Friday, December 28, 2007

Call for Letters

Votre Vray – Living Your Truth, Your Way.

Call for Letters
Tell Votre Vray about your experiences in finding your “place” in the world.

  • Was it easy and natural to follow your life path?
  • Did someone dictate who you were to be?
  • Did you make several choices before you settled on where you are now?
  • How does who you are link to what you surround yourself with and your roles – such as your choice of living quarters, geographic location, job, race, faith, relationships with friends and family, sexual orientation, decisions about parenthood, etc.
  • If you could change anything about your past, would you? Why or why not?
  • Have your found your true self or are you still searching?

    All letters must include:
  • Author’s legal name, mailing address, e-mail (if available) and phone number for verification purposes.
  • Author’s signature and date written.
  • Acknowledgement form (attached below).
  • NOTE: All Letters MUST be received by February 28, 2008 via snail mail (no e-mailed letters will be read or accepted for consideration) to: 404 Capewood Rd., Simpsonville, SC, 29680

    Author Acknowledgement

    ________ (initial) I have not received, nor shall I receive, any remuneration (pay, favors, gifts, etc.) for my decision to write a letter for Votre Vray or its publication A Year to Save My Life (working title, which may be changed by publisher).

    ________ (initial) I understand my name, city and state, and letter (in part or whole) may appear in print in Votre Vray publications, including, or in A Year to Save My Life (working title, which may be changed by publisher).

    ________ (initial) I also certify that everything that appears in my letter is true and my own original thoughts, ideas and writing.

    Author’s Name (print) ___________________________________

    Street Address: _________________________________________

    City _________________ State _____ Zip/Postal Code ____________

    Daytime Phone ( ) _____ - __________

    E-mail: _______________________

    Author’s Signature: ____________________________

    Date: ___________________

A Year to Save My Life

Votre Vray – Your Truth, Your Way.

A Year to Save My Life

A Year to Save My Life is the working title for a memoir-in-progress by Mel. Edwards

The Good News:
Mel. Edwards, to the best of her knowledge, is not dying anytime soon.

The Reality:
She is, however, at a crossroads where she is trying to take back control of her physical and fiscal health, her mental and emotional strength and to allow her spiritual side to guide her life choices over her temperament.

About Mel:
Mel was born in Glens Falls, NY and has lived and worked in
New York, Arizona, Montana, Tennessee, and, currently, in Greenville County, SC.
She is a happily married bunny mama (to Poppet and Foofer)
and is also a writer, professional storyteller, educator and has several creative hobbies.


Tell Votre Vray about your experiences in finding your “place” in the world!

Why you?
Why not!?!
Mel. is an average, everyday American. She is the first person in her family history to go to college and to hold a professional certification. She owes a mortgage, credit card debt and student loans like many Americans. Although she’s a trained yoga teacher and has a strong personal spiritual faith, she’s still overweight, out of shape, unmotivated to exercise when she’s already worked a ten hour day (or more) and the girl just needs a hand up! Mel. knows for certain that she is not alone and she wants this memoir to be available to women who are in the same emotional, mental, spiritual and physical place.

Please see the Call for Letters for details and submit your 2¢ today! Who knows, you may get to see your name in print! Remember, every opinion counts and Mel can’t do it alone.

Thank you!
-Ms. Mel. Edwards

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mel Enters Contest

Well, I just put together my envelope for another poetry contest. These entries will go to the Poetry Society of Virginia's Annual Adult Contest. ( No...not adult material, just written by adults, ladies and gentlemen.)
I won't know until April if any of my entries have won, but I'm excited to say I specifically created four new poems because of this contest, and revised/reworked three others. I have one other entry I didn't tinker with at all, but it is one of my favorites and I'm too love-struck to see any wrong in a work I love. Ah, the parenthood of poetry!
Unfortunately, contest rules prevent me from publishing any of the entries until the contest is over. I did sneak in one stanza from my villanelle, and hope that my choice to do so doesn't disqualify my entry.
Wish me luck --
and to all my readers, I hope you've have had a safe, healthy and happy holiday today.
-Ms. Mel.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Poetry Villanelle

