Camden Welcomes Spring With New Author Patricia Middleton
Saturday March 20, 2010 was a beautiful day. The sky was bright and sunny and the temperature reached 72 degrees in the Camden / Philadelphia area. It was the first day of a very welcome Spring after a winter of record breaking snow storms. Never has the first day of a new season been more welcome. But March 20th was also the first day of a new season for local poet Patricia Middleton. It was the day she chose for the book release of her first collection of poetry, A Time To Write.
"I chose the date before the venue was even secured, something unheard of in the rules of event planning. But that prior November as I looked over the calendar for the coming year I realized that the first day of Spring was on a Saturday. That's when I knew March 20th would be the day. It fit perfectly with the subtitle of my book, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven" (From Ecclesiastes 3:1). I felt that nudging in my spirit that we sometimes feel when God is trying to tell us something. So I set the date and that was that."
Patricia felt that same nudging a few years before when she first visited the Walt Whitman Arts Center in Camden, the location where she held her book release celebration. A church member had invited her to an open mic night at “The Walt” in downtown Camden.
"It was on a week night in early 2007 and the streets were deserted. The complete opposite of Center City Philadelphia, where I'm from. There wasn't much traffic and I didn't see any people walking around. But when I entered the building and walked around to take my seat I felt something. As the various spoken word artists came out on stage to perform, I started looking around at the stage, the walking area, the seating, the balcony and said to myself 'I'm going to have something here one day." Later on that year I briefly attended poetry group meetings at “The Walt” and became more familiar with the building and the area. I was even more sure that some day I would sponsor something there that had to do with poetry."
That was three years ago, but the seed was planted and that feeling became a reality on March 20, 2010. Patricia first called the Walt Whitman Arts Center in early December of 2009. As she suspected, the date was available, and she had no problems reserving the first floor for her book signing. The unorthodox method paid off. She had already set the date, but the venue was available just like she knew it would be.
"Anyone who really knows me knows I'm very particular about dates and I truly believe that there's something to be said for things that are “meant to be”. Nothing can change something that’s meant to be, and I believe those things are the divine will of God, things that God himself ordained and they cannot be altered or destroyed. For me, having the book signing on March 20th was one of those things. I'm very thankful to Pattricia, Mildred and the entire staff at the Walt Whitman Arts Center. They were all pleasant to work with and it was a great experience all the way around."
The day went on without a hitch. There were bouquets of dried flowers, touches of bright green here and there, and warm welcoming smiles everywhere. Friendly hostesses greeted you when you arrived and pointed you around the room. First stop, the book sales area, where along with your book purchase you received a goodie bag. Next, the author's table where your book was personally signed and if you liked, you could also have your picture taken with Patricia. The last table was the snack table, everyone's favorite. There, assorted italian cookies, chilled bottles of spring water and a variety of soda was yours for the asking. Once you visited each table, you were invited to settle in the auditorium with your copy of A Time To Write until Patricia's next reading. Some chose to read the book, others watched the ongoing slide show presentation, and some listen to the live music and guest poet performances until Patricia made her way to the stage.
"There's a saying "It takes a village". Well, my family helped tremendously with this event. After listening to me pour out my heart about my dreams for years and years (and years), they didn't stop there. They manned the tables, took pictures, offered advice. They gave there time, talents, and money. My son couldn't be there because he was healing from recent surgery, but when we went to see him afterwards, there he was in his hospital bed, bragging about his mother who just wrote a book to all the nurses who came in his room. My daughter, who's also my business manager, put the day together with grace, style and beauty. Her excellent overseeing of this project made it the success it was. It was her suggestion that we do the day in "rounds" so that no one would have to wait too long for a reading. So there were three "rounds" of selling, signing and reading, so our guests could come in, get their book, have it signed, hear a reading, and then get back to their Saturday errands and appointments. By this being a family friendly occasion and such a gorgeous day weather wise, several guests purchased their books and went outside to sit on the benches of the spacious green lawns of the Walt Whitman Center and read their newly signed copy of A TIME TO WRITE."
