Salmon Bay teacher wins poetry award

One of Salmon Bay School’s teachers has won a prize for her collection of poetry in her book, “Miniatures.” Meredith Cole Lewis, a 4th grade teacher new to Salmon Bay this year, has been selected as the winner of this year’s poetry prize for Marsh Hawk Press, the publisher.

Cole Lewis, who has her MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, says she decided to write this book of poetry because she’s always collected and made miniature objects, such as dollhouses, tea sets, furniture and animals. “To me, a poem is similar to a miniature in that it is a small model of the real world,” Cole Lewis writes. “A miniature is manageable to the viewer and challenging for the creator. It’s charm is in its tiny, yet realistic, details. That is what I do– or try to do– when I write a poem. I want to make something difficult for myself yet pleasing and disarming for someone else. I want people to say, ‘That’s interesting. How did she do that?'”

Cole Lewis lived in Japan in 1999 to 2000, where she worked in the Japanese public schools in Yoshida-cho Japan. She is half-Japanese, and says she felt like she knew quite a bit about Japan and the culture, but writes that the experience was, “very lonely, isolating and…magical?  I was left to myself, and my own crazy inner-worlds, in this beautiful landscape.”

She says the new poems are inspired by her baby, by being a wife and mother, and numerous other things: “…pine trees and pine cones; magnificent Lake Tahoe; by my aunt asking my uncle to make a ‘late afternoon fire;’ by a TV show about life on other planets; by real pioneers,” Cole Lewis writes, and the list goes on.

A review of her book says her poems are “an odd combination of understatement, inference and smart-aleckness. As the title Miniatures suggests, her poems are often constructs of transience and delicacy from a quasi-Asian tradition — but these values are also challenged and debunked by the wit and pragmatism of a highly American speaker.” Visit the Marsh Hawk Press site to read more about Cole Lewis, and to read some sample poems from her book.

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