Students often do not know the forms and rules of poetry. This villanelle keeps to the rules of the form while also offering some instruction, a look into the life of a poet, and a heaping dose of fun.
A villanelle is nineteen lines long, 5 stanzas of three lines and the final with four lines. The rhyme is aba throughout and the first line of the first stanza and third line of the same stanza are repeated in set locations, as appears here.
I began this one last night and got up at 5 a.m. today to complete it. Believe it or not, for those of us who love to write, it is delightful to stay up late and then get up early to do our craft. (I'm sure my students would cry out that I'm a nut job for getting out of bed so early on our first day of holiday break just to write!)
I hope you enjoy the first stanza.

Poetry Villanelle

Upside down, dangling – me – hanging from the poet tree.
Hands do flit, grasp at sound. Toes? They tap the beat around.
I live cadence, lyric, free. Verse has meter? Joyous be.

[Remainder of Villanelle will appear after April, 2008, because it is in a contest and cannot be published until winners have been announced.]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!

Today is the last day of classes before students and teachers get a two week break from each other. All I can see in that unending little filmstrim in my head is the office supply commercial when the father is happily filling a large cart with back-to-school supplies and his son and daughter are standing there dumbfounded and disgusted. In the background is the song "Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!" as dad whizzes by riding the back of the cart with a grin on his face. That is the way all teachers and students feel today...and I bet there are more than a few parents feel like the kids in that commercial.

I wish all my students and colleagues a safe, peaceful and blessed holiday season. I look forward to seeing you all in the new year with renewed virve to get the job we must do, done.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Changeling

I often get my students to write their journal entries based upon pictures I've taped all over the walls of my classroom. One picture was of a cute baby but the florescent lighting of the room made her eyes look dark and sinister. As a result, I though we needed and "evil baby" story. So, I began this in class and shared it with my students. I promise I'll complete it one day and enter it in a short story contest. (When I get the time. Really.)

Kenzie, albeit with new teeth and the ability to walk and talk like a child way beyond her years, was normal as can be for the rest of the day and every day after that for a full week. The problem happened at night. Somehow, between the hours of ten p.m. and 5 a.m. she transformed or adapted to her surroundings in a way that any normal human child would not. The second day yielded another leg ringed like the a ‘coon’s tail. The third morning she woke with points to the top of her ears like an elf. On fourth she could jump up on the roof in a single bound. By the fifth, much to her parents’ dismay, she looked like a kindergarten aged child. On the sixth, she could run a three minute mile.
Her parents didn’t want the seventh day to come. But come it did, and on that day, miraculously, nothing changed.

“Even the Lord took the seventh day off,” Angelo joked.

Keisha didn’t bother to snap back. Tears welled up and she just shook her head. This was not the family they’d planned for.

Late on the seventh day, a stranger came to the door. She was a round little woman who spoke with a Celtic lilt. “Good day, dear ones. It has come to my attention that perhaps you may need my assistance.”

Angelo didn’t know what the woman was speaking of.

“You do have a changeling for a bairn, don’t you?” the lady inquired.

Angelo didn’t ask how she knew. At this point, he figured Jesus, Mary and Joseph were bound to knock on the door next. He just nodded and stepped back from the door letting the woman enter.



“Ms. Slainte, we are at odds.”

“As any normal family would be. Donna fash yourself, lad. I will tell you how to catch the Good Fellows behind this mischief and all will be well.”

“Good Fellows?”

“Aye. The faeirefolk is what you’d be callin’ ‘em. They’ve snatched your wee one and put a changeling in her spot.”

Keisha had entered the room just in time to hear the visitor’s explanation for her daughter’s myseterious transformation. “What? Where is our baby? We must save her!”

“Aye. If you follow my instructions you will. Don’t get your knickers in a knot just yet, Missus. If you do as you must, your girlie will be jus’ fine. More likely than not, she’s sleeping peacefully in the hall of the Elfin king. When she wakes, she’ll be in her own bed, none the wiser.”

