Politics and Poetry

Politics & Poetry Episode 7 ~ Part 1: Margaret Britton Vaughn

February 19, 2023 Maggi Britton Vaughn, Lisa Campbell, Ron Campbell and Laurie Campbell Pannell Season 1 Episode 7
Politics and Poetry
Politics & Poetry Episode 7 ~ Part 1: Margaret Britton Vaughn
Show Notes Transcript

We are honored and thrilled to have Margaret Britton Vaughn, Tennessee's Poet Laureate, join us for our seventh episode of Politics & Poetry.  Part one of our conversation, join us as we discuss the power of song lyrics and poetry to move people to tears, spark laughter, and connect us with one another.  We'll also talk about Maggi's lifelong work as an artist, song writer and poet, and she'll share stories about what it was like growing up in the south during the 1930s and 1940s.

To learn more about Margaret Britton Vaughn visit: https://www.ereferencedesk.com/resources/state-symbols/tennessee/poet-laureate.html

Publications ~ Poetry Collections

Bell Buckle Biscuits
by Margaret Britton Vaughn, Carole Brown Knuth
Hardcover, 128 Pages, Published 1999 by Isis Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-07-1, ISBN: 1-882845-07-2

Life's Down to Old Women's Shoes
Poetry and Personal Essays [Paperback]
by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 61 Pages, Published 1997 by Bell Buckle Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-06-4, ISBN: 1-882845-06-4

Foretasting Heaven

Talking to Twain at Quarry Farm
by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 55 Pages, Published 2001 by Bell Buckle Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-10-1, ISBN: 1-882845-10-2

America Showing Her Colors in Black and White
Poetry and Photography
by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Hardcover, 95 Pages, Published 2002 by Bell Buckle Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-11-8, ISBN: 1-882845-11-0

Acres That Grow Stones
by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 53 Pages, Published 1996 by Iris Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-00-2, ISBN: 1-882845-00-5

The Light in the Kitchen Window
by Margaret Britton Vaughn, Iris Press
Paperback, 74 Pages, Published 1994 by Bell Buckle Pr
ISBN-13: 978-0-916078-35-5, ISBN: 0-916078-35-3

Grand Ole Saturday Nights
by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 96 Pages, Published 1990 by Bell Buckle Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-04-0, ISBN: 1-882845-04-8

Southern Voices in Every Direction
by Suellen Alfred, Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 159 Pages, Published 1996 by Bell Buckle Pr
ISBN-13: 978-1-882845-01-9, ISBN: 1-882845-01-3

by Margaret Britton Vaughn
Paperback, 75 Pages, Published 1994 by Iris Pr
ISBN-13: 978-0-916078-39-3, ISBN: 0-916078-39-6






Lisa Campbell:

Margaret Britton Vaughn, known to everyone as Maggi, is the Poet Laureate of Tennessee. She is the author of numerous books, plays and songs.  Maggi is “widely recognized as a singular literary talent, and her wonderful poetry has appeared in many distinguished magazines, journals, and newspapers, and has been read on national television and radio. She is the distinguished Tennessee bard, renowned as a ‘Poet of the People’ whose writings have a unique ability to evoke laughter and tears simultaneously; and her writings have inspired and enthralled a wide variety of readers and listeners” – This excerpt is from the Senate Joint Resolution to designate Margaret “Maggi” Britton Vaughn as Poet Laureate of Tennessee.


“In fulfilling her duties as Poet Laureate of TN, she has traveled several hundred thousands miles throughout TN and the nation, and her work has been taught at many colleges and universities across this great land; she has been a popular keynote speaker reading her poetry and telling captivating southern stories to appreciative audiences at literary festivals, civic gatherings, business conventions, academic conferences, churches and libraries.” She resides in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Let’s listen to a couple of Maggi’s poems from her book, The Light in the Kitchen Window

Ronald Campbell:


Poetry used to go

Te dum te dum te dum dum

And everybody read it.

