Have you ever considered writing poetry to express yourself?

Poetry offers a fun way to take a “snapshot” of life.  Poems can transport you to a new place, share your ideas, and allow you to eternally savor a feeling, an experience or an event. But more than that, poetry gives us a way to create a meaningful tribute to special people.

Since I first held a pencil, I fell in love with poetry. Just as a painter throws paint on canvas and allows his imagination to wander, I loved dabbling in words. I’d write poems for my family, friends, and created a “Wonderland” for myself. (That was the name of one of my kid poems.) As I grew older, writing poetry became a satisfying outlet for me to create pictures through words.

Why buy a pre-written Hallmark card when I could give someone a personalized poem? (It would be like buying a frozen dinner vs. making a home-cooked meal for a loved one.)

One of my favorite poetry classes was taught by an award-winning poet in Winnetka, Illinois. She inspired students for over 40 years, and was beloved by many people of all ages.  Her name was Eloise Fink.

I doubt you’ve heard of her (unless you happen to have lived in my town), but her name was recognized in poetry circles. I’d like to introduce you to her through this article. She was quite modest, and I only found one photo of her. It’s from the back of one of her published books, “Lincoln And The Prairie After.”  As you gaze at her face, can’t you just feel her glowing energy?

Once you met Eloise, you’d never forget her. She wore a perpetual smile and her eyes twinkled through her glasses. Her round face was framed by a halo of wavy white hair. And that voice! Oooh… it was so melodious. So loving. So sweet!  Her voice felt like a yummy chocolate chip cookie… you just couldn’t get enough.

Each year, after she inspired her students to dive into similes, metaphors and alliteration, nurturing our creativity to new heights, Eloise celebrated with the best holiday parties in town.

After she retired from teaching, Eloise invited a group of us to have lunch. I was grateful to be included in her circle of friends. It was such a delicious experience, beyond the actual food, that I naturally had to write a poem for her. I’d like to share it with you too.

A Special Friend

Dedicated to Eloise Fink, December 23, 2005

I relish your voice

     Pleasing as buttered cinnamon toast

           on a December afternoon,

        so ahh–delicious to my soul.

 How lucky to find a special friend

   Who giftwraps kindness in unexpected calls

       And smiling surprises…. 

A luncheon gathering becomes

 More than munching on carrot sticks

 But a portal to the heart 

 Of what life is all about…

 Love in its glorious sun-drenched splendor.

 Why must it take so long

To finally perceive angels in our midst

Winging radiant gladness

     Like chocolate-dipped strawberries

                   Into a ho-hum world.

  You, my friend,

    Sprinkle hope on the batter of imagination

a master chef cooking new creations,

      smoothing out bumps                                               

 and baking a symphony of oohs.


Now to be fair, let me give you a tiny “taste” of Eloise’s poetry. May her writing inspire you to explore the world of poetry for yourself!

Here’s the opening from her award-winning poem, “The Color Of Home.

“When I was eight, Chicago was the world 

  the newspapers made real

as movies; and we’d pay to go

 to see it on the train

from downstate Illinois, where nothing

 happened much – except

when we, like frozen mittens,

 tumbled in the snow down Lincoln’s

courthouse hill. Or, in the spring,

 we looked for May apples

and waded streams that jingled

 blue inside our bones.”

Eloise Bradley Fink: 1927 – 2011 – Award-winning poet, passionate teacher.

“Eloise Bradley Fink: Long in the rich service of language that sensitizes and extends her readers.” Gwendolyn Brooks

Mrs. Fink co-founded a nonprofit publishing company called Thorntree Press and wrote two books of poetry: “The Girl in the Empty Nightgown,” published in 1986, and “Lincoln and the Prairie After,” published in 1999.

Her work has been recognized by two Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference Fellowships, a Ragdale Fellowship, two Friends of Literature Awards and Gwendolyn Brooks’ Significant Poet Award.

In addition to Alison Halm, Mrs. Fink is survived by another daughter, Sara Reilly; a son, Joel Fink; and four grandchildren.