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Cape Cod Pen Women Launch the Shared Art Project

by Christina G. Laurie

Art, Letters and Music.

These three disciplines make up the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), and are being combined in a special project by the Cape Cod Branch of the NLAPW this year.

Last fall, the Cape Cod Branch, headed by artist Suzanne Packer of Bass River, and president Jacqueline Loring of Monument Beach, set out to create partnerships of writers and artists. The premise was to create a Shared Art Project show to be held in the Fall of 2010.

The idea for this creative venture began in June 2007, when the Wellesley Branch members were guests of the Cape Cod Branch at a garden tea, hosted by Cape Cod letters member Christie Lowrance, in Sandwich.

Artists brought an example of their art and writers brought a short piece of their work. At the tea, the creations were exchanged. Artists painted or drew to a piece of writing. Writers took an art piece and composed writing based on their inspiration from the artwork.

It was very successful and lots of fun.

In Fall 2009, each of the forty Cape Cod Branch members was invited to bring a piece of her own work to a meeting. It could be a painting, sculpture, photo, or weaving for artists and a poem, short story or excerpt from a book for the writers.

They were then paired together and spent the winter working on a common theme. As the artists and writers worked together, the challenge was to find a musical person to compose a piece to the theme each pair had created. So far one group of three is ready to perform and a dance group is working on choreography based on several works.

A preview of pairs was held at the April chapter meeting at the Falmouth Arts Guild. Six pairs of artists and writers presented their work. They came to the meeting with two pieces of art: the original work from last fall and the newly inspired work.

Carolyn Partan, the President of the Board at the Falmouth Artists Guild, welcomes the Cape Cod Chapter of the NLAPW to the Falmouth Art Center.
Carolyn Partan, the President of the Board at the Falmouth Artists Guild, welcomes the Cape Cod Chapter of the NLAPW to the Falmouth Art Center. Photography by Jackie M. Loring.

Joyce Utting Schutter, of Sandwich, created a painting illustrating Christina Laurie's prize winning poem, Winter Night.

The project continues, and the Cape Cod Branch is seeking more members to participate, For more information, please call president Jacquie Loring at 508-542-2013, vice president and membership chair Rev. Christina Laurie at 508-540-0762, or Suzanne Packer, secretary, at 508-398-1576.

The NLAPW, a 501(c)3 group, is the oldest women's arts organization in America, featuring all the arts of letters, music and visual art. The focus is on professional creativity and growth in one's own area of expertise.

Founded in 1897, NLAPW's purpose was to establish a progressive press union for the female writers of Washington, DC. Artists and composers joined their literary sisters by the mid-1920s, including prominent professional women such as Vinnie Ream, who sculpted the Lincoln statue standing in the Capital rotunda.

Other famous members include Eudora Welty, Amy Beach, Dale Evans Rogers, Gloria Vanderbilt, Edith Whatron, Julie Harris, Helen Keller and Carrie Jacobs Bond. First lady members include Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis.

The next meeting of the Cape Cod Branch is on Sunday, June 27, from 1-3 p.m. in Sandwich. This meeting is also the annual membership tea. More pairs will share their projects at this time.

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Winter Night

by Christina G. Laurie

Cold as the nose of a snowplow
dark as Gran'ma's attic corner
night crept over the village.
The platter of a moon
brighter than 100 years
slipped from behind a cloud.

The crisp wind,
working overtime
to clean up the whole village,
stretched its long, icy fingers
to polish the Advent star
atop the Commons Christmas tree.

Beyond the hill
a thin curl of smoke
wound out of the snow-covered
Outlined in firelight
three noses pressed
to the steamy window.
They peered at the cars
resting under their meringues
as swirls of lace whipped
across the misshapen yard.

A fence rail
staggered down the steep hill
knee high in drifts,
and every branch of every tree
wore its glistening sleeve of
frozen snow.


encaustic on wood
by Joyce Utting Schutter

The Price of Love, the Cost of Hope

by Christie Palmer Lowrance
Written in response to the painting New Arrivals by Elizabeth Moisan

The feel of your fine hair stays with me
Years after I lost sight of you disappearing
Into the crush of people on the ship,
Finding your place there as I lost mine.
On sleepless nights my hands recall
The shape of your small shoulders,
The grip of your able hands,
But even now I can scarcely bear
To remember looking for the last time
Into your sweet face,
My fear so high and strong
I couldn't breathe.
Come back, come back, my heart begged.
Don't go, don't leave your home,
Don't leave me.
You take with you everything I live for.
What will I do without you, my daughter?

But I have learned and lived the answer to that question
And now my heart supplies what my eyes cannot,
For my heart's eyes see you before me,
Clear as a sunrise, dear as a songbird on a branch,
Sun on your rich brown hair, neat and hatless,
Your warm shawl wrapped around your shoulders,
Your dress we made together for this journey,
I see the boys, their clothes clean and mended,
Taller of course, bigger, stronger, like you.
I see your hands joined like the roots of a tree,
And I see your face, dearest child of mine,
Filled with happiness and determination.
I see the price of love,
I know the cost of hope.

Christie Lowrance reflects on her creative process
in writing her response to New Arrivals:

I couldn't have been more surprised by this poem. Initially, I anticipated writing about the feelings and thoughts of an immigrant woman, her courage, fear, anxiety, and excitement, and her hopes and fears for her sons.

But when the composing began, I could only detect the thoughts of an older woman, a mother, not a daughter, and viscerally felt her crushing sense of loss. Moved by something inexplicable in Liz Moisan's exquisitely fresh and tender painting, I wept outright as I put the poem together, and later thought that art, of any kind, trains us to accept such moments that defy reason and analysis. It requires us to be grateful, not afraid or suspicious, of the creative process.

New Arrivals
New Arrivals, watercolor, by Elizabeth Moisan
Christina Laurie

Christina G. Laurie is an award winning poet and a "master at haiku". Her poems have appeared in magazines and periodicals in the US, Canada, England and Japan.

Born in Worcester, she raised a family in the Boston area and retired to Cape Cod, where she swims, golfs, bikes, and kayaks. A retired minister, she is a National Officer of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. She is also a past president of both the Wellesley and Cape Cod branches of NLAPW.

Christina recently received several prizes for her poetry. Her "Winter Night" won first prize in a national competition at the biennial conference of the National League of American Pen Women held in Little Rock, AK, in April.

Her eight-line poem, "Dessert Musician" captured first prize in a contest for short messages on postcards to service men and women in Asia, a national contest run by the Chester County, PA, Branch, NLAPW.

She also won first prize in a Haiku contest run by the Cape Cod Branch of the NLAPW to provide scholarships for two youths to attend the Cape Cod Writers Center "Young Writers Conference" this August.

View her website: Read her Thursday blog:

Author of the recently published Seasons Rising: A Collection of Haiku, three children's books, a memoir, a YA ghost story, and two biblical profile books, Christina is presently working on a murder mystery. She can be reached