“We’ll do whatever you say,” answered Keisha.

Angelo nodded but remained mum.

“Good. Then let us be started.”


Soldier's Wife

Not to long ago, I had a beau who was into medieval reinactments and the SCA. He had a lovely hand-made suit of armor and was going to an event where he and his friends were going to spar in a tavern. He asked me to go along to take pictures for their SCA website. When his time came to spar he got hit hard in the shoulder, and it dislocated, unexpectedly and painfully. Now, imagine us -- he at 6'2" tall, and I'm only 5' tall. I drove a Geo Metro at and had to gingerly get him into my car and take him to the ER while his armor was still on. This is a song/poem that I created after the event. (If you're wondering, he and I had already broken up when this happened, but remained friends, and he does enjoy the song.)

Soldier’s Wife

I was a lonely maiden
sitting by a lily pad
hoping and a prayin’
that I’d find a lad.

Along came a fella
in a suit of green
saying, “I promise you if you kiss me dear,
I’ll treat you like the queen.”

I didn’t stop to ponder,
for I found it grand,
to be living as a wealthy lass,
ruling my own land.

But it didn’t take Culloden,
or the Foggy Dew
to have me trompin’ through the field
pickin’ up after you.

On the morn you met your foe
you raised your mighty sword
your shoulder jumped its faulty ship
and then you cursed, “Dear Lord!”
The surgeon pumped you full of juice
and popped that bugger in,
but to care for you for a month or two,
that would do me in.

Aye, to care for you for a month or two,
THAT would do me in.

As a lowly soldier’s wife,
things may turn out so.
I’ve packed me bags and to the hills
tomorrow I must go.

Advice to all young lassies,
before I hit the road:
Sometimes a man may be a prince
but a frog is still a toad.

Aye, sometimes a man may be a prince,
but a frog is still a toad.


One of my long-time friends was my Dine neighbor in Flagstaff, Arizona. I helped her with her three sons when I could as we were both single and I love children. Her middle child was always very bright and advanced in school. Unfortunately, he crossed over unexpectedly this year. This haiku was written in rememberance of this young man, who would have been eighteen this year.


Snow in the desert.
Unexpected enigma.
Gone from sight – not heart.

Fortune Teller

I have a long-time friend who is able to see things that most of us cannot. For years I went to her for a reading -- mostly because I wanted to know if whomever I was dating was "the one" so this poem is actually a song I wrote for Peggy. I sing this in storytelling events and will have it for sale on very soon.

Fortune Teller

“Peggy, oh Peggy, please take this ring.
Tell of my future and what it may bring,
For I am still searchin’ for one love so true;
He’s not come. What shall I do?”

Liam, my fair lad, with curls all in gold.
Will you be my son, before I am old?
Babe, I dreamed of you somehow.
Go fetch your father. Find him now.

Guardian angels and loved ones dear,
Whisper the answer so I may hear.
Come to me in dark of night.
Tell me the secret. Make it right.

Johnny – or Willy – whoever you are,
Wishin’ for me on this mornin’s star,
I’m spinning my wool, here in my home –
As a good wife I shall not roam.

Peggy, oh Peggy, please take this ring
Tell of my future and what it may bring.
I am beggin’ ye Peggy and G-d above,
Fortune be mine with blessings of love.

Divine Light

This poem was truly written when I was going out for Sunday breakfast. I do a great deal of writing in my head as I drive. Luckily I've never been in a collision. I just say the words aloud to myself over and over until I have a rhythm and a few phrases I can remember. Then, whenever and wherever I stop, I write like made to get the basics down. I carry a journal in my purse that has a cover like an old pulp novel and have more notebooks and journals at home than I can count. A version of this poem is being entered in a sacred poetry contest this month. Wish me luck!

