More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Woman's poem helps fund fight against multiple sclerosis

January 20, 2002
By Jennifer Burd
Daily Telegram Special Writer

WESTON - Pauline First of Weston has been a fan of reading and writing poetry nearly her entire life. This summer, First realized her dream of getting her original poetry into print, and she was able to help fund the search for a cure for multiple sclerosis in the process.

First, 79, learned in June that a poem she submitted to the "Montel Williams Cure for Multiple Sclerosis Poetry Contest" had been selected for inclusion in a poetry anthology. The publisher of the book, the International Library of Poetry, donated $1 in First's name to Williams' Multiple Sclerosis Research Fund.

Williams' contest called for submissions of poems of up to 20 lines in any style and on any subject.

Though she didn't place in the contest, First says she is pleased that submission of her poem, "The Lonesome Tree," is assisting the search for an MS cure.

No stranger to charitable fund-raising, First has participated with the Weston Women's Club in numerous benefit activities for such organizations as the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.

"Shes always helping people all the time," said Leona Hewitt, a Morenci resident and longtime friend of First's who also is active with the club.

The anthology in which First's poem appears, titled "An Open Door," is not available in bookstores. First says she didn't mind having to order the book from the publisher for $49.95. She received her copy of the attractive, 228-page, hard-bound volume in August.

First's poem received praise on another occasion. The poem won second place in a poetry contest sponsored by the Lenawee County Federation of Women's Clubs in 1976, less than a year after it was written.

First said she was inspired to write the poem after noticing some bare trees lining M-52 as she and her oldest daughter, Diana, were driving toward Adrian on a winter day in 1975.

"I had always wondered how trees could survive the winter," First said.

Later that day while her daughter shopped for fabric at a store in Adrian Mall, First sat on a bench inside the mall and wrote.

"In an hour I had the first three verses," First said.

"When she had the draft on a scrap piece of paper, she brought it over and read it to me," said First's youngest daughter, Kathleen Strech, of Seneca Township. "I thought it was pretty amazing."

The poem, which consists of four stanzas containing two rhymed couplets each, reveals First's fascination with poetic meter and rhyme "I just was always interested in how poetry rhymed and in the rhythm of it - how some poems have short lines and some have long lines," she said.

First, who plays organ, accordion and piano, also is working on writing two songs. She says she finds inspiration for both poetry and song in changing seasons and everyday events.

Copyright 2002, The Adrian Daily Telegram