Born to Write

Local author McMakin
finds inner voice in poetry

She is donating book proceeds
to Center for Women and Families

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

BROWNSBORO, Ky. (July 2010) – Author Barb McMakin remembers vividly the day she and her husband, Dale, turned on the TV while on vacation to see Oprah Winfrey interviewing author Elizabeth Berg about her latest book. That was when McMakin turned to Dale and said, “That is what I want to do.”

Barb McMakin

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

Brownsboro, Ky.,
author Barb McMakin
has written a new
book of poetry.

Berg’s book, “escaping into the open: the art of true writing,” arrived at her home several days after the couple returned from vacation. “Dale, along with my sister, Carolyn, and other friends and family have been so supportive” of her writing career, said McMakin, who has been employed by the Oldham County Public Library for a little over a year.
She has written a chapbook of poetry, “Digging Bones,” which will be released in September. McMakin has had individual poetry published in “Kentucky Monthly,” “Lucidity,” “Amy Kitchener’s Angels without Wings Golden words Anthology” (on-line), “The Heartland Review” and “The Enigmatist.”
McMakin, 55, has always had it in her to become a writer. While taking a writing course during her freshman year of college, McMakin said she had a good teacher who encouraged her often. McMakin said she “got to know myself better” through her writing.
Although she has dabbled in all writing genres, she chose poetry because “poetry packs a punch. It says a lot in a few words,” said McMakin who is originally from Jeffersonville, Ind. She moved to the Brownsboro area of Oldham County when she married her second husband and credits him with being a big influence and supporter of her writing career.
“Digging Bones” is a collection of poetry covering a variety of subject matter. Published by Finishing Line Press, advance copies went on sale in May for $12 through July 9. Shipping charges during this time are only $1, and Finishing Line Press plans to mail ordered books by Sept. 3.
Finishing Line Press, based in Georgetown, Ky., pays authors in copies. The number of copies that McMakin receives will be determined by on-line or mail-in purchase requests. Copies that McMakin receives will be placed for sale in local businesses with proceeds donated to The Center for Women and Families.
When McMakin heard of recent budget cuts for The Center, she contacted us, said Steven Bowling, Director of Community Engagement for the Center for Women and Families. She saw how “crucial our services are to the community. She saw a need, and chance to possibly form a partnership.”
The center, which originated in 1912, has a lot of restricted funding to be used only for certain project or needs. Any funding received from the sale of McMakin’s book can be used in a variety of ways, which may include providing meals or purchasing bedding or other supplies.
“I think it’s a nice partnership,” said Bowling. “We can do lots with it. It’s a good fit. We appreciate all the community support we can get.”
The poems contained in “Digging Bones” are based on McMakin’s life experiences. She has submitted work to journals and anthologies and said it is “wonderful to have my work validated in that way.”
She plans to enter more poetry contests in the future as well. Some of her accolades include winning the Kentucky Red Robin Restaurant’s 2007 Valentine’s Day Essay Contest, placing sixth out of 3,800 entries in the Writer’s Digest Third Annual Poetry Awards, and placing first and second in the 2009 Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Conference. She has received awards from the Arkansas Writer’s Conference, the Kentucky State Poetry Society, the Massachusetts Poetry Society and the Indiana State Federation of Poetry.
McMakin credits her membership with the Green River Writers group as a boost to her writing. Critiques and suggestions she has gained from the group have been invaluable.
“You learn as much from hearing discussions about others’ work as comments on your own work,” she said.
Since September 2004, McMakin has been working to improve her writing with Green River Writers founder Mary O’Dell. “She has the patience and expertise to help a writer find her or his best voice. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her and to learn from her on an ongoing basis,” she said.
Also influential to her has been member Gail Chandler, who “took me under her wing from the very start,” said McMakin.
Shelbyville, Ky., resident Chandler said, “Barb is such a nice, caring person. The thing that impresses me most about Barb’s writing is her work ethic and her concentration on improving her writing.”
Chandler is also a poet and said the group has helped “move me from where I was at to where I can be. I had so far to go.” Finishing Line Press published a poetry chapbook for Chandler in April 2010.
"I enjoyed Barb’s new book. I thought it was really thoughtful,” said Chandler.

• “Digging Bones” can be ordered online from Finishing Line Press at www.FinishingLinePress.com, or by sending check or money order to Finishing Line Press, P.O. Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324.

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