Witt Wittmann retired in 2006 from thirty years of teaching English. She is now the editor for a small publisher, the poetry director for SplashHall Poetry Community Boards, and co-editor for Rollin' Thunder Poetry Blog. She is an accomplished artist and an award-winning writer. Her art of tatting, a form of lace, is exhibited at the South Carolina Artisan Center as well as The Pickens County Museum. She has been published in the International Old Lacers magazine, The Bulletin, in addition to having two books published: TatWitt: What I Learned When I Learned to Tat (Union County Writers Press, 2002) and Musing at La Poulaille (D-N P, 2003). Wittmann illustrated the books The Prince with the Golden Hair by Irene Honeycutt (D-N P, 2006) and The Last Hurrah by Robert W. Hinson (D-N P, 2005). Now that she has retired, Wittmann can devote her time to the things that she loves best: art and writing, not to mention gardening and chickens.
Poetry is like a flower garden. No two are alike. Some are formal and pristine; others are wild with abandon. Take for example the parterres. Be they designed as circular, rectangular, or in a diamond shape, the formal garden is clipped to perfection, and every plant is sited with exact symmetry. The borders are outlined with perhaps germander precisely trimmed to a certain height. The circuitous paths are orderly with not one pebble out of placeeach stepping stone specifically placed. Identical boxwoods are strategically positioned as focal points. The pattern of the parterres is extremely particular in its placement of shrubs and a modest display of a few flowers chosen to be exhibited as specimens never in great profusion. In the center is placed a fountain, statue, or topiaryevery item is structured and elaborate. These plants are chosen for their variance in hues of greens, their textures, growing habits, and even aroma. The flowers muted and tasteful were used to enhance the pattern. The beauty of the design, and the care that it took to create this masterpiece at once takes in the onlooker filling his soul with pleasure.
The cottage garden, on the other hand, has no formality. Flowers are placed where there is room to put them. No structure binds the gardener’s creativity. The borders of the garden are freeform and flow freely. Flowers are chosen for their vibrant colors and not necessarily flowers that complement one another. Volunteers are allowed to sprout wherever they have the sunlight and the desire to grow causing the heights to vary as well as the combinations of color. There is usually an abundance of vegetation seeming to have a will of its own. These types of gardens are fun and give the viewer joy as well causing delight to the spirit and senses.
As in every garden, weeds do creep in destroying its beauty. The gardener must try to pull out these aversions so that they do not sap the energy away from the splendor. So, too, the poet should take great care with the diction that he chooses so that he does not weaken his own garden of words. A gardener would not deliberately foul his land with briars and other disagreeable things. Why then should the poet?
Why do people create these forms of art? It could be simply because they feel like it. It is a way to express their feelings and by expressing their feelings, they feel better. The gardener may derive enjoyment from the pure physical labor that he must endure to construct his treasurethe poet, the mental exercise. Work and exercise is good for us and makes us feel better. The happiness possibly comes from the catharsis of pouring out his sweat through his effort then he can sit back and relish his accomplishment. Perhaps he has the desire to please others and savors what others appreciate about his interpretation. Whatever the reason, parterres, cottage gardens, and poetry have been around for centuries and will surely continue through the future. There is a personal gratification for the one who produces and also for the one who comprehends.
Poetry is like a flower garden no matter what the style or structure may be. Sometimes the words are precise and laid out with a particular pattern, and other times the words are thrown out like seeds in the breeze. Either way, a poem may capture our hearts and touch us deeply. A poem may bring a tear to our eye and conjure reminiscences that we hold dear. At other times a poem can make us titter with glee or even laugh out loud. Poems are our little private plots, meaningfully scratched out, of an inherent need to be in touch and to touch.