Maggi Vaughn offers two books of poems and pictures After an unusually cold winter that, frankly, was tasking at times, Tennesseans are looking forward to the warmth of summer and the wide array of fun activities they and their families can enjoy. That said, it would be a great time, too, for folks to relax and really enjoy a couple of wonderfully titled books by Tennessee’s iconic poet laureate, Margaret “Maggi” Britton Vaughn of Bell Buckle.
“America Showing Her Colors in Black and White,” a bold and bonding bundle of patriotic poems and pictures by Maggie herself, and “The Light in the Kitchen Window,” a classy collection of some of her favorite from-the-heart writings, zero in on how rural and small-town folks in Tennessee enjoy life. Each is a touching tribute to how we live as families, neighbors and friends. A word of caution, though: Don’t expect extravagant layouts and splashes of color on every page. Except for “America” in patriotic red on the cover of one of the volumes, everything is black and white.
In the preface she wrote in November 2001 for “America Showing Her Colors in Black and White,” Carole Knuth of Buffalo, New York, said, “Anyone who knows Maggi Vaughn well knows that some of the most important things in her life are poetry, photography, patriotism, people and prayer. This fact was brought home to me in a unique way when I once heard her say to someone, ‘That’s right, Honey. I’m the patriotic poet of the people who is always praying her photography turns out well!”
Indeed, her photography turned out extremely well for “America Showing Her Colors …” — a striking volume boasting nearly 100 pages of Maggi Vaughn poems and pictures. Patriotism prevails throughout — from a fabulous cover photo of four Boy Scouts saluting the American flag to the back cover shot of Margaret herself being dwarfed by a huge replica of Uncle Sam, tall top hat and all. And even though every photo in this keepsake volume is black and white, patriotism still shines in each: “Farmer’s pride,” an old farm tractor on which an American flag has been mounted; a seasoned veteran proudly wearing a World War I cap; “Monday’s wash,” showing a freshly laundered Old Glory hanging on the line with other clean pieces of the wash; “Rural delivery,” six bright white rural mailboxes lined up perfectly beneath a mounted American flag.
Maggi’s other book, “The Light in the Kitchen Window,” came about because of her resolve to “take the time to record what I remember.” In her Author’s Note at the front of the book, she says simply, “The voice that speaks from these pages describes a simpler time and place.”
The first poem in the book — “The Light in the Kitchen Window” — gives a real hint as to what’s to come on following pages. It starts, “The hand-me-down china and linens / Were saved for the dining room. / That’s where we ate on Sundays, / With the silver knife, fork and spoon. / But the old kitchen table / Was where we spent most of the time, / Passing cornbread and biscuits and chicken parts of all kinds …”
The light, easy-to-read little book — which is beautifully illustrated in pen-and-ink drawings by Lucille Lundquist — hits home with tons of readers who remember things like The Old Courthouse Square, Granddaddy’s Old Gate, The Old Passenger Train, Quilts, Country Store and Childhood Christmas.