Though born Carol Mae Ray in Miami, Florida, and, though I still love the sight of green fronds waving in a breeze against an azure sky, I am a transplanted New Englander now. I live a busy retired life in Rhode Island under the name Carol Anderheggen.
In addition to writing and publishing in journals nationwide, I have also published two chapbooks, Writing Down Cancer andBorn-Child, both published by Finishingline Press. I have been writing since I was eight when I wrote my first poem, about the color blue, which is still my favorite color!
Why do I write poetry? Because I had to in order to feel alive. Because I suffered serious traumas as a child, being a foster child from the moment I was born. Because I was wrenched from the only love I ever felt as a child when the State of Florida sent me from that wonderful foster home to an orphanage in Jacksonville where I languished for months until a couple from Rhode Island took me out for a coca-cola and interviewed me. When asked if I wanted to have them as parents, of course I said "yes." I wanted out of that orphanage.
Unfortunately for me I was told to forget my first eight years. "You have a new life now." That was the extent of "counseling" given in 1948. My new parents were told nothing about my background except to be told that my biological mother had gone to college and I had the capability to do so. Also, unfortunately for me the state of Rhode Island forced these new parents to buy a house despite the fact that they were a Naval couple and had always traveled together to their assignments. This led to an adoptive mother, who being left alone with a child she clearly resented, turned to alcohol for solace.
I turned to poetry and and a love of words for solace. I found a lovely old anthology of British poetry called Palgrave's Golden Treasury on their bookshelf which introduced me to English poetry. The King James version of the Bible, with its immeasurably beautiful language, reinforced my love of words and lyrical writing. What's not to love in this: "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
By age 19 I was a college junior, married and pregnant. Suffice it to say these years added to the PTSD which was my entire life to that point. My two daughters had difficult childhoods as I struggled to be an independent woman, earning my way as a teacher, a feminist and all round maverick. The latter descriptor, maverick, made working in a public junior high school in rural Rhode Island a challenge.
Through my early adulthood I wrote poetry to keep myself alive, despite the ongoing PTSD I developed as a result of my early childhood and adoption. Years of good therapy and use of innovative treatments has enabled me to become a whole resilient person with far less anger toward life and people. This same therapeutic work enabled me to navigate a diagnosis of breast cancer in 1990. My chapbook, Writing Down Cancer, chronicles that journey of dreams and nightmares.
Twenty-eight years of working as a library media specialist prepared me for a second career: American Red Cross volunteer and then employee. You might wonder what a poet is doing for the Red Cross—I enlist my “left brain” computer talents in helping to install and support technology on their responses. And, yes, I was in NYC by September 13th, 2001 where I worked my heart out for two months. I remain a volunteer as Red Cross is a calling that I need in my life.
My poetic self found a home at The Frost Place, Franconia, NH where I worked on the staff of The Frost Festival of Poetry for many summers. Now, my second poetry "home" is being a member and webmaster for the Ocean State Poets, a Rhode Island group of poets dedicated to bringing poetry to unserved and underserved venues, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community service classrooms.
If you find my story compelling, please go to the POEMS section of this website to try out my writing. If you would like to receive a new poem You can sign up in the NEW POEMS section. If you want to correspond with me: firstname.lastname@example.org