While most are undoubtedly glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror, with the pandemic still ongoing and much of the nation still in lockdown, tangible relief may still feel a ways off.
Joan Yonina Miller, 75, a Baltimore Hebrew Congregation member and Park Heights resident, is working on a book of lighthearted poetry to brighten up people’s days.
The book is titled “Original Poems of Hope and Joy for the New Year, 2021” and will contain seven of Miller’s poems.
One of Miller’s poems in the book, titled “Hope for the New Year 2021,” begins as follows:
“It is better to hope / than to walk around all day and mope. / This year shall be a better one / more love, more joy, and a lot of fun.”
Miller was inspired to write and publish her book after reading “Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day” by SARK, the pen name of author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m always trying to make my dreams come true, but right now I’m not doing anything special. I think I’ll gather my poems of life together,’” she said.
This is not Miller’s first experience with either authorship or publishing, she said. In the past, she wrote and self-published “Joel the Mole,” a children’s story about a mole who travels around the world.
Miller expects the book to come to around 20 pages in length and plans to self publish. She is also in the process of interviewing for an illustrator for her work, she added. She hopes to have the book released in three to four weeks. It will be available on Amazon for $15, she said.
Miller is often told by those who know her that she is a very positive person, she said, and she intentionally injected that positivity into her poetry. She noted that some may view her poetry as a reaction to the pandemic and a call for people to keep their spirits up. While she is fine with this interpretation, she did not intend for her book to be a reaction to the pandemic.
“I’ve been writing poems, and I don’t even pay a mind to this pandemic,” Miller said. “I don’t let it get me down. I don’t let it get me up. I just do what I’ve always done.”
Miller also aimed to keep her poems fairly simple, saying that a reader does not need to be a genius or a scholar to understand them.
Miller has previously been through three separate bouts with cancer, she said, one of which was particularly serious. During one of these fights, she recalled how her mother would tell her “Joan, N.G.U. — never give up.”
“Over the years, I’ve learned to never give up,” Miller said. “Whatever’s going on, you can make it through. And my poems, whatever they are, instill that in people.”