If you love Anne of Green Gables, I’m here to report that Kindred Verse: Poems Inspired by Anne of Green Gables by Julie A. Sellers is an absolute must-have for your bookshelves, Kindred Spirits!!
This books takes the dreamy, nostalgic world of Anne of Green Gables and puts it into poem form. If you’re not a poetry fan, I promise that this book will grab your attention immediately. The poems are tender, lovely, and readable. It’s a gentle read that will soothe your soul.
As I read through this book, I was touched by Julie Sellers’ ability to capture that ache that I and so many others feel when we think of Anne Shirley and her beautiful island. Her poems will transport you to Anne’s world…and to that place in your own imagination that’s inhabited by Anne Shirley, Diana Barry, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, and all of Avonlea!
I was over the moon excited when Julie agree to do a Q&A for my blog readers! You are in for a real treat, as you will see from our conversation below. Not only is Julie a talented writer, she is also a Kindred Spirit!
Q. What are your earliest memories of Anne of Green Gables and how has that novel impacted your life?
I first read Anne of Green Gables when I was fourteen. Across the years, Anne has always felt like home to me, a place I can return to because I love it or need it. She’s modeled what it means to be creative, to dream, and the importance of self-respect. Anne’s indomitable personality has encouraged me to continue to pursue goals when I might otherwise have given up. One of my favorite characters from Anne of Windy Poplars was Katherine Brooke. I could empathize with her dreams of travel, and books were the only way I travelled much until I was in college. Like Katherine, I wanted to know for myself that the world was round, and that influenced my decision of studying world languages. I always imagined Anne would have told me to chase that dream and others, just as she encouraged Katherine to live her truest life.
Q. What was your inspiration for the book Kindred Verse? How long did it take to write the poems in it?
Kindred Verse kind of happened by accident. I had written one poem, “A Home for Imperfect Girls,” to enter a contest. The theme of the contest was fernweh (farsickness), meaning a longing for distant places, whether you’ve ever been there or not. I thought it was an interesting concept, and the first place that came to mind to write about was Green Gables. At that time (summer 2019), I had challenged myself to write a poem each day, and once I had Anne of Green Gables in mind, different aspects of the novel kept popping into my head. I didn’t win the contest, but I did get a small stack of Anne-related poems.
It was only then that the inspiration to write a collection occurred to me. I wrote some poems here and others there and collected them. In October 2020, I was at a virtual read-around to kick off the Kansas Author’s Club’s annual convention. The owners of Blue Cedar Press heard me read one of my Anne poems, “Windows.” They asked me if I was working on anything book-length, and I pitched my idea for my collection of poetry accompanied by photographs. The press’s board unanimously voted to publish my book. We began working with Jay Wallace, a design professor and colleague of mine at the college where I teach, on the layout and design in January 2021, and the official launch was June 15, 2021.
Q. What is one of your favorite poems in this collection?
Choosing a favorite poem is a challenge. Each one brings a memory to me from Anne of Green Gables and my own life experiences in relationship to the novel. I enjoy “A Home for Imperfect Girls” because I think it speaks to how many around the globe have related to Anne. I also really like “Dreamroom” because it combines the nostalgic hues that tint so much of Montgomery’s work with the idea that words and places always continue to exist in our imagination. I also really like the photo of Montgomery’s typewriter that accompanies that poem. I’ve already heard from a number of people all around the globe who tell me they love “Kindred Spirits,” and I think that speaks to the enduring legacy of Montgomery’s work to join us together.
Q. In what ways do you relate to Anne Shirley or the other characters in the novel?
I’ve always found I had a lot in common with Anne Shirley. When I first read the novel, I was an imaginative, creative girl who loved to read and dreamed of being a writer. I could get lost in the beauty of nature and words and lose all track of time, much to my practical, Midwestern family’s chagrin. I also seemed to have a similar uncanny knack for getting into scrapes—and I still do! When I first read Anne, I felt as if I had opened a book and discovered a reflection of myself in those pages. Avonlea and the unique characters that populated it reminded me of so many people I knew in the small-town, rural community where I grew up. As a writer, I also loved the Emily series, but my second-favorite Montgomery novel has always been The Blue Castle. As the youngest on one side of my family, I could relate to being compared to an older sibling and cousins. Valancy’s love of nature and her walks through the woods also struck a chord with me, since I felt and did the same.
Q. Have you visited Prince Edward Island? (If so, what were your favorite spots to visit? If not, what are the first few stops you would make if you went?)
I have had the good fortune to visit Prince Edward Island twice, once in 2006 for my honeymoon (and it was my husband’s idea, so he earns an A+ in the Gilbert category), and again in 2018 to attend and present at a conference on L.M. Montgomery and Reading. I’ve loved visiting all the Anne- and Montgomery-related locations, but my favorite part of going to PEI has been soaking in the beauty of the landscape. The contrasts between the red roads and sands, the green grass and fields, and the blue sea are breathtaking. Montgomery loved nature, and it inspired her. It’s clear to see why when you walk the shores or wander down wooded paths of her Island home, looking for bends in the road.
This collection of beautiful, whimsical poems and photographs, invites readers into the world of a young woman, known across the world, Anne of Green Gables, of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The author reflects in her poems the magic of Anne stories published by L.M. Montgomery in eight Anne books and how the stories and the place reshaped her own sense of possibility. The poems are magical, lyrical and enticing. Readers will long to walk the woods, the beach, look out from Anne’s bedroom upon the world of the place Green Gables where a young orphan found home and identity living with two elderly siblings.
The connection between Anne’s world of a hundred years ago and Julie A. Sellers’ today are beautifully portrayed and invite readers to explore their own connections to Anne’s world and other literary worlds that inspired them and changed their lives. This chapbook is evidence of why we read and an invitation to immerse yourself in Anne’s world and your own world of imagination.
About the Author
Julie A. Sellers was born and raised in the Flint Hills near the small town of Florence, Kansas. Those great expanses of tallgrass prairie and reading fueled her imagination, and Julie began writing at an early age. After living in several states and countries, Julie is happy to make her home in Atchison, KS, where she teaches Spanish at Benedictine College, and does freelance work as a certified court interpreter.
Julie has published three academic books, and her creative prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies, 105 Meadowlark Reader, Cagibi, Wanderlust, The Very Edge, and Kansas Time + Place. Julie was the Kansas Author’s Club 2020 Prose Writer of the year. Her collection Kindred Verse: Poems Inspired by Anne of Green Gables (Blue Cedar Press) was released in 2021. You can follow along with Julie on Twitter and Facebook.
If you could visit PEI, where would YOU go first and what would you do?
Grace and peace,
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