Eileen Powell’s nephew, Bill Gough, always knew there was a thoughtfully abstracted poet somewhere inside his aunt.
Corner Brook resident Eileen Powell, 87, has had a book of poems she has written during her long life published.
— Photo by Gary Kean/The Western Star
Even to her friends, the Corner Brook woman seemed to often be in two places at once — physically present, but quietly contemplating the world around her in her own unique way.
Recently, Gough was sent a collection of the poems he always figured must have existed.
Gough and his wife Caren Moon established Pilot Hill Press, an independent book publisher, back in 2006. The couple, who live in British Columbia, publish books they love in order to ensure they make their way into the world.
The arrival of his aunt’s poems from Corner Brook inspired Pilot Hill Press to develop Newfoundland Press and a division called Lost and Found.
“The Poems of Eileen Powell: A Lifetime of Poetry” came into existence in December as the first book to be published under the Lost and Found division.
Powell, 87, is well known in Corner Brook for her dedicated advocacy of issues affecting senior citizens, but now lives a much quieter life at Mountainview Estates in the city. She was also featured in a news article in 2005 when she discussed letters her father, Newman Gough, had sent home to his family in Newfoundland while serving in the First World War.
Newman Gough spent five years overseas and was one of the few men who survived the infamous Battle of Beaumont Hamel in 1916 physically unharmed. Powell was always aware of the inner battle that raged on throughout her father’s life — the repercussions of his war experience — and that rears its head in some of her work.
Powell began writing poems when she was a teenager. She continued to take pen to paper while studying to become a nurse, throughout the Second World War and during her nursing career.
Her collection of poems runs the gamut of her life’s vast experiences, from being a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend, a nurse and on into her golden years. They cover almost any subject, from the onset of the cold winter months to simply musing about a spider on the wall.
“Sometimes it’s personal,” she said in a recent conversation with The Western Star. “Sometimes it’s about life.”
She said it’s reassuring knowing that her family, friends and whoever else would enjoy them can now read the words she wrote from time to time throughout her long life.
“It’s nice to know I have it and the children have something to remember me by,” she said, thumbing through her copy. “Some people get all worked up about this stuff, but I’m not that type. Even the girls here (at Mountainview Estates) don’t know I have this.”
Gough certainly gets worked up when he thinks of what he calls a valuable treasure for more than just his family. In addition to publishing his own works, Gough has published books about Powell’s father’s war experiences and the wartime letters he wrote, which have since been donated to the Corner Brook Museum and Archives.
He strongly believes there are lots of natural poets not found in the halls of academia who have important things to say, and that people will take delight in reading their work. Some, like his aunt’s poetry and others fitting the Lost and Found criteria, require some sort of intervention, lest they be tucked away in a trunk or just forgotten about or lost.
“It’s a question of getting them out there,” Gough said in an interview. “It also gives others heart and the notion of how pathetic a fallacy it is that most poetry is written by professional poets.
“Of course, it’s the other way around. The poems create the poets.”
The Western Star