Mary McManus – Set Sail for a New World

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is Set Sail for a New World: Healing a Life Through the Gift of Poetry. It is the sequel to my first book of inspirational poetry, “New World Greetings: Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World.” It takes the reader on my healing voyage as a polio and post polio survivor. My strong faith has enabled me to overcome many life challenges. With God as my anchor and beacon of hope, this volume of poetry expresses the transformation of life’s pain and struggles. The poetry expresses my awakening to my own beauty and the beauty and wonder of the world around me. This collection of poetry stands as a lighthouse beckoning my readers to set sail for a new world as I did.

Tell us something about yourself.

I live in Brookline, Massachusetts with my husband. My twin children are grown and living on their own. My background is not in poetry. I am not formally trained in poetry. I have a BS in Communication from Boston University and an MSW from Boston College. In December 2006, I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neurological disease. I was told that I had to leave my full time, award winning career as a social worker because the stress from the job was exacerbating the symptoms of post polio syndrome. With my world crumbling around me and facing an uncertain future, I prayed to God for guidance. In February 2007, I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul and poetry began pouring out of me at warped speed. I felt as though I was taking dictation from God. When I was 5 years old, my physical therapist read Dr. Seuss to me before every painful physical therapy session and would have me recite Dr. Seuss with her while she was coaxing my muscles and nerves back to health. How appropriate that I would return to the healing cadence of Dr. Seuss after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome – only this time, I was the one holding the pen. I am also a 2009 Boston Marathon Finisher!

What inspired you to write this book?

This book is inspired by my relationship with God and an expression of the awakening and transformation I experienced after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome. Nature, the world around me, my own healing journey and my love of the ocean inspired me to write this book.

How did you choose the title?

A new world unfolded before me after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and since all of the poems had a nautical theme, I chose the title “Set Sail for a New World”. I have been so blessed with the healing that has occurred in my life due in large part to the gift of poetry. I visualize, I meditate and my soul is set free when I write poetry. I wanted to emphasize how writing poetry has helped me to heal my life.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I already had one book published with Publish America. I did pitch my book to other publishers and even thought about self publishing but decided to go with Publish America for my 2nd book.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I always had a passion for writing and loved my journalism classes at Boston University. I had not written poetry until my kids were in kindergarten. I would write fun poems for Letter of the Week or to celebrate special occasions. It was not until February of 2007 that I began to write inspirational poetry in earnest.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I always have to have pen and paper with me because I never know when the inspiration is going to hit to create a poem.

How do you come up with the names for your poems?

Sometimes I have the name for a poem and then the poem flows from that; other times, after I write a poem the inspiration for the title just comes to me.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned how important it is for me to believe in the gift I have received and to know that there is an audience waiting to receive the messages of hope, healing, love and light that are expressed in my poetry.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I cannot think of anything I would do differently.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I love reading books that are inspirational and spiritual that help me to continue on my path of growth and transformation. Dr. Bernie Siegel, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle are just a few of the authors I love to read. A book which just came out is “Stepping Stones for Success” which I am devouring for the wisdom and encouragement it provides.My favorite poets are Mary Oliver, Robert Frost, of course Dr. Seuss, Longfellow and Emily Dickinson.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I have several projects in the work. I am blessed to be collaborating with Dr. Bernie Siegel on a poetry book called, “Bernie and Friends”. My journey inspired him to create, with Rosenberry books, a series of healing journals based on poetry to help others find their path to healing. An artist, Kate Sidwell, has asked me to compose poems to accompany her art work and we will be putting together a Tapestry of Poems and Prints. The third book I am working on is called, “A Leap of Faith:Landing in a New World of Hope and Possibility”. It is a collection of essays and poems focusing on my autobiography.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

If you are feeling called to write a book – do it! Believe in yourself and what you want to share with the world. Do not allow nay sayers to tell you you cannot get a book published because there are so many options nowadays to have your book published. If you write poetry, don’t let anyone take it apart and tell you how it ‘should’ read. Read the poetry of others. Look at all of your options to decide which option is going to work best for you. If you are writing prose, do have someone look over the work for editing.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

I have been told by my readers that they use my book as part of their spiritual practice each day. Anyone who would like to be uplifted and inspired is the ideal reader for my book. My book is not religious so a reader of any faith would enjoy it but one does need to have a fundamental belief in something greater than themselves to appreciate my book. My readers have also given my book as a gift to their friends who are recovering from an illness.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?