Kay L. Saunders

1918 - 2003

Kay L. Saunders, 1918 - 2003

Kay was born and raised in Houghton, Michigan and lived in Munising, Michigan and Neenah and Appleton Wisconsin. She was married to George H. Saunders for 63 years. They had five children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Kay published 6 books: The Grace of Ordinary Days, Gift of the Strangers, A Whippoorwill Calls for Memories, Pluck,Letters from the Other Side: The Gift of Flannery O'Connor andOnly the Footprints are Gone. She also wrote numerous poems, articles, essays and short stories, which were published in magazines, journals and newspapers. Kay was a correspondent for the Catholic newspaper, The Compass, for 20 years, and was a creative writing instructor for Elderhostel at Treehaven, Wisconsin.

Website: kaysaunders.com

She was a member of the National Association of Poetry Therapy, Sacre' Coeur Book Club, Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and the Flannery O'Connor Society.

Kay Saunders was a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP) for over 40 years
and was the Regional Vice President for the Central Fox Valley Region for more than 15. 

She loved to encourage budding poets of all ages. This award was established in her name
to continue her spirit of nurturing new poets.


Only the Footprints are Gone:
February 1

“I’m going to die today,” she said
and she did
just as surely as she predicted
the bleeding heart would bloom,
the sweet peas would climb our fence
and the nasturtiums would be ready
for the cut-glass vase;
just as surely as she predicted
the scars on my knees and elbows
would heal “before you get married”
after she dug the long slivers
from the top layers of my skin;
just as surely as she predicted
her friends would come on Saturday
for fresh kuchen and tea.

What she couldn’t predict was
on a much later February 1,
a girl-child, her grand-daughter
would be born
and grow to be a woman
of predictions too
a woman who anticipates
trillium in the spring
who forecasts greater scars will heal
who expects the taste and smell
of all good things.

© 1987, Kay Saunders

Letters from the Other Side:
The Gift of Flannery O’Connor

For My Fellow Writers (a poem from the book)

Would you be right shocked
if I told you I was blessed
with total non-retention
and could quickly forget
sharp criticisms of my work?
You forget rejections too,
pay no mind to them,
go about your bidnis.

You’ll be right smart
to listen to a few people you trust
who are honest, will suggest
deleting an adjective or two,
or help you decide what stories or poems
are fitten for your collections.

I don’treckon I would have
written as much or as well
without help from friends
and fellow-writers such as
Eudora Welty, Faulkner, and
Katherine Anne Porter.

My region was the South, 
so I wrote what I had an ear for,
Know your region, its flavor,
characters and dialect.

You will write a story or poem
when you have one to write.
One story a year was a good
average for me;
some of my drafts looked like
chicken scratchings but I wroteand rewrote.

Sit at yr machine every day
same time, same place;
something will come when you’re messing
around with this and that.

I wrote to the end –
able to work only an hour or less a day,
writing in bed most of the time
or pushed into the typewriter
to drag another sotry out of myself
than to rewrite and polish, 
send to friends for critiques.
Although low on energy, 
I read the Bible and newspapers,
got strength from gifts coming in,
from Masses and prayers.

I had to get that collection out
and I did.
You will too.

© 1998, Kay Saunders