Lois Beebe Hayna was born in 1913 and began reading poetry at an early age because her mother disapproved of fiction. Her small home town of Vespers, Wisconsin, did not have a library, or a high school. Despite these privations, Lois flourished in her one-room school, enjoying the fact that she could pursue her interests at various grade levels. She boarded in a near-by town for high school and received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Lois was a member of Arden House, a writers house on University of Wisconsin at Madison, where SI Hayakawa served as a mentor. Lois had to leave college a year before graduating because of the Great Depression.
Lois put off creative pursuits to raise a family. In her early 60s she began writing again, sending poetry to contests and winning many of them. For the next 30 plus years Lois wrote and was published in literally hundreds of top literary journals. She supported the arts in Colorado and taught writing. She remains an active poet and, at 98, her 7th, Casting Two Shadows, has just been published.
Lois’ numerous accomplishments include:
Lois’ books include:
Her CD is Split Vision.
Lois has been featured on Colorado Public Television and Colorado Public Radio. She is dedicated to promoting poetry through teaching and community activities. Many writers, throughout Colorado, can point to Lois as a positive force helping them pursue and shape their own creative voices.
If I wasn’t born with a pencil in my hand, I probably reached for the first one I saw. I’ve loved all the tools for writing – paper, pencil, up through fountain pens and typewriters and finally computers. They’re still as fascinating as the writing itself. In the village of Vesper, Wisconsin, books and writing were not considered unimportant. This was during the Great Depression. The town had no library, I went to a two-room school, and later to a high school in a neighboring city. There, teachers began to encourage me.
Not that I became – presto! – a writer. For one thing, you need to live a little to know what to write about, unaware that my small scribbling. In the village Vesper Wisc, these were pretty unimportant. This was during the big depression paid and no one paid any attention to writing. We had no library, I went to a two-room school, later to a neighboring city to high school, where teachers began to be encouraging.
A small scholarship allowed me to enter the University of Wisconsin, though even for that I had to bend the rules which specified that the money was to be used for the study of home economics. Then for another very long stretch the basics of living took all my attention. Even so, I might have managed to keep writing, but I broke one of the first rules of writing. I listened when people said my writing wasn’t very good. Actually, they were right, but it didn’t occur to me that I could make it better. I focused on being very good as a wife, mother, and member of the community. I should have kept some writing in that mix, but I didn’t.
I do not recommend this as the way to become a writer. Too risky to count on a sudden reversal when your writing skills haven’t been flexed in a long time. It’s hard then to revive them. Maybe it was possible for me because I had never stopped reading poetry, so that when I went back to it, I was fairly familiar with what was being published. Writing is now a daily pleasure that I don’t push aside.
My heartfelt thanks go to the Martin Family Foundation for making the Lois Beebe Hayna Creative Writing Center a reality.
I decided to focus on writing poetry far later than I planned. When I did start to really expand my skill in the craft, I found it hard to send what I'd written out to publishers. So I started with prizes and before I knew it, I was getting First Prize in numerous contests. That increased my confidence and I summoned the courage to send to publishers and once again, found many were willing to accept my work.
If I have a message to new writers, it's this: Don't push writing to a corner of your life, time is too precious. Believe in yourself and practice writing every day. Those practice sessions help you use your most inspired moments to best advantage.