“O my luve is like a red, red rose”;

Everybody said it.

“She walks in beauty like the night”;

That’s what Lord Byron wrote;

“The time you won your town the race”

Made young athletes take note.

“When I was one and twenty”

Made us realize

When we’re twenty-one

We’re really not that wise.

Frost wrote about birches

Bending left to right

And horses stopping by

Woods on snowy nights.

Dickinson could not stop for death:

That one still takes our breath.

This poem has used

All rhyme schemes

And talked of death,

Beauty and dreams.

Intellectuals may read these lines

And say, “My God she’s behind the times.

‘Listen my children and you shall hear’

Went out with poets of yesteryear.”

So poets began to write

For the scholar’s ear and eye, 

They left the common man out

And poetry began to die.

But it could live again

If we all could agree

That you write for you

And let me write for me.


The grit I tracked on the avenue

Came from the ruts in the road;

The crossover was not easy.

The avenue knew not the hum of my song,

But the song not hummed

Will die unsung,

So I hum it.

The word on the avenue

Came from the language on the hill;

The crossover was not easy.

For the word not said

Will go unread,

So I speak it.

Lisa Campbell: 
My sister and I recently found ourselves en route to Bell Buckle, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, on a lovely drive past fields of horses and bales of hay as we wove our way down the curving country road. The little town is home to charming shops, antiques, live music, small cafes, and longtime world-famous resident and Maggi Britton Vaughn.

We caught up with the life-appointed Tennessee poet laureate to talk with her about her amazing life story and ask her to read some of her poetry to us for the podcast. She welcomed us as she welcomes all her many visitors—with charming southern hospitality that makes you immediately feel like family. From her wonderfully creative home and friendly little tabby cat to her inspiring tales and poetry, we think you too will enjoy spending some time with Maggi. Let’s get started!

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Your dad is good looking!

Lisa Campbell:
He is good looking. He looks a little bit like Jimmy Carter. 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Yes, he does.

Lisa Campbell:
Yes, he does. So we are big fans of Jimmy Carter. And he's also a poet. Did you know he's written a book of poetry?  We asked to interview him, but he was not able to do that. But he gave us permission to read his poems and talk about them on our podcast. We started this…when I ran for office in Georgia, 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Which position for the Georgia House of Representatives? Oh, my goodness.  And you’re a Democrat-I hope!

Lisa Campbell:
I'm a Democrat. That's right.

Lisa Campbell:
Which is why I'm doing what I'm doing. To have some moderate voice that cares about people, working to improve lives. So the reason we started we started this during COVID.  We were all in different places-on lockdown. My niece, Laurie's daughter is also a writer. She's 25. 

Laurie Campbell Pannell:
She is–and growing up. 

Lisa Campbell:
So we were running for office and then we said, we enjoyed getting together. We spent a lot of time talking about, you know, how do words motivate people. We were writing political speeches, reading political speeches, and we're also big poetry lovers. We said, wouldn't it be interesting to think about, I don't know the way that Elizabeth Warren has a poet on her staff. So we just thought that's so cool and decided to record a series. So anyway, we are looking at Poet Laureates, and we discovered you and started reading your work.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Well honey, I'm not your typical Poet Laureate. Most of them, you don't understand a word they're saying. I got my voice from country music. When I was old enough to turn the dial, I turned it to country music. I got to writing it myself. I moved to Nashville in 1960 to write country music. The Wilburn brothers signed me. I don't know if you remember. 

Lisa Campbell:
Yes, I do. 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Okay, well, they had their publishing company. And they signed me and they said, Maggie, you're one of the best lyric writers has ever come through Nashville, Tennessee. You write the strongest lyrics. But you can't write a melody. And I said, right. And he said, we're going to put you with a girl that was coming in and signing up. She's got a song on the charts. I said, What's the song? They said, Honky Tonk Girl. And I said, that’s Loretta Lynn!  That was like on a Thursday, Saturday night I was backstage every Saturday with the Grand Ole Opry.  I wa backstage and she came up to me and she said, I understand you’re Maggi, and I said, Yes. And she said, Well, we're going to be writing  together and I can't wait. I said, I can't either. A friendship formed that was incredible. Just incredible. And we wrote together and have written together all these years. 

