MARTINEZ -- Local author Margaret Netherby is a practical person, good at cooking, gardening and construction bookkeeping. The demands of raising six children left little time for herself, let alone anything as impractical as writing. But she did it anyway.
For half a century, she worked and struggled to understand her tumultuous life and times by putting it into words and reducing it to a poetic essence as intense as a fine French sauce. That insight is found in Netherby's new book, "Some of my Seasons."
Anyone who experienced the 1960s and 1970s will be able to read between the lines of the personal side of great social and cultural upheaval.
Works range from humor to haiku, .
Numerous Netherby poems describe surviving harsh conditions by gracefully and flexibly surrendering to forces beyond control yet emerging and re-emerging anew. However, her poems cannot be labeled as expressions of contemporary California "poetry therapy."
Netherby's life as a journalism and art student was side-tracked by two tumultuous marriages, years of spousal abuse and personal discovery. She continued to write "scribbles" that she tucked away for later.
"There is no doubt that the upheaval of the 1960s contributed to the dynamic of conflict in our family life," Netherby noted.
"As things changed there was more protection and we all had to take more responsibility for our anger, and learn how to reason and set different boundaries."
"The tone and focus of entertainment and music changed. All the kids were fighting their parents. The parenting message that worked for my parents did not work for me."
With an increasing atmosphere of violence at home, Netherby met a "wonderful therapist" and attended a women's group where they were asked to write. "Stopping Place" came out of that experience.
By 1976, with the help of a social worker and her therapist, Netherby "escaped" (marriage) and continued to study at Diablo Valley College. After training, she founded the Contra Costa Chapter of Parents United and helped establish the first crisis line in the county. "Our membership grew from four to 450," she said.
In the process of coming to terms with societal changes, Netherby's path took her to Christianity, Scientology, the social services system, study of psychology, and to poetry.
"My first published poem won honorable mention in the Ina Colbert Circle contest in 1978," she recalled. With that boost in confidence and a developing interest in Buddhism, haiku was a natural transition.
Netherby's personal growth during the 1970s paralleled acceptance of "poetry therapy" among psychotherapists, such as Arthur Lerner, therapist at the Calabasas Neuropsychiatric Center in California.
Published in 1983, "Poetry Therapy: A Therapeutic Tool and Healing Force," by Ruth Lisa Schechter chronicles the impact of personal writing and poetry in particular, for people in personal turmoil.
Netherby credited a compilation of haiku poetry by R.H. Blyth for her development in haiku.
"I became entranced with the form."
There is a calm understanding and spirit of hope running through Netherby's work, which touches on violence and conflict in "Some of my Seasons."
"All of the poems are from my experience ... about what is touching my heart at the time," she said.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-202-9292.