Jo’s always told a good tale

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When I was at LBW, Bev Smith’s creative writing class was one of my favorites. It was a gathering of kindred souls who loved words and the experience of putting them on the page.

We came together to share our poems, essays, short stories and thoughts about the process of writing. Bev was our guide as we brought ideas from our imaginations out into the world.

It wasn’t a large class and it was an interesting mixture of people of different ages and backgrounds. One of the most interesting was Josephine. Her presence always made the gathering more fun and you never knew what she might bring with her in the way of writing.

One time in particular pops into my head when I think of her and that class. We were taking turns sharing something we’d written. When it was her turn, we waited patiently while Josephine searched inside her purse.

“It’s in here,” she said in her English-accented voice. “Give me a minute.”

Finally, she dug out a poem scratched on a crumpled piece of what was left of a napkin. Before she started reading, she explained that inspiration hit her as she was driving to the store. So she pulled over, found the only thing available on which to write and committed it to the page, ah napkin, before it slipped from her head. She said she also penned poems on her grocery lists.

We laughed and listened as she read. I don’t recall what the poem was about, but I remember being impressed with her willingness to stop whatever she was doing in order to capture the words before they disappeared. That is commitment, I thought, as I considered the flashes of ideas and bits of sentences I didn’t take time to save that are now lost floating around somewhere in the ether.

Once I left LBW, I didn’t see much of Josephine except when we bumped into each other in the grocery store. Still when we met, I couldn’t help smiling and usually laughing at some tale she told about what was going on in her life.

Maybe it’s the lilt of that English voice. Perhaps, it’s the way she tells a story, a laugh just under the surface of the words. Whatever it is, she is a person who has a way of making you feel a little lighter just from spending a few minutes with her.

A week or so ago, I saw an announcement about a book signing at the local library. I smiled when I read the author’s name, Josephine Mosdell. My classmate did what all of us in the class probably aspired to do — she wrote a book.

It is the story of what it was like to grow up in England during World War II and I knew I wanted a copy. So, I rushed around Friday afternoon to get myself and my daughter to the library before the signing event ended.

We made it, but not in time to purchase a book because they apparently sold out quickly. It seems lots of people want the experience of reading what Josephine writes.

I spoke to her briefly, told her about remembering the napkin experience and asked her to add my name to the list of those who want her book when she has copies available. As I left, Josephine was laughing and no doubt telling some story.

Driving home, I thought about what about what I wanted to say to her but didn’t. So I’ll say it here.

Josephine, you are an inspiration and I’m so glad our paths crossed in that creative writing class.