I knew all the Grand Ole Opry people. I was working for the newspaper, in advertising with the Nashville Tennessean and Banner, both of them had their same advertising group. I knew all my life I was supposed to write music and poetry, and knew when I was a child, a little girl. And one day, you know, I believe in signs, for all those out there listening, follow the signs.  But you've got to open up your heart to it; you can't close it off. All my life I've had signs. My daddy died when I was nine months old. He was a farmer and was killed on duty in Murfreesboro. My mother remarried and an older man couple of years laters for security. He was transferred to Gulfport, Mississippi. The best thing happened to me, because of Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1938. When a girl was born, she was supposed to finish high school, get married and have babies as nothing else. And I knew honey when I was five years old. That was and when we got to Gulfport it was wide open—gambling…strippers. I mean, just in general. I was supposed to go to college and all that you grew up with. That's wonderful because it influenced my life a lot. But anyway, in 1960, I came back from Gulfport just to try to write country music. And that's when I met the Wilburns and other people. They signed me to write for their company. That's how I met Loretta and I told you the story about not getting together.

Lisa Campbell:
That's amazing. Did I tell you that I've worked at the Grand Ole Opry myself?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Was that right? I didn't know that. 

Lisa Campbell:
Mid 1990s. I worked in marketing and advertising. So when you say you were backstage I know what you mean. Every Saturday night, I was back there. It was unbelievable. Little Jimmy Dickens. 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Oh, I knew him,  I mean, I miss him. Because he you know, he did a lot of comedy things on records. But his ballads were unbelievable. The nice man and Carl and Pearl Butler had , “Don't let me cross over loves cheating. Like they were. Some of them. I knew more than rose. Mini Pearl was like a mother to me. I mean, she encouraged me to move here to write full time. Like she said, this is where the creative people are living. Money mother didn't speak to me for months, because we grew up poor. And that I would give up a job that had security. Right. Okay, retirement. medical benefits, all that vacation pay to move to Bell buckle. Oh, shit, but I did. And I tell young people all the time. Follow the signs. I knew when I was a little girl, I was supposed to be a writer.

Lisa Campbell:
Well, when you say you were writing songs? When did you make the leap to poetry specifically?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
I was always writing poetry-all the time, all the time. in grade school, I was writing poetry. And my first poem, though, that I showed my mother. I said, Mama, I was in the third grade, I think and I said to my mom, I will be a poet and a songwriter. Here's my first song. And it was tied to hear us see it alone at the bar Oh, mama look past that. Are you sure you don't want to be a nurse? I said no, my mom will be important. So matter I kept that drain. And like I say when I moved to Bilbo, she didn't speak to me for a couple of months. She was upset. But this is the best move I ever made. Many prayer like I said was a dear friend may say maybe you need to be in Bell Buckle. That's where all artists and writers are there come out of Bell Buckle. She says you can still write your songs here in Nashville. Everybody knows you. But moved to Bell Buckle and right. So I stepped out on faith. I pulled into a bank and Shelbyville, Tennessee never been to say big deal in my life. Because I saw a look cottage here on Main Street. And I walked in and the banker was talking to an elderly man. I stood back to be polite, and he motioned me come over. So I did. And he said, may I help you? I said, Yes, I say my name is Maggi Vaughn. I just moved here from Nashville, Tennessee, or moving and moving here. I had not moved here. So I found a little house, a little cottage, and I said, I have no job. I have no savings. I have nothing. No security or anything I said. But I moved to bill moving the bill book on to write. And if you find this at college, I'll never go broke or bankrupt. at it, it was an elderly man standing behind it. And he said, give her a nice she walked and he walked out. And I said, Who's that elderly man playing a joke on me. He's headed where he owns most of bank. How do you want your money. He pulled out open up the drawer pulled out paper. I had my money that day. And from then on, like buying a house alone, I had four stores at one time through the years downtown. And I bookstore, bookstore and bookstore when they host when we went out of business, I bought that building and put an antique mall in it. And Bill Vogel and I don't know. And I never had to pay a downpayment. Anything that's different now, you know, good luck. On but the, at the time, it was locally, I don't know how to do anything I wanted never even saying down. I had several houses here. So you know, somewhere along the way, I must have done something right. I don't know. Because I was in trouble all the time. And I've lived here since 1982. And I've never regretted it one day. They take care of you here. I broke my ankle about a year and a half ago and I can't walk them in a wheelchair from go out and walk in the house. People bring me food. What you brought me stuff today, you know, just credible, you know, they met sure I'm okay. They check on me at night. You met the girl that just left here. She's like a big sister. And oh, my God drives me crazy skip, where's the death about me? Son's gonna have one or something? And I keep shouting. I'm fine. I'm fine. You know. But she when Mama died, she took over. And so I've never regretted moving here one minute.