Divine Light

As I crested a hill
the morning sun filled my mirrors
and momentarily blinded me
from looking back
or even forward.
Awash in warm light
I felt
and acceptance
for my journey.

My shadow
could not reach me.
Fear was

Oh, if all journeys were so blessed!

Too bad…
I was only driving
for Sunday morning

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Vow

Before you make those New Year's resolutions and promises...perhaps you might want to reflect upon how you did this year.

"The Vow"

gulls on december fifteenth
skim the opaque sky of
suburban shopping centers
and cry their banshee death knell:
this year…
this year…

another sacred vow broken
to yourself, by your self
of your

three hundred fifty days
intentions failed to save.
on thanksgiving a tinge of
guilt visited
and overstayed its welcome.

next year.
next year…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

To Do List

Ariel Gore says that a woman never finishes her to-do list. Therefore, I've decided to rearrange my list a bit. The last item will always be the same: to die. That way, I'll live forever, or at least as long as I want to and rearrange my list. Here's hoping the Master of the Universe agrees!

To Do in the Next 6 months:
1. Survive the last three days of school before winter break with finesse.
2. Over break I will: a. Finish knitting at least one item in my UFO cradle (yes, my knitting is in a doll cradle that I've had since I was a kid); b. Type of my dozen or so poems I've written this month; c. Work on finishing the half bath in the basement.
3. Take a bubble bath
4. Watch a movie or read a book for the fun of it -- not for what it will teach me.
5. Send off a poem to a contest.
6. Do at least one other thing on my home-improvement list on my fridge.
7. Record some of my stories and songs.
8. Put our house on the market (Approx. 1100 sq ft, 3 BR, 1 1/2 BA, bonus room, new paint, new carpet, new fridge, new stove, used washer/new dryer and tons of little remodeling extras, .33 acres in quiet neighborhood close to I-385 and shopping, little ones can walk to elementary school all for $104,700).
9. Pay off our credit card debit
10. Finish (and pass with flying colors) my National Board certification portfolio and test.
11. Take the Principals of Learning test for middle grades (because some government yahoo says this test will prove I know the same stuff I needed to know to be certified to teach grades 7-12 but that certification will be obsolete very soon)
12. Get a body like Angelina Jolie
13. Write a best seller and get a big fat advance.
14. Write my will -- just in case.
15. Die.

See? It is that simple, I am very UNlikely to do #12 mostly due to lack of effort, and partially linked to genetics. #13 isn't very likely either since I teach all day and #10 and #11 will consume most of my non-teaching hours through the end of the school year. #14, if I get that done, I certainly can live for a very long time because the Reaper only visits those who are sick, old, and not prepared. Ha! I've got it sussed! I am immortal!!! (At least for the next six months...)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our World and Balance

Alliteration, consonance and assonance are often new concepts to writers. Here are two pieces from 20+ years ago that I share to get students thinking about telling their opinion about an event or object using some of these literary devices. (Yes, I was a typical teen who thought the world would go to hell in a handbasket before I ever reached 21 if the adults kept running things as they had this work shows that sentiment.)

Our World

Ticking Time, Changing Children;
People are purposefully paranoid through
Wild war. Stealing Secrets.
Painfully persecuted people
clicking clocks. Terrified Teens
spinning in Circular Synchronicity.
Looking lifeless, Feeling Frightened –
searching for a silent sanity.
Prostitutes prosecuting possible
plagiaristic paralegals!
And SUDDENLY a scream is
Squealing through their simple minds,



Tossing, turning, twisting, twirling –
My mind spins a bit more each day.

Problems, people politics ---
Never go away.

Singing, dancing, smiling --
Learning to play.

Ability to do so is a gift,
Some they say.

Being able to cope is a feat
of present and past.

No matter,
In this world,
If you are first ---

Or last.

(Written as Melissa A. Bentley, 1986.)

Nursery Rhyme

Students often do not know where to begin when writing. I show them this piece, written over 20 years ago, that began with a nursery rhyme. Then, encourage students to begin with a song or phrase from somewhere else as their jumping off point for whatever comment they're focusing upon that day.

