I am Margaret Goka, a writer, retired teacher and grandmother. My book contains poems from the early years of my marriage to the present. I found similar poems to group together, and as the number of poems I wrote grew, I saw the possibility of presenting them in a book.
I enjoyed writing poems and stories when I was a child and teenager at home in Maryland. I grew up in suburbia with two brothers and parents who were scientists. I moved to St. Louis, Missouri to attend Washington University. After I finished an undergraduate degree, I stayed in St. Louis to teach at a Community College, get married, and have my first daughter. My new family soon moved to California where I have spent the rest of my life. Here I had two more daughters and completed a Masters Degree in Linguistics which enabled me to become an English as a Second Language teacher working largely with Vietnamese refugees and other ESL learners.
Whenever possible I have stepped back from my life and written poems about my children, pets, places, family, questions, and sources of inspiration. When I retired I decided to compile the poems I had accumulated, sort them, and arrange them in a book.
I am also active as a volunteer and grandmother, and enjoy making jam from the fruit trees in my back yard. I belong to a book club whose members have patiently listened to me read some of my poems aloud. I am grateful for my friends, my cat, and my family.
The Woven Flag is about the life I wove out of children, pets, remembered places, questions, inspiration and family. I celebrate the “happy quiet” when my children were asleep. I envy hummingbirds “always flying where the world blooms” and also recall my mother “inside her blue cloud . . . in her place, smoking.”
Instead of writing a story, I have written poems. I included most of my writing from the last fifty years in this work.
I arranged my book, The Woven Flag, to open with poems written by a young mother. I celebrate my children, comparing them to flags. I muse about each of my daughters, laud the free time when they go to school, and note the challenges of sleeping when your children are young. I write a “report” on the children’s play at church and I conclude the first section with thoughts about bonding.
The subject of the second section is pets and other animals. I praise cats, admire the life of a hummingbird, and daydream about a cow in my back yard.
In “Places” you can read about where I lived as a student, where I spent free time during a summer job, my “home” in the library, and a comparison of my current home in California to Eden.
“Riddles” is the next section where I tease, ask “Am I worth what I owe?” and paint a word picture of a rose and the pictures behind it. I ask my partner why we do not celebrate the equinox. I also write about grief in sympathy for a friend who lost her child.
This poetry was sometimes inspired by wine or caffeine. A few poems explore these effects, as well as the dryness of drought.
The concluding section of poems is about family. Some are about my parents and one compares how life unravels just as time unravels cloth. I sketch the picture I always remember of my mother smoking by the window. I list the familiar activities I have promised to do and ask my husband to break his silence and speak to me. The last poem is about the work to become whole.
Q & A
- What inspired you to write your book?
I wrote The Woven Flag one poem at a time hoping to capture thoughts, places, and relationships that had meaning for me so that I could remember and share them.
- What was the most challenging part of writing your story?
The biggest challenge was making time to write, reread, and rewrite my ideas, especially during the years when I had children at home.
- Why did you decide to self-publish?
I decided I wanted to self-publish when I retired from teaching and had time to spend on collecting and polishing my poems.
- What is your advice to up and coming authors?
My advice is to let your writing accumulate. Come back to it after it has had time to rest, and read it as if you had never read it before, to see if it gets across your ideas to other people. Rewrite parts that are not clear. Ask friends to read it and make comments. Add more writing if you find a theme that is not developed enough.
- How was your experience with BookVenture?
I am very happy with the cover Book Venture designed for my book. Book Venture has done what they promised, and been good about keeping in touch with me, and explaining things I did not understand.
- Were you satisfied with the outcome of your book?
I was satisfied with the way the book turned out.
- Would you recommend our services to fellow authors?
I would recommend Book Venture to other authors.