Lisa Campbell:
Well, how did you become the poet laureate? What year was that? 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
I've been at it for about 27 years, which is way too long. I've been trying to give it up through the years they wouldn't let can't do it, Maggie. And you know why? Because so many poets write things that people don't understand. They say what does that word mean? Or what are they saying? Well, my voice from country music says it. The lines, they understand every line in it. And I can write a metaphor, but I can write it. It's where they understand it, you know. And that's the one that before we will have one before me and he passed away in his 80s. And they heard about me, and I got it. I didn't even apply raise. I mean, just the your your elected by the House of Representatives in the Senate like a bill. And then the governor signs it. And they had heard me read poems and things at different occasions and say, man, you gotta be the board. Alright. And I went in and we tried to retire me about 25 years, about four, two years ago, I can't remember what I'm doing. And COVID here they were doing they gave me a retirement party and pick a new one. And when the COVID head, it just stopped everything. And I called him that not long ago, and I said we got to get a new one. And they said, We know what maybe we're gonna get with you. And so I'm hoping we'll get one maybe sometime this year, a new person?

Lisa Campbell:
Well, one of the things you said about you know, the the words that you choose for your poems that people can understand and relate to, I think is so similar to as, as a campaigning for office. You know, you can get so deep in the weeds on the bill and legislation and the big, you know, big vision. But really, when you're knocking on someone's door or you call them and you're talking about, you know, vote for me, they really just want to talk about the day to day things that are in their lives that's right in there like I did a baseball game. Yeah. Can they afford to buy their groceries? Yeah. Can they see their grandmother because of COVID? Yeah, all those things

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
My first book I did was called 50 years of Saturday nights. The Grand Ole Opry was 50 years old. Okay. And Minnie Pearl, like I say, was like a mother. She took the book out to the Opry and they called me the next day and say we want to do this. So a lot of stuff comes over at transit. But boy, this is something else. And it was a book written from the voice of the Ryman Auditorium talking about her children, which the opposite people and the Grand Ole Opry. Well, John Siegenthaler, I don't know. No, John, John Siegenthaler was publisher. And he heard that day that they wanted to do it. He's amazing. I want to see it. And I thought, good grief. Wow. And I handed him the manuscript. And he came back the next day and said, we want to do it, Tennessee, and we'll publish it. So I call the Opry and I said, Lord, all these years you go and now two people want you and they said Maggie, we were going to put it out in October. This was like in the spring for the deejay convention publishing thing, but we may come up and something happened and we can't get it out or something or don't or something said, Let the Tennessean publish it and we will buy a bunch of copies. They bought it in and they bought a bunch of copies. And then I updated it years later, two grand those Saturday nights. Okay, well, I sold out of it.

