“We All Might Be Witches”

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We Might All be Witches

We All Might Be Witches cover design by Victor Rook

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By Carole Keily

Local author and award-winning poet Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt has announced her 12th book, We All Might Be Witches, an illustrated collection of micropoems released by MacKenzie Publishing, Halifax, Canada.

Gotthardt said that the book was inspired by her adult son Andrew, who has autism spectrum disorder. “He holds a unique perspective, is highly inquisitive, and when interested, delves into philosophy, science, art and more with a passion and focus many people cannot understand. The idea of earth magic, Wiccan culture and ‘good’ or ‘white’ witchery (for lack of a better term) has fascinated him for a couple of years now. It’s not something I knew much about, but as he shared what he learned, he reactivated my own keen interest in spirituality and nature. Hence this book, which is dedicated to him.”

The concept of the world and individuals being more magical than assumed is captivating. Gotthardt said that as humans, “we take so, so much for granted. And the older we get, the worse we get when it comes to this. We tend to become dull, immune, insensitive. We overlook extraordinary things that are right in front of us because we see them every day. That includes people.

“Andrew’s talk of magic and ‘white witchery’ helped me take a step back and look at things through new eyes and a fresh lens. Writing this book made me more present in the midst of magic we often miss – bubbles, azaleas, spiders, sidewalks, people, you name it. When I looked the everyday up close and focused? Magic unfolded. The book unfolded. It was a transformative journey.”

Andrew’s Inspiration in this Collection

 “Sometimes it’s difficult for people with autism spectrum disorders to connect with others. Their way of trying to get close is to do what Andrew calls ‘info dumping’ – sharing facts about what they have learned.”

Andrew’s unique perspective was influential on the themes and imagery within the micropoems. “Talking to Andrew about something that fascinates him brought us closer. It helped me see him – reminded me how wonderfully unique he is. Through listening closely and then sharing with Andrew how he inspired my work, I soon realized he had become part of the creative process. And that process didn’t just help him connect. It helped me as well,” said Gotthardt.

 Micropoems

Poem sample copyright Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

 Micropoems are known for their concise yet impactful expression.Poetry is by nature meant to be a concise art,” said Gotthardt. “Word economy, word choice, literary devices like simile, metaphor and imagery all play a part. Micropoems have become extremely popular as people’s attention spans have diminished and as poetry on social media, which sometimes limits words and characters, has become more common. But micropoetry has always been around. Think about haiku, for example.

“I wanted to craft meaningful, artistic micropoems that are also accessible. I wanted to strike that balance between the literary art and communication so a general audience can see poetry as both beautiful and understandable. For those who want to look deeply into these poems and examine the words, they will see all the elements of the craft. But I wanted something there for a larger readership, too. You should not need a degree to be able to appreciate well written poetry.”

The Mysteries of Nature and Our Beliefs

 Gotthardt acknowledges that color plays a huge role in our world, as does the idea of light and dark, day and night. These also play traditional roles in poetry.

 “When writing one poem, I recalled once seeing white flowers at night. I also like the word ‘azaleas.’ So, I sat with this image of white azaleas in the dark. What did the color and the image really mean to me? What was the association I had with them?

“By the time I finished the poem, I realized I was thinking about goddesses in white robes and how we all have a piece of divinity in us. We are all sacred, as is the natural world around us. It reminded me of beliefs I’ve held throughout the years, brought me back to some core beliefs I had forgotten about and had me reconsidering some of those beliefs and where they came from. That kind of introspection is magical in itself, and I’d encourage everyone to try it. Start with a simple image, challenge your assumptions about it, and go from there.”

Proceeds From the Chapbook

PACE West

Proceeds from the book will support the Gainesville-Haymarket Rotary Foundation’s programs for PACE West school. Gotthardt chose the organization because Andrew attended PACE West throughout middle and high school. “The teachers and staff there truly understand these students who have emotional, cognitive and neurological differences. I am so thankful for PACE and those dedicated educators. They helped Andrew more than they probably knew.

 “A couple of years ago, I joined Gainesville-Haymarket Rotary Club. I had learned about G-H Rotary because I knew, among their other community service and giving programs, they support PACE West. In particular, they support the ‘Prowl Pantry,’ PACE’s supply cabinet of rewards for students who meet academic and behavioral goals.

“Many people don’t know this, but PACE has a lot of disadvantaged students. Some of these students, who have multiple disabilities, don’t get to earn rewards anywhere else, and others have basic needs that are not met elsewhere. In some small way, I want to give back to this program and other programs at PACE that help these students. G-H Rotary’s foundation is a great way to make that happen. So, all proceeds from this book will be donated to the foundation for that purpose.

 A Writing Journey

Gotthardt has had a prolific writing journey. When asked how We All Might Be Witches fits into that body of work, she said,Whether I’m writing poetry, prose or children’s books, most of my work delves into psychology and the natural world on some level. I’m also pretty heavy on spirituality. I’d say this book is the abbreviated version of those themes.”

 Micropoems require a unique skill of distilling thoughts into concise and evocative verses. What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are interested in exploring the realm of micropoetry? “There’s a myth floating around that micropoetry is garbage writing being passed off as poetry through social media. Some people think it’s just more social media noise. I say, it doesn’t have to be.”

Interested in exploring the realm of micropoetry? Gotthardt advises, “Read haiku. Read micropoems that challenge your assumptions and make you feel something. Look at how the poets accomplish this and go from there. Develop something out of the ordinary. Use your unique voice and practice the craft. Give the audience something to gnaw on, something to love, something to make them stop scrolling and really think.”

Where You Can Find We All Might Be Witches

Visit WeAllMightBeWitches.com and check out Amazon. In the future, larger bookstores will be able to order the book, and it will eventually be distributed through independent gift stores and art galleries locally. Stay tuned!

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt is Prince William Living’s Social Media Director.

Carole Keily is Prince William Living’s Online Editor.

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