HOUMA, La. (AP) - One Thibodaux resident is molding her lifelong passion for poetry into an outlet to express herself. In the process, she hopes to help others who may be experiencing similar struggles.
Lora Benoit, 55, said she began writing poetry at the age of 10 as a therapeutic release from the issues she faced while growing up in poverty.
“I never really paid much attention to what I was writing because I was just letting out my emotions,” she said. “When I came back and read it, I thought, ‘Jeez.” I never realized what I was going through until I started reading it years later. It’s weird how that works. I know I’m starting in my 50s doing this, but like my son told me, it’s never too late.”
In 2001, Benoit’s husband of 23 years died from a heart attack at the age of 41. She said his death left her incapable of completing her day-to-day responsibilities.
Benoit said her bad fortune continued as she later engaged in unhealthy relationships with men.
“I survived these experiences despite all my subsequent past toxic relationships after my husband’s death - all the consequences, the hard times, the sad times and the death of my loved ones,” she said.
Benoit said her 22-year-old son, Christopher Benoit, has been an enormous inspiration in her work.
“My son said to me, ‘There are a lot of people who go through the same thing that you went through. If you put it in print, at least the people who read it can relate to it, and maybe it can help them and let know they’re not alone out there,’” she said. “If he wouldn’t have been pushing me, I would have never done it.”
Her first book of poems, “Through the Years,” was published in March 2012 and deals with a variety of issues she encountered throughout her life.
“Seasons of Change,” published in January 2013, describes the changes in her life and compares them to the changes in the seasons.
Her third book, “Escaping the Darkness,” published in April 2013, details her journey as she begins to heal.
“It was so therapeutic writing this and getting it out there,” she said. “After ‘Escaping the Darkness,’ you could say it was like a butterfly escaping from a cocoon. I had been down so long, and that’s why I called it ‘Escaping the Darkness.’ I continued going forward with my newfound confidence, not knowing where I would end up at.”
By the time she published her fourth book, “In Times Like These,” in October 2013, Benoit said her poems had evolved to represent her newly healed and whole self.
All of her work is included in “My Collection of Poetry,” which became available in November.
Benoit’s books can be purchased online through Lulu.com, at LA Cajun Stuff in Houma’s Southland Mall or gift shops at Terrebonne General Medical Center and Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. They also are available for checkout at Houma’s main library, the Thibodaux library, the Bayou Blue library and Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls State University.
In June, Benoit participated in her first poetry reading at the Thibodaux Library for about eight guests.
However, her group of listeners expanded a month later when she began performing at Heaven and Hell, a free monthly show with musical performances, poetry readings and art and photography displays at Anela’s Wellness and Yoga Lounge in downtown Houma.
A mutual friend introduced her to the show’s organizer, Moses Knightshead, during the May show, and after becoming acquainted with Benoit, he asked her to perform in July.
“I got three or four of my poems and went up there,” she said. “I was like an earthquake; you could hear it in my voice. I was shaking. I didn’t let the fear and shyness stop me or consume me. I went in doing my best.”
Knightshead said he has continued to invite Benoit back to his show each month because she is “a genuine poet.”
“She lights up when she’s reciting. It’s awesome to see that,” he said. “The crowd loves her. She just has that energy. She’s a great person, and I’m crazy about her.”
With the support of her son and newfound friends from Heaven and Hell, Benoit said she has blossomed into becoming her best self.
“I didn’t let the roadblocks stop me or slow me down,” she said. “I ended up mustering up all my energy and strength climbing those hurdles that were in my path. I broke that cycle, and my journey took me into a whole new world of talented local artists, singers and poets. I would get up in front an awesome audience reading my poetry without the fear, making me stronger and more confident than I was before.”
Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com
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