A Poet’s Job

Loss is always sad.  It is especially so when the loss is someone who was an inspiration to others.  Brenda Connor-Bey was that kind of someone. Brenda wrote poetry. She taught poetry.  She read poetry, both to herself and aloud to others.  Robert Frost noted that “a poem begins with a lump in the throat.”  So this blog of mine begins with a lump in my throat. Brenda passed away on August 18, after a long illness. She left behind a long list of friends and students to whom she had been a mentor and an inspiration.

There are some folks who may question why anyone would choose a career as a poet. It certainly doesn’t pay a living wage. Google prone as I am, I found an answer in a quote by poet Mary Oliver. “Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.” Brenda certainly made something of that. She was the first Poet Laureate of the Town of Greenburgh, a roster artist with ArtsWestchester, a workshop leader, an advocate for writers and a woman who simply had an amazing way with words. According to poet, essayist and novelist Audre Lourde: “For women . . . poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of light within which we can predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change…”

Brenda will long be remembered for her artistry, for her voice and for the legacy of her poetry which will continue to inspire us long after she is gone. Salman Rushdie put it this way: “A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it (from) going to sleep.” Brenda did her job well.

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