Nursery Rhyme

Sing a song of no pence.
Pocket full of lint.
Nine-to-five on weekdays.
Glasses? Rosey tint.

When the lenses were broken,
the weens began to cry,
feeling they were born to
only to slowly die.

(Written by Melissa A. Bentley 1986)

Allow Me to Introduce Myself...

When I first appear on stage, in front of a new class, at a workshop or anywhere people don't know me very well, I begin with my no-nonsense introduction. It usually makes a few people laugh and then the joyous adventure begins! Ta-da!

I’m sassy, classy,
smart and free.
I see you and you see me.
I’m here
and now
I state my fact:
Story girl’s
been there,
done that!


I often wonder why I never get anything new posted on my blog and why my rhetoric seems so repetitive and tired after a day of teaching. So, one day I decided to write a list of all the things I say or think at least six times per day (and often more than that per hour). See if anything here sounds familiar to you.

Good morning.
Good day.
You’re late.
Where’s your pencil? Your paper?
Mind your own business.
Hands to yourself.
Get to work.
Be nice- even I fit hurts.
Make wise choices.
Open your notebooks (and your minds, please).
I’m waiting.
This is how it is done.
Try it.
You CAN do it.
Line up silently.
Quiet in the hall…or we’re going back.
Do something productive (related to this class).
Eyes on your own paper, and good luck!
Breathe. Don’t stop now.
Happy Friday.
Don’t make your other teachers crazy.

(G-d help us all.)

Maiden’s Choice

This is a poem one of my colleagues really likes that I wrote several years ago. I keep telling her I want to toss it away and she implores me to keep it. I doubt I'll ever publish it elsewhere, so for is "Maiden's Choice"

Eye- yigh, yigh, yigh, y- yigh, yigh
Eye- yigh, yigh, yigh
Eye, yigh, yigh, yi- igh, yigh
Eye, yigh, yigh yigh

Michael stands unto my right;
a darker one - the left.
As shapes form in this holy night
My heart, it gets no rest.

Me mother says that in each life
some rain is bound to fall.
But to walk this world, as Lot’s wife
can make a young girl crawl.

Where are you my lovely man?
Do you have another fair?
How I ache for your gentle hand
as I wait upon the stair.

Are you ill or gone from here
to meet our Savior, Lord?
Have you gone, out drinking, dear,
because you were so bored?

My mind, it is within a trance.
I think of what ma-ay be.
This once I took an awful chance
What has it now brought me?

“It brought to you, one man’s love.
It gave you cause to care.
But you cannot cage a wild dove
and keep it from the air.”

“Turn, pale faced, up toward the sun
and let the moon be-e past.”
Michael said, “My little one,
This first will be your last.”

The demon left my other side.
He fled into the deep.
“I vow to live,” my soul, it cried.
“Run my doubt, and sleep.”

“That was many years ago,
My man, I tell thee true.
An angel helped my heart to grow
And kept me here with you.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mel Edwards Wins National Storytelling Network Scholarship!!


Mel Edwards, educator, consultant and storyteller, is one of the selected scholarship recipients for the National Storytelling Network 2007 Conference. The conference will be held in St. Louis, July 12- 15 at Sheraton Hotels Westport and is entitled Reflecting Our Past, Creating Your Future.
Mel earned her master's degree in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University in 2006 and plans to become a full-time professional storyteller in the future. Attending this conference is a logical next step for her to learn more about the business end of storytelling and make new connections with others in the field.
Mel has been a member of National Storytelling Network for several years and in 2005 won a grant through the organization that allowed her to complete her master's thesis, entitled Laughing in the Shadow: The Role of Humor in Ghost Storytelling. The thesis has been published through the electronic database at ETSU and is available online in pdf format for the general public.
Mel currently lives in Simpsonville, SC with her husband, Brandon, and their pet rabbits, Poppet and Foofer. Mel is also a teacher for Greenville County School District and ITT Technical Institute of Greenville.