At events such as poetry slams, Russell Simmons Def Poetry show on HBO, and even Eminems rhymin rap flick, 8 Mile, theres a spirit of competition among wordsmiths these days to become the top poet on the pile.
And while Eva Tytar of Mesick doesnt appear to be the super competitive type, it is true that shes a contender for a prestigious prize: shes been nominated as Poet of the Year for the fourth year in a row by the International Poetics Society based in Owings Mills, Maryland.
In fact, Eva earned the Editors Choice award from the organization for the past two years in a row and hopes to attend the Societys annual convention this Aug. 19-21 in Washington D.C. where the top prize will be presented.
Ive written all kinds of stuff for 20 years now but never tried to get published until four years ago, Tytar says. Somebody told me there was a poetry contest and that they put a book together every year, so I entered and they liked what I wrote. This year, there will be poets from 70 countries represented at the convention, including some Pulitzer Prize-winning writers. Its a pretty big thing they put on.
A cashier at Oryana Food Co-op in Traverse City, Tytar, 42, has been working in health food stores off and on for the past 20 years. A resident of Mesick, she is also a tie-dye clothing artist who has assisted Tye-Dye Tim of Kaleva for many years. Tims line of clothing can be seen at arts, crafts and music festivals across Northern Michigan throughout the summer.
I started out doing batik on my own and then began working with Tim, she recalls. Ive been working with tie-dye for about 20 years now. Last year we went to Kansas to a place where all the cowboys buy their tie-dye overalls. Theyll buy two or three pair at a time.
She grew up in the Flint/Fenton area and was encouraged by her teachers to consider a career as a writer. She earned an associates degree in English at the same college in St. Petersburg, Florida that Jim Morrison attended before joining The Doors in the mid-60s.
I did some writing in the same library that Jim Morrison used to write in, she notes. I thought that was cool, but I dont know if he was an inspiration because I was a writer before that.
Nonetheless, she says she enjoys the poems Morrison wrote, as well as the lyrics of songwriters such as Janis Joplin. I guess I was influenced mostly by the older hippies; not that the young ones dont have anything good to say.
Tytar finds most of her poetic inspiration in personal experiences.
A serenade by coyotes, for instance, became a poem celebrating the approval of a mortgage loan. I heard the coyotes calling one night and took it as a sign that they were happy and letting me know I was going to get my place, she says.
When her stepfather, artist Dave Holsworth, became terminally ill, she took on his hospice care. While easing her stepfathers transition, she was also inspired to write about his experience in the poem, Heaven Sent, which is included here. He passed away last July, but he got to stay at home until the end, which is what he wanted, she recalls.
Being a poet of note isnt a path to riches, so Tytar is looking for sponsors interested in helping her with the $1,000 or so it will take to attend the Poetic Societys convention in Washington (she can be reached at Oryana).
Shed also like to publish a book of her own in additon to being in the compilation the Society prints each year. I have more than enough poems for several volumes, including some that are still in my head, she says. The words just come to me -- whatever it takes to get what I express out.
-- by Robert Downes
By Eva Michelle Tytar
thousands swaying in the win
laughing at what cant be heard
even the ones that cant be seen
yipping in rejoice
theyre happy as can be
the howling of the coyotes
By Eva Michelle Tytar
as I watched the story unfold
I was told in advance of the events
that would enhance
as bold as a lightning strike
with as much precision and power
magical and mysteriously correct
sometimes a comfort to know
often times relentlessly painful
for reasons unknown
a path once traveled
revealed a quantum leap
from a place of knowing
to a place of trusting
with no choice but to go with
I have been given the chance
to see the process of the dance
not just the blur of the event
coming from a place beyond
telling of people who will soon
from the weight of the world to
that of a feather
they were heaven sent.