EDITOR'S SPOTLIGHT - Meredith Caldwell's "Crape Myrtle"
Meredith Caldwell is an 18 year old from Texas. She teaches art to elementary students, sells paintings, and plays guitar outside of school. Her poem "Crape Myrtle" was published by The Weight Journal in April of 2021. Below are the thoughts of one of our editors on this poem, and an interview with Meredith Caldwell.
I love the tension in this poem -- so specific to this mother-daughter pair, but so accessible to other mothers and daughters. From the static in the phone call transforming to a static life, to the poet’s realization that any change on her part must necessarily disappoint her mother, this poem is deeply familiar.
I really admire the touches of nature grounding us in the world of the poem. The mother’s desire for oak trees: stability, dependability, a legacy that will continue. The titular crape myrtle: sickly and no longer growing, more of a shrub than a tree, nothing that grandchildren could climb up or build something out of. The lemon trees: producing fruit so sour and heavy and pointless that no amount of optimistic bumper-sticker wisdom could make it into anything palatable.
Yet the poem ends on a hopeful note; finally claiming whatever self the daughter might have apart from her mother, the poet determines to grow into whoever she will turn out to be, and leaves it to her mother to surrender her dreams and see the beauty of reality.
~ Jennifer Avignon, Editor
An interview with Meredith Caldwell
What inspires your writing the most?
Defeat! I tend to write when I feel overwhelmed, whether it’s due to school deadlines or burnt pasta. It’s like a Pavlovian response at this point- I get upset, and those emotions that come with it let me write about things I want to say in the moment.
What does your writing and revision process look like?
I pull up a blank word document and type out everything I think, no matter how dumb it sounds. I really don’t revise much unless there’s glaring typos. I like to relive the writing process when I read something, even if it makes the final product less polished.
What, if anything, do you want to share with readers about the work being discussed?
This poem references an actual group of trees! My mom planted a crape myrtle before I was born, but it never bloomed and was eventually uprooted after we moved from my childhood home. Besides that, the poem is mostly about coming to terms with the idea that I cannot be who I want to be without disappointing others.
What are your writing goals?
I want to try writing things besides poetry. I love how freeing it is, and I’d like to find a similar solace in other styles.
What is one random fact, idea, or statement you want to share with our readers?
I started writing last year after my English teacher introduced me to E.E. Cummings, so if you haven’t read his work do it right now!