Patricia is very comfortable on stage standing behind the microphone, expressing herself through poetry. Currently she works in radio, and is behind the mic on a daily basis. Her station, WTMR 800 AM (Where the Master Reigns) serves the Camden / Philadelphia area. She’s the creator and host of an on air poetry radio show called Poetic Praise where weekly she interviews authors of inspirational poetry and occasionally reads her own poetry as well. And she has a lot of material to choose from. She's been writing since she was 14 years old, and performing poetry in front of audiences even longer than that.
"The church I grew up in, Greater Refuge Church of Christ in North Philadelphia, had an awesome format for Sunday School. Each Sunday after we learned our lessons, all the classes would come back together and each class would have to go up to the front of the church, in front of all the other classes, and one by one, each student had to stand up straight, speak in the microphone and say something about the lesson. For some of us, that was the beginning of our lessons in public speaking. Then, every Easter and Christmas, we were given holiday 'pieces' to memorize and recite during those special holiday services. My Sunday School teacher, Sister Ellen Pittman, always gave me the longest poems to memorize. That was the beginning."
Patricia’s voice is both soothing and powerful as she moves across the stage reading selected poems during her book signing. Each "round" of reading from her book, she shared personal testimonies and "the story behind THE RHYME" of the poems she selected. One highlight for her was actually reading the wedding tributes in chapter 4 of her book to two couples in the audience both married more than fifty years.
"It's always an honor to be asked to write someone's wedding poem. Whether I know the couple or not, I always ask them to tell me their story. How they met, how God bought them together, how they knew they were God's choice for one another. And then I pray. I ask God to give me the words, and He always does. I've written over a dozen wedding poems, but the two written for couples married over fifty years are my favorites, especially in this day and age. They are a living testimony that it is possible to have that lasting union called holy matrimony, and they are an example to those of us who've never been married to wait for God to bring you someone, don't try to do it on your own. I really enjoyed reading their poems to them. It was truly an honor."
Many guests compliment Patricia on the design of the book, the color choice and the cover in particular. They are surprised and impressed that she is both author and publisher. Many didn’t realize that she’s been an entrepreneur since 2002. Back then she formed her company, I WRITE THE which consisted of three tiers were Inspirational Poetry, Motivational Workshops, and Administrative Consulting. There were plenty of opportunities with administrative consulting and workshops but Patricia wanted to pour all her energies into poetry. So, in 2009 she revamped the company, changed the name to Poetricia Publishing, and directed all of her focus on her passion: poetry. She's received many compliments on the name Poetricia, as well as many inquiries into how she came up with that name.
"There's a funny story behind that discovery. It was around May of 2008 and it was time for me to renew my New Jersey vehicle registration. I decided I'd also like to get a personalized license plate, so I began doodling with the words poem, poem and poetry. I finally settled on Poetess, but I really didn't like it that much. It sounded too much like Prophetess, and I didn't want anyone to read anything into it. I kept doodling, and I really can't remember what made me write my name down, but as soon as I did, in the midst of all the variations of poet, poetry and poem, I just took the 'a' out of my name and put the 'oe' in, and BAM! There it was: Poetricia. I love it so much, and my only regret is that I didn't discover this name earlier. But, there is a time and a season for everything. I like to say Poetricia is 'who I am and what I do', sounds corny but it's true. And you'll find everything from workshops to original poems to poetry cafe's to publishing consultations at Poetricia Publishing."
As the day came to a close, many were asking Patricia what's next. Three churches have already invited her to come to their locations for book signings and readings, and she's very excited about that. It is also her desire to see her book on the shelves of bookstores both here and abroad.
"I have always imagined walking into a bookstore and seeing my own books on the shelf. For me that would be another dream come true. But I have so many people to thank for this dream coming true, beginning with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without him I am nothing. But with him, I am a published author. To God be the Glory! I also want to thank my family, friends and fellow church members for their your love, support, prayers, fellowship and encouragement. I pray that God continue to bless all I put my hands to do for His Kingdom."
This interview was submitted to a local South Jersey circular for publication in June of 2010.