A Journaling Journey

by Mary Jedlicka Humston

Mary and I both journal. In fact, I shared some of my journal entries in the “Oh, Baby!” chapter of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink (pgs. 55-60). I possess over 40 journals, most tucked away in a crowded, little closet in one of our guest bedrooms. I’ve been writing my feelings in them since I was 19 years old. It has helped process the multitude of experiences I’ve faced in the course of several decades of life. Special quotes and letters are also glued among my entries.
For many years now I’ve wanted to re-read them. Yes, all of them. So, I decided the time was ripe this summer. While I’m only up to journal number four, and have a long way to go, it’s been an interesting journey so far.

Surprises await with the turn of a page. A tiny paragraph about “jim h.” and how much I liked him makes me smile now since he has been my husband for 40 years. Names of college friends. Experiences I’d forgotten. Old songs important enough to write down the titles.

And, then there are the poetic musings. Some are actual poems; some just random thoughts. Several years ago I “mined” the first two journals from my late teens and early 20s and discovered quite a few old poems. I submitted a few “as is” and, joy of joys, they were published. Reworking others provided even more acceptances. Can you imagine the fun of still liking that poetry enough to send it out into the world?
One of the surprises was this phrase from January, 1975.


Those 12 words resonated enough that a few years ago I created two different poems from them.
Pirouette was accepted for the 2013 Iowa City Poetry in Public Project. These poems are placed on posters and scattered around town and displayed on city buses. At that year’s Iowa City ArtsFest, I had the pleasure of reading it alongside others who read their Poetry in Public poems, too. Pirouette was also selected as a “Poem of the Week” for the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) website. Mary and I are both members of this 120-year-old organization.

And, what an unspeakable delight to have it chosen to be one of the poems representing the UNESCO Iowa City of Literature for the “Poems on the Wall” in Krakow, Poland, in conjunction with the UNESCO Krakow City of Literature. For one 24-hour period, it was projected on a downtown wall in Krakow, alternating between the Polish and English languages. That in itself was amazing, but when a dear friend returned from a trip to Poland and said she actually saw my poem on that wall? Well, all I can say is that was an experience of a lifetime.
Here’s the other poem that evolved from that original phrase in my journal.
certificate with leaf poem.jpg
This sweet little haiku won First Place in a poetry contest at the NLAPW 2014 Biennial Letters Competition. What an honor!

So, it’s easy to see why I’m having so much fun this summer as I re-read my journals. Who knows what phrase or thoughts will turn into my next poems? I can’t wait to find out.