Introduction by Maryam Hand
Early in my walking I wrote an spiritual autobiography using poetry. I wrote as a way to heal but my knowledge of the craft of poetry was limited. Mary Hasna helped me to learn the craft. She spent a number of years mentoring me and helping me to find my voice and to express it in the most beautiful way possible.
Fast forward almost a decade and I felt guided to contact Mary and see how she was doing. During our phone conversation Mary said, “I don’t think I will be staying on the planet too much longer and I don’t know what to do with my poetry.” She had about 16 binders and a few thousand poems written over her lifetime. Her need really boiled down to the simple desire to be read and witnessed. I thought I could do that for her.
As she sent me volumes of poems it became more and more clear that a book wanted to be born. As we worked with the poems, I mentioned to Chaplain Aisha Sherie McGuffey that we were compiling poems for a book. She asked if she could see some of them and found that they made very nice training tools.
We started to understand that the book could be offered to elders, their families and their caregivers in service. The more we surrendered to the process, the more it was clear that this was Allah’s book through us. We brought graphic designer A’amina Maru Real on board to design the cover and do the layout. Aisha contributed a message to healthcare workers and a sample lesson plan. I edited the book and managed the project.
It was a joy to work together and insha’llah, we hope the book will help elders not to feel so isolated and that it will help their caregivers to understand them better. We pray Allah will be pleased with our work and that the book will find its way into every heart that needs it.
Mary Hasna’s Letter to the Reader
Are you a reader? Do you like accessible poetry? Are you a senior citizen or about to become one? Does your work or family put you in frequent contact with seniors? If you answer YES to any of these questions, you may be interested in a copy of The Richness: Poetry about Old Age in the Twenty-First Century.
In this book, Mary H. Ber documents her journey into and through Old Age, responding to all the new experiences it brings–both positive and challenging.
The five poetry sections are titled: “Coming into Old Age,” “Moving into the Residential Retirement Home,” “Walking through Old Age,” “Moving into Deeper Spirituality,” and “Completing Old Age.” The sixth section of the book, “Message to Healthcare Workers,” was written by Chaplain Aisha Sherie McGuffey. It offers suggestions of how to use poems in the book as teaching tools for those who work with seniors.
Mary H. Ber has earned Master’s Degrees in English, Women’s Studies and Divinity. She is an 84-year old senior, living in a retirement community in Tuscon, Arizona. Contact her at email@example.com.
Mary Hasna Reading Her Poetry
Author Mary H. Ber reads a selection of poems from her book, The Richness: Poetry about Old Age in the Twenty-First Century