Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Book Review - May Sarton “JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE” A Look Back Jeanne Simonoff, Memoir and Personal Essay, Miriam Sagan, Fall 2013
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 22:23

When I was in my 40s or so I read this memoir. I thought about what it meant to be a poet, to make friends with words, to introduce them to each other and build a family, a friendship between them on the page.

I look at how important love seemed to me at the age of 40, or even 50.

I tried to find some commonalities between Sarton and me. We shared a love of animals, of toiling and tilling in the soil to bring forth new life. The annuals and of course the perennials of which I feel both Sarton and myself, among many, have in common. Year after year spent trying to coax love out of a relationship that is long past harvest.

I had a friend who was so enchanted with May Sarton that she read all of her novels, poems and some of her memoirs trying to find her location by the clues in her books. Eventually she and her partner at the time, Diane, did track her down in New Hampshire and did eventually even manage to meet her, to have all the books autographed, to establish some kind of relationship. But to have a relationship with, within and without, that is what I so appreciated in this memoir, JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE: her garden, the seasons, the cats, especially the cats. Her Journal was both spiritual and creative. This I can truly identify also in my writing life.

When something comes alive on the page and I feel it, I know it is true, it is like the answer to a prayer, one of putting together what has passed and what lies, hopefully ahead as a writer.

I found this journal of Sarton's realistic, real as opposed to some of her others, which were more idealistic. I saw the mean side, the loving side, a depressed and lonely side.

I try to take some of her words to heart, about love. Finding it, identifying it, and holding it true. A quote from her memoir, "The French have always known that our capacity for loving mellows and ripens, and love, if it is any good at all gets better with age”.

What the re-reading of this memoir has done for me is to confirm that what Sarton has written still rings true. Through all this time, my passion for poetry and prose has not waned but strengthened. That a writer can work in several disciplines, respect each one. Writing memoir, poetry, prose, fiction, and personal essay. She has done it all.

It helps me bear witness that I am not alone in a world of words. That one takes love when it comes and life is not based on being partnered but being true to oneself.  That it is important to live in each day and wake up with a prayer of thanks. I really appreciate your continuing to read my Jewish Childhood Blog.