by the Simstein family in memory of Dr. Lee Simstein, a surgeon and philanthropist. It seemed natural to Erickson to partner with the Simstein Fund again this year, for the launch party for A Lake of Light and Clouds.
Ironically, Erickson’s husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, so she can well imagine what it would be like to not have the ability to pay for medicine, etc., on top of the emotional trauma of dealing with such a serious illness. “I am a believer in what this fund can do for people with cancer who desperately need financial assistance and am honored to offer whatever help I can in supporting their efforts,” she said.
Erickson’s A Lake of Light and Clouds has already gained a lot of attention, even before its publication date. “Many of the poems in A Lake of Light and Clouds have won individual awards, which is very gratifying,” said Erickson. “But what writers most want is to be read, and if riding around town on a unicycle wearing a red cowboy hat and a clown nose would entice people to read my books, I would no doubt do that, too! To write a poem is one thing, but readers complete the creative circle.”
The letters Erickson has received from people who have been moved by her poems mean more to her than any award, although it is fun for her to win them! “I enjoy entertaining people, or trying to…because it feels good to make people laugh,” she said. “If I hadn’t become a poet, I might have tried to be a stand-up comedian! I’ve experienced a lot of loss, hardship, and health challenges along the way, and the sustaining influences in my life have been God, family, friends, poetry, and a sense of humor! There is no doubt in my mind that laughter, like poetry, is a healing force.”
Terri Kirby Erickson’s book launch party will be held Thursday, April 3rd from 7-9 p.m. at the Historic Broyhill, located at 3540 Clemmons Road, beside the library in Clemmons. Special guests include musicians Lee and Susan Terry, as well as her uncle, artist Stephen White, along with the cover painting he did for this book (10% of the price to go to the Simstein Fund if the painting sells during the party!). The event is free and open to the public. It will include food and drinks as well as exciting entertainment! For more information, see Terri’s website at terrikirbyerickson.wordpress.com, contact Terri at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Press 53 at 336.770.5353.