Pat’s Latest Book

from Oxford University Press

how the light

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Pat's poem, Barry Moser's illustration. Proceeds to AWA outreach. For the text of the poem, click here.

To hear Pat read the poem, click here.

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It was a wonderful celebration, and it put me in mind of what miracles can happen when a small group of friends work together.  This weekend Amherst Writers & Artists Press released our thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth books of poetry by poets who have come into their own voices over many years of participation in AWA workshops, trainings, and in leading their own workshops.  Ellen Summers’ chapbook, Spooner’s Cove, is celebration of the ways of water, in the human body as well as on the face of the earth. Poet Patricia Lee Lewis calls them a “gorgeous collection of sea-spangled, archetypal poems. The Glass Train, by Annie Fahy, is a full book.  Sue Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2003-2012, wrote about it, “The poems . . . are delicate, beautiful, clear as crystal but also momentary shards of glass that cut when they deal with trauma.”

What a bright, refreshing difference it is to work intimately with a group of friends who take craft utterly seriously, but understand that we grow as writers just as we grow as human persons – in an atmosphere of encouragement, experimentation, careful and constant learning, and belief in our own dream.

Years ago, when I was beginning to lead creative writing workshops, and without knowing it, building a workshop method that enabled, rather than disabled, writers, a poet whose work looked like no one else’s – brilliant, daring, her own unique voice, Sue Darling, sent new poems to her former professor of writing.  He wrote back, “Your poems lack discipline.”  I wrote a poem in a heat of anger.  After all these years, listening to these two newly published authors, the poem came back to mind:


Your boat, they will tell you,
cannot leave the harbor
without discipline.

But they will neglect to mention
that discipline has a vanishing point,
an invisible horizon where belief takes over.

They will not whisper to you the secret
that they themselves have not fully understood: that
belief is the only wind with breath enough

to take you past the deadly calms, the stopped motion
toward that place you have imagined,
the existence of which you cannot prove

except by going there.

~ Pat Schneider




11 Responses to YOUR BOAT, YOUR WORDS

  • Prema J Camp says:


    This fresh post reminds me that on McClellan Street you are at your computer joining thought, heart, experience, and passion to honor the authors of these new books and promote their now being a reality. I remain ever grateful for your being a hub of AWA publication activity, as well as other enticing views of writing.

    Your poem sparked my heart. I have lived the “they,” and I have lived the “have imagined.” This August, at 74 and six months, for the first time, I said, “I AM ME.” I felt the joy.


  • Helen Sears says:

    The breathtaking insight in this poem touches that shape-shifting moment we experience in every new phase of life, when the rocky path of learning suddenly gives way to sand, beach, and beckoning horizons of newfound understanding. Never before have I seen anything that captures these so well or meticulously.

    Your courage to go deep but also fly this high helps, heals, and inspires. Thank you so much for continuing your wonderful work. It’s a ministry to all of us.

  • Dorothy Goldstone says:

    This is my first time here — not my first with you Pat or other colleagues — but this page, and now it will have to me my “to-to” for regular inspiration. Prema and Helen say it all, so I will only say: Thank you, always, for lighting the way.

    Dorothy Goldstone

  • Anita says:

    Beautiful Pat. I can feel the wind, a calling, an unknown, and faith all wrapped up in this beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ngaire G says:

    Your Boat/Your words, was read out a womans spiritual gathering yesterday- staright off the internet. It resonated so much to most of us and answerd many questions that dont actualy have answers. Thanks Pat. Ngaire G

    • Pat Schneider says:

      Thank you for responding, Ngaire, and letting me know it was read out at a woman’ spiritual gathering! It doesn’t get much better than that!

    • Gillian Bell says:

      I took “Your Boat/Your Words” to our womens group because it spoke to me of how quickly my ‘certainty’ can become ‘uncertain’& that this condition is another opportunity.

      • Pat Schneider says:

        Thank you, Gillian, for letting me know you took it to your women’s group. I wish I could have been the little mouse in the wall, listening. Please give them my best wishes.

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Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) is the organization that is carrying on the work Pat established and carried on for more than 30 years. To discover how you can write with an AWA Method Group, or become trained as an AWA facilitator, please click this link.