Just before my dear friend and writing partner, Beverly Johnston, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, she and I visited both large and independent bookstores to survey their poetry shelves. We decided there was more room for the type of poetry we would like to buy and read. Work that looked closely at nature, both human and terrestrial; work that magnified sometimes quieter, less heard voices; work that nurtured thought and a contemplative existence. We began to dream about, and then scheme about, starting a small, independent press. Two days before Beverly was diagnosed, during our weekly critique meeting, we outlined initial plans for a publishing venture.
With the support of friends and family, Beverly Johnston fought courageously against a horrible disease. Her wry sense of humor never left, nor did her encompassing, loving nature. She was and is an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to call her family and friend.
In the days just before, and the days just after, Beverly’s passing in May of 2018, I wrote two poems; one about the last days of her tragic illness and one about her burial. Then, my writing life stopped completely during a period of grieving. After about three months, as I woke up one morning, I thought some one was talking to me from my bedside and I heard the voice say, “Hermit Feathers Press, Hermit Feathers Press.” If you knew Beverly, you will recognize her email in this name! I started to laugh and then to cry and as if “the veil had parted” both my desire and ability to write returned. At that moment, I knew, I just knew, I had to follow through with plans made by two friends on a summer day over writing drafts and tea. Though I am starting “Hermit Feathers Press” on my own, Beverly is always there just on the periphery offering encouragement, impossibly grandiose ideas and her undying sense of humor. And I know now, she will never leave.
“Important that I knew it then, before I knew to speak, that I was born a witness and a scribe. I am a writer.” – Beverly Johnston
Angell Caudill is editor and founder of Hermit Feathers Press. She grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and has long taken inspiration from its beauty and culture. Her illustrated book, Hope Swirls, has been described as part poetry, part philosophy, and part allegory. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in The Camel City Dispatch, The Haiku Journal, Flying South and local community newsletters. Angell has written, directed, acted in and produced plays in North Carolina and Virginia. She has served on the board of Winston-Salem Writers and on the editorial staff of Winston-Salem Writers’ annual publications, Flying South and Poetry In Plain Sight. She manages the website for North Carolina Poetry Society.