“A woman with a pen is a dangerous thing.” – Margo LaGattuta


Photo: Margo LaGattuta 1942 – 2011

I have been blessed with wonderful writing teachers. You’re sure to hear of each of them, in time, but this first blog post is to honor one of them, Margo Lagattuta. Margo died a couple of weeks ago, in northern Michigan. Fifteen years ago when I took her summer poetry classes, she left her mark. Margo was a bold teacher, who dressed in “artsy” clothes that I would never dare to wear. She invited us out on a limb as we “fooled with words” and dared to read aloud in class.

Poetry, according to Margo, was intended to be read aloud, and slowly, preferably twice.

Over the years, Margo wrote a column for the local newspaper in my hometown. Every so often, my mom would cut out one of her pieces and mail them to me. I continued to enjoy her words as she lamented the decline of cursive writing and celebrated the joy of frogs.

She often taught of the freedom to be found in form and structure when writing poetry. We worked our way through pantoums, sestinas, and villanelles – and the truth is, I really struggled with these last two. The rhyme schemes, meter, and repetitions escaped me until the last couple of months, when I actually was able to come up with a proper vilanelle.

And so I share it here, with belated thanks to Margo.

Freedom in strucure, freedom in form. An important lesson, indeed.



Now is my time to be alive!
Lift my eyes, enjoy the view,
Not just to exist – but truly to thrive!

My spirit and my strength reborn, revived,
I do what I need and want to do.
Now is my time to be alive!

To live is more than to simply survive.
Explore this existence and all that is new,
Not just to exist, but truly to thrive!

Victory mine, no longer deprived!
Embrace the blessing of each day anew.
Now is my time to be alive!

Breathe deep with gratitude, focus and drive
And clear vision of where I am headed to,
Not just to exist, but truly to thrive!

Success as every day arrives,
Learn who I am – go deep and speak true.

Now is my time to be alive,

Not just to exist, but truly to thrive

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