Lisa Campbell:
Your books are very hard to come by, well, I bought two online.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Well, you probably paid too much. Because you combine for me, from what I've paid the publishing over here, because people come from all over the United States to buy. And so I updated it, and it sold out immediately. And so I haven't put it out in a long time because I went on to other things. But I need to redo it at night and get it out again, because but but the opera's changed some I mean, it's not, though when the lottery that I grew up with now today you don't understand. Why don't people are only really? Mandy Barnett I don't know if he came to see me. Oh, about six weeks ago. And we've she sat right where you're sitting we talked for four hours. And I love her she did the Patsy Cline show. Oh my god, I when I saw it, I couldn't believe she sounded looked just like Patsy.  I knew Patsy really well. And now she, she can do country and she can do pop. But she, she when she does country man is wonderful. She's got an amazing she's got a range like you believe Anna, I need to write something and pitch something to I've kind of he said that? Well, I kind of got out of my songwriting, because I'm writing the books, but then then I write a song. And I just don't know who to give it to. But next time she sees me, I may throw a few songs on her.

Lisa Campbell:
I'd love to have you read a poem or two?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
What do you want me to read?

Lisa Campbell:
Do you have a copy of the Grand Ole Saturday Nights? So you could read one or two of those? 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
 I don't think there's one over there. You can look and see. If sales out? Yes.

I'm a self published and I have people come to me all the time with things I've written. And they either really good or they're good. You know, just so many people write about their family. And I'll say you know what you need to do maybe one of these stuff. I say you need if they writing just family and about their grandchildren's, you need to self publish this and put it out. I said, your friends about your family or buy your church and you can do that. And you can yes, you can absolutely love it. Yeah. And I said, you know, you can read at all these organizations are dying for people to come and speak. And I said you can sell books at work. And I said, But if they're fabulous, you know, I mean, not fabulous, but commercial enough to people and I said boy, go ahead and self publish it and put it out there. They'll buy your books. That's right, but you I have books that they relate to, if you're writing to where people have to some people push, right where it's just all over the place. You got to turn the book this way. And this way to see what they're saying. 

A dear friend of mine is KB Ballantine, from Chattanooga, great poet. And she's in between. She doesn't want to stuff you don't understand. But it's, it's kind of high up there a little bit of thought, yes, yes. Where it's more than thought Is it she got to where he got her sometimes know what she's talking about? You know, I'm saying. And when she comes to see me when she has a new book out, embrace me one. At one time, she had a line and she brought one line down to the second line, one word was allowed the one word wrote down and had plenty room to put it up here. And I said, KB, why don't you have this room? Why don't you bring that one word down. And she said, Maggie, you write for the ear, I write for the page, I'd give anything if I could write for the year, you see is the ear that people hear. They hear your ear. And they when you write an image, they see it. And they see the picture that you just wrote about. And that's why they buy the book. But it's I got to go to the dictionary. But KB is not where you got to go the dictionary. But she's more intellectual than me.

Well, the book you're holding in your hand, The Light in the Window, is my best seller. How much did you pay for it?

Lisa Campbell :
Well, I think I paid about $40.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
So you could have bought it from me for $10. 

Lisa Campbell:
I have to say it was the least expensive one that I saw there.

Laurie Campbell Pannell:
Do you get some of that money?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
No, don't get any of that. They're most of them are second hand. You love.

Lisa Campbell:
I brought them both. I'll go get them.  One was, Mama and Me—the one about your mom. Not poetry—the book of short stories.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Oh, Bell Buckle biscuits. Mama, Bubba, and Me. Yes. That's about my mother and brother. Yeah, he had to pay a lot for that one. No. Okay. Well, that's good. I wonder how my biscuits Bell Buckle Biscuits.

Laurie Campbell Pannell:
Tell us what Bell Buckle Biscuits is about?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Short stories. Okay. This was short stays about people who lived here. Through the years, we've had some lovely people, which is wonderful. And you know, it's just stories of placing Bill Vogel things. It's not poetry. Because I wanted to get some of that act that I've done.

