BELLA VISTA – It was her love of science that led Joan Barrett Roberts to poetry, even if it was not a direct route.
Roberts is the founder of Village On The Lake Writers and Poets, a group that has been meeting since 2015 with a membership roster of around 120. She interned as a poet at The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow where she also worked as a poet. been a star. reader. But his second career came after his career in education.
She was born in Oklahoma and became a science teacher. In the 1980s, she and her husband both found jobs in Huntsville. She taught in the Migrant Education Program, as well as the Science Department, and found it to be an “eye-opening” experience. When his mother came to visit him, Roberts learned that his grandmother had grown up in Fayetteville. She had heard stories about her childhood on a farm but had never known where the farm was.
When they moved their young family to Wisconsin, Roberts returned to school so that she could teach at the college level. Later, she accepted a post of director. Their two children grew up and moved out, so when they retired they moved back to Arkansas to be close to their grandchildren.
She began writing when she retired, but became interested in poetry after losing two of her siblings within months of each other in 2010. She struggled to cope with feelings of loss. A weekend retreat took her to write poetry. It was a way for her to understand her own feelings.
“I have always loved being outside,” she said. To combat depression, she began taking long walks around the Bella Vista Lakes. She took photos to capture the beauty she found and then started trying to capture it with words as well. For years, she walked and wrote every day. She publishes her own poems on her website, shadowleavesonlakeann.com.
The first writing groups she joined were online. She met new friends online and they encouraged her to keep writing. Eventually, she reached out to other local groups in Fayetteville and Eureka Springs. But it was difficult to get to the meetings, especially at night. When the Artist Retreat Center opened in the former log cabin at US 71B, Roberts stopped to meet owner Sara Parnell.
She learned that there was no group of writers at the center and was asked to start one. She put a notice in the Weekly Vista, and for five years the group met monthly.
Local writers were often the guest speakers at the meetings, she recalls, many of them well known. Often the meetings included workshops led by the authors and attended by up to 60 people. In 2019, the group hosted a highly successful writers training camp.
When covid 19 hit, the group of writers switched to online meetings, Roberts said. During this time, the Artist Retreat Center was sold, causing the group to become homeless. Dating has suffered, she said, but she hopes it will resume when they find a permanent home. In July, they met at the Historical Museum and heard from Xyta Lucas and Dale Phillips, who co-wrote a new Bella Vista story.
For now, the Village Writers may be back online. Eventually, they may be able to meet at the Bella Vista Library, but the library does not currently hold any meetings.
For more information, visit www.villagewriters.org or contact Roberts at 608 642-1294.