Laurie Campbell Pannell:
When you live in a little town. There are some characters here. Wonderful.

Maggi Britton Vaugh:
You couldn't even make it up. No, no. Got to be authentic.

This is patriotism book. I'm very patriotic. 

I've written 21 books. Wow. I'm out of some of them. I need them reprint. You get old and you know. When I was of course when I was able to speak I was making money speaking and selling books. And I don't travel like I used to. Before I was traveling east of the Mississippi every state well with COVID Maybe none of us. Yeah, yeah. Changed Everything I had COVID About a year and a half ago. How was it as bad for them? I don't remember it being that bad but free Have friends of mine who took care of me cinco were made, we thought you're gonna die. Had you been vaccinated or what? Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, up until then I've been a much as you could be glad that's good. I was like, hadn't been vaccinated because then it came out. I got it. And I've got two boosters. But now something else has come out monkey paw. But you know, I mean, that would be harder to catch. I would say, yeah. I heard if you had the smallpox vaccine, well, I had it and that provided but now well, that lasts as long as I last, you know, for and I had it when I was a child. See, so. I don't know. They don't give boosters for that. That I know. I don't know.

But I had that vaccine. Were you required to have it when I was growing up? This, these boys here, I was at a parade. I go when I was trying to know the United States trying to find the right picture for this book. I hadn't put it out yet. And I was at a parade in Shelbyville and I saw these young boys on a float the scout and I walked up to it and they immediately started saluting because I had my camera. And I snapped it and that's normal. Yes, Norman Rockwell right they are.

Lisa Campbell: 
Well, I'd love for you to read one of your poems there.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
What do you want me to read?

Lisa Campbell:
I'd love you to read one from The Light in the Kitchen. Pick anyone that you think? We were cracking up last night reading some of your short stories about talking about when your mom went to get baptized. 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
The reason we went that Sunday. It was his birthday right not to be baptized. Yeah. And we were sitting out there and Mama said they did the altar call. And I was like I'll be baptized today. I said what? You know they hurt me Hey, say what all which are and she got up and that's a you know a full on dunking. way maybe like for lunch. And my brother course was leaving singing and he my brother when he was little couldn't talk playing and he still cannot say things with a "th" and he said after she got back up and all that. He said put a blessing day this is that was my mother that just got baptized and I just cranked up!

Lisa Campbell:
I loved the singing and that acapella singing now I do. I did love that.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
 But you know what? What? I love the old southern gospel. Oh my gosh, Russ Taff lives in Bell Buckle.  Bill Gaither has been here. Oh, wow. I wrote this poem for he and his wife. And once a year and first weekend of November, I think it's the first weekend. They have a rest half day and he brings in all these gospel singers from different places to sing. And I speak. I tell him, you know, because they've been doing religious things. The reason they have these for Comic Relief This is my most requested poem,  "Is That You Mama?"  The title, Is That You, Mama?

Is that you, Mama,

Who just put a hand to my brow?

And today when I couldn't work things out

Was that you showed me how? 

Was that you, Mama,

Who just turned on the porch light?

You always had one on

To keep me safe at night. 

Mama, was at you by the stove

Cooking beans and cornbread? 

And was that you during the night, 

Standing watch beside my bed?

Was that you, Mama, 

Who knocked that old bumblebee away,

And you who called me in to supper 

When I came in from play?

I know I felt you kiss my knee

When I bumped it on the chair 

And Mama, when I knelt to pray,

Was that you listening there?

Is that you, Mama, oh, is that you? 

Did God let you come home to me? 

Or maybe you never left ,

I was just too blind to see,

Or was it I felt so bad today 

And you knew I needed you 

And God let you visit 

For just a day or two. 

Well, Mama, I'm OK now,

You tell the Lord I said hi.

Was that you, Mama,

That just kissed me bye?

Men that weighed 300 pounds going out of the room crying? At least that's what sells his book. I mean, they go nuts over that poem. Country music. That's like country music. And they relate to every word of this because this is what they remember their mother. See? 

Lisa Campbell:
How long ago did your mama die? 

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Like at six or seven? Somewhere along in there? Yeah. Mama was 85 I think when she passed away.  And I had one brother. I have one brother.

Lisa Campbell:
He lives in Gallatin still?

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
Yes. Yeah, he's health is not great. He has a hard time walking. And we've always been very, very close my brother. And we drove our teachers crazy. When I was in the first grade. Is he older or younger? He's a year younger. Yeah. Okay. When I was in the first grade, I was hanging by my legs on these monkey bars. That the head will the campus. And because I've always been a little bit of a tree or something. Yeah. And I fail and it split. My head is wide open. And I had to have our homies stitches. And then I had a cast on my head. So I, I was already little we're halfway through the first grade. And Mama didn't want me to go to school cast over he and Fred I busted open again. And so my brother was a year younger. So she started as both then the next year together. And we drove the teachers nuts. Because we'd make faces each other one would have to get up make a speech or something to make them laugh. And finally about the fourth grade they separated us this we can't put them in the same class anymore. Two slides Trouble, trouble, honey.

This is another one that's they love okay.

 To say that sounds conceited?

Lisa Campbell:
No it doesn't.  I think you can tell.

Maggi Britton Vaughn:
It's called, "Counting on Sunday."  And if you don't get bored sometime in church, you're not normal. And I stay pretty bored when I go. 

Counting on Sunday

He didn't have his 

Heart in his sermon. 

If he did, it didn't 

Show up any enthusiasm 

In his voice.

And I didn't have 

My restless soul 

In church. 

If I did, I wouldn't 

Have counted 

The 823 bricks 

On the wall 

Outside one 

Of the 48 

Window panes 

Behind the 16 

White shutters

That helped shade 

The sunlight 

Off the 11 crosses

2 brass, 4 on cloth,

1 on a plaque that’s nailed 

To the rail that leads 

To the wooden one 

That’s carved on the altar 

Just left of the 

Wooden one that holds 

The page numbers 

That face 

The one in concrete

On the baptismal font

That stands beside 

The organist

Who is married 

To the preacher 

Who has a silver one 

Hanging around his neck 

As he speaks to 

10 women, 8 men 

And 4 children 

Who sit in 

21 pews 

That hold 161 

Hymn books 

Under 78 electric candles

That shine on 

5 doorknobs

And 2 flags 

That stand 

Over 11 eyeglasses,

7 necklaces.

2 flower arrangements, 

1 hairbow,

1  bow tie, 

1 silver barrette,

Anda a sermon 

In a pear tree. 

And I counted every one though. I've been to every church you can go to them. And this was an Episcopal church I was in that day. People just relate to them. You know, everybody people buy that and give it to the preachers. And I said does it insult them and they said, no, they crack up laughing!  So that's why Light in the Kitchen is about, it's my most popular book. 

Lisa Campbell:
People hear the story. And to your point, maybe they haven't been in exactly that same Episcopal Church but they've been in a synagogue. They can relate.

Lisa Campbell:
We recorded this interview in late 2022 and since that time I’ve been busy as the first woman elected to represent Georgia House District 35.  Now reflecting back on this special time and interview with Maggi Britton Vaughn I’m even more committed to sharing the stories of real people, poems and words about our shared experiences  in this podcast and in the Georgia General Assembly.  As I embark on this new work of legislating, I know it is the words, the poems, the real stories about real people living, working, playing, serving, and connecting with others to do good things, heal, help, invent, create and lead fulfilling lives that will help us connect and unite in our policies, laws, and programs.  I’m so thankful we had this opportunity to talk with Tennessee’s Poet Laureate and I’m excited that we have one more episode to share with you as we continue our conversation with the witty, caring and creative artist Maggi